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Previously classified studies from the former Soviet Union reveal the emergence of an herbal superstar, Rhodiola rosea.
From two respected physicians comes an authoritative new book that explores the amazing healing powers of Rhodiola rosea. Compelling scientific evidence about this commonly available herbal supplement confirms its ability to help:
- Melt away extra pounds
- Combat fatigue
- Sharpen memory and concentration
- Enhance physical performance
- Strengthen immune function
- Protect against heart disease and cancer
As more people turn to Rhodiola rosea to improve their health and vitality, they will look for a trustworthy, authoritative resource to answer all their questions. The Rhodiola Revolution is that resource, providing the latest news from the front lines of research as well as clear instructions on using the herb for maximum medicinal effect.
|Product dimensions:||5.98(w) x 8.98(h) x 0.75(d)|
About the Author
RICHARD P. BROWN, MD, is associate clinical professor of psychiatry at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and has a private practice in integrative psychopharmacology. His wife and coauthor, PATRICIA L. GERBARG, MD, is assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at New York Medical College. They reside in upstate New York.
BARBARA GRAHAM has written for numerous publications, including O: The Oprah Magazine, Self, and Vogue. She divides her time between New York and Washington, D.C.
Read an Excerpt
AND YOUR HEALTH
People are experiencing burnout like never before. It's easy to see why. Between cell phones, pagers, and instant messagingnot to mention job demands, family responsibilities, and a nonstop flow of obligations and commitmentswe're on call 24/7. No matter how many tasks we cross off our to-do lists, they just keep getting longer. Then we must deal with the threats of terrorism; snipers; and SARS, West Nile virus, and other newly minted infectious diseases, which only fuel our anxiety levels. Just thinking about it all makes us toss and turn well into the night, compromising the sleep we so desperately need to replenish our dwindling energy reserves. We yawn and stumble through our days, feeling simultaneously tired and wired.
Does this sound familiar? If so, you may be one of the millions of Americans who chronically expend more energy than they have, someone whose energy reserves are almost always tapped out. This imbalance puts an enormous amount of stress on body and mind. It also is a leading cause of illness in the United States, where an estimated 80 percent of health problems stem from stress.
To get a clearer picture of how stressor overspending your energy reservesaffects your health, imagine your body as a car battery that constantly uses energy without ever fully recharging. In other words, more energy is expended than replaced, so less and less juice is available over time. Eventually, the battery wears down, and the engine won't turn over.
We humans are similar. Everything we do, mentally as well as physically from eating breakfast to planning the day's agenda to falling in love burns energy. For this reason, we require a steady supply of energy in order to function well. These days, with so many pressures bearing down on us, our energy demands are greater than ever. And we need to store extra energy for use during unexpected crises.
We must replenish our energy reserves dailyideally with more than we expend so that we always have an ample supply available for those times when we really need it. This may be what Rhodiola rosea does best.
RHODIOLA ROSEA: NATURE'S PERFECT ENERGIZER
Rhodiola rosea is one of those rare substances that increase energy at the very source: our cells. For several decades, researchers have been examining the root of this remarkable herb, which grows wild at high altitudes in Siberia and other northern regions. Their conclusion? Rhodiola rosea actually boosts energy production in the cells of the major organ systems.
This power surge at the cellular level not only helps us manage stress with greater ease but also protects against disease and neutralizes environmental toxins. A growing body of evidence shows that Rhodiola rosea significantly improves physical and mental function, as well as the workings of the cardiovascular, immune, and neuroendocrine systems. (The term neuroendocrine collectively refers to the neurological and endocrine systems. It's a product of current research that shows just how intimately connected these systems are.)
Our own positive clinical experience with the herbas well as our colleagues'is consistent with the research. We have found Rhodiola rosea to be extremely beneficial in treating depression, anxiety, chronic fatigue, neurological disorders, sexual dysfunction, and hormonal imbalances. It also has helped many of our patients successfully manage debilitating conditions such as cancer and Parkinson's diseasewith few or, in most cases, no bothersome side effects.
We cannot emphasize the last point enough. By the time they seek our counsel, many of our patients are at their wits' end. Some already have consulted numerous specialists and tried multiple prescription medications either to no avail or with intolerable side effects. Others have gone the natural route, experimenting with ginseng and other herbs to improve their mood or enhance their energy.
In fact, the number one reason most of our patients say they buy supplements is to boost flagging energy. Yet the majority of herbs and nutrients touted for their energy-enhancing properties actually offer little benefit or cause unpleasant side effects.
But Rhodiola rosea is different.
By now you may be wondering, How can one herb do so much? And if it really is so special, why haven't you gotten wind of it before now? The answer which we'll discuss in much greater detail in chapter 4is part folktale, part Cold War thriller. For centuries, Rhodiola rosea has been prized by those who live in the regions where it grows. It wasn't systematically studied by scientists until the latter half of the 20th century. And many of the results of those investigations were kept top secret until recently.
In part 2, we will present convincing scientific proof of how Rhodiola roseawhich thrives in unforgiving subarctic terraincan dramatically improve nearly every aspect of our physical and mental well-being. But because this resilient herb directly increases energy in cells, we first must explore the key role of energy in our overall health.
WE ARE ENERGY
We tend to think of our bodies as solid structuresconsisting of bone, muscle, organs, and a network of arteries and veins through which our blood circulates. In reality, we could condense the solid matter in the human body to the size of a thimble. The rest is spacespace within cells, space between cells, space between organs. Connecting and enlivening all these parts is the energy that our cells produce. It's what keeps us going. Without an adequate energy supply, our health suffers.
The ancient Chinese healers who devised acupuncture, a healing discipline that acts directly on the body's energy centers, recognized this thousands of years ago. So did the ancient Indian scientists and spiritual teachers who created yoga techniques to elevate prana, the Vedic word for life force. They understood that energy is our most precious human resource. But just like the energy that heats our homes and fuels our automobiles, the energy in our bodies is finite. Our challenge is to learn to use it wisely while doing everything we can to make sure we don't run low.
Continually tapping our energy supply without replenishing it can lead to an imbalance that has a negative effect on our health and wellbeing. Until we learn to maintain balance between how much energy we burn and how much we store, we may be doing the best we can, but we won't be doingor feelingour best.
TWO TALES OF ENERGY IMBALANCE
Many patients who seek our help struggle to handle the multiple stresses in their lives. They have trouble just getting through the day, fulfilling their obligations, let alone experiencing moments of peace and joy. Although some show symptoms of depression, a surprising number cite low energy as their chief complaint. Without knowing anything about the science of energy, many describe themselves as feeling depleted or "running on empty." Sam and Nancy are perfect examples.
If it's Tuesday, it must be Bombay. Sam traveled so much he seldom knew where he was or what time of day it was until he opened the drapes in his hotel room. Still, he had been organizing public events for so many years that he somehow managed to pull himself together after 4 hours of sleep, then entertain an audience of 5,000 as if on autopilot. He even breezed through hours of organizational meetings in touchy political environments and situations laden with cultural sensitivities. But after 12 years of crisscrossing time zones, Samrenowned for his incredible stamina realized that he was running out of steam.
Sam and Dick had known each other for years. When they met by chance at a conference in Germany, Dick immediately noticed the strain in Sam's face. In the few minutes they spent together, Sam asked if Dick could help him overcome the mental and physical fatigue that was becoming his constant companion as he circled the globe.
Fortunately, Dick had a spare bottle of Rhodiola rosea in his backpack. He handed the bottle to Sam, who was rushing to catch a ride to the airport en route to his next destination. Two weeks later, Sam sent an e-mail of thanks praising his newfound energy booster.
Like Sam, Nancy was so accustomed to pushing herself that she didn't realize just how depleted her energy stores were. And at age 45, she was too busy and revved up to pay much attention to the changes that were taking place in her body and brain. Although she had started working part- time when her first child turned 2, after her second pregnancy, she decided to leave her job and become a stay-at-home mom. Before she knew it, Nancy was caught up in the whirlwind of raising three children. Her days were packed with the usual school functions, carpooling, and homework support, plus household chores and volunteer activities.
As her kids became more independent, Nancy decided to return to the classroom herself, to pursue a graduate degree in computer science. She signed up for two classes at a nearby state university. That's when it hit her: She was in a program with 24-year-olds who had been playing with computers since they were toddlers. Their minds processed information faster than hers. Nancy needed to spend so many extra hours on homework that she was staying up later and later. Soon she was forgetting things and losing thingssigns that she was expending far more energy than she was replenishing. The demands were just too great, and the strain of keeping up with family responsibilities as well as schoolwork left her stressed and exhausted.
But Nancy was no quitter. She gave up her few leisure activities to devote more time to her studies. Then one day she felt her heart skip a few beats. Nancy's doctor explained that a combination of stress, weight gain, and lack of exerciseall by-products of her hectic lifestylewas causing her irregular heartbeat. This served as Nancy's wake-up call. She realized that by not paying attention to her health, she had increased her risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. She took this as a challenge, declaring to her family, "I'm not going to die prematurely from one of those age-related diseases!"
Nancy enrolled in a medically supervised weight-loss program. Every time she dropped another 5 £ds or walked an extra mile, she celebrated. But even though her weight was nearing a normal range, she still was having problems with low energy, mental sluggishness, and forgetfulness. That's when she got in touch with Pat, who recommended Rhodiola rosea100 milligrams twice a day.
A week later, Nancy called, wondering if the herb could work in just 7 days or if she was experiencing a "placebo response." She reported that her mind was sharper and that her memory was improving. Best of all, she had enough energy to carry her through the day and still enjoy the company of her husband and children in the evening. And because of all she had done to restore her health, her heart no longer skipped a beat.
For both Sam and Nancy, Rhodiola rosea was one of the keys to overcoming stress and fatigue. But as Nancy learned, we also must make dietary and lifestyle choices that allow our bodies to recharge and heal.
When we spend down our energy reserves without replenishing them, we shortchange ourselves. We not only fall short of our potential, but we endanger our health as well. Rhodiola rosea can help replenish vital energy so we are able to make the necessary adjustments to live full, balanced lives.
CELLS: THE BODY'S POWER PLANTS
Since every action, thought, and emotionand especially stressuses energy, you may be wondering exactly where all that energy comes from. Each cell produces its own energy supply via the mitochondria, microscopic structures that convert nutrients from food into energy. The cells store their energy in molecules called ATP (adenosine triphosphate) and CP (creatine phosphate), which transport and release energy as necessary. If our bodies were cars, ATP and CP would be the fuel in those huge storage tanks that stand near refineries, in the trucks that fill the underground tanks at the local filling stationand in the hose that runs from the gas pump to the car.
The instructions for producing ATP and CP are encoded in our DNA. When the mitochondria generate ample quantities of these molecules, the cells have an abundance of energy and are capable of fueling all the biological activities necessary to function optimally. But if for some reason the mitochondria can't keep up with the cells' energy demands, we're at risk for a cellular energy crisis.
Researchers have identified several factors that can impair mitochondria, thereby diminishing energy production. Among them is hypoxia, a condition in which cells don't get enough oxygen to metabolize glucose and produce ATP and CP. Hypoxia can occur at high altitudes or can result from a reduced blood supply due to atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), heart or lung disease, stroke, head injury, massive bleeding, or smoking. Actually, anything that inhibits the oxygen-carrying capacity of red blood cells can set the stage for hypoxia. Incidentally, Rhodiola rosea helps protect against hypoxic damage and has been used to prevent altitude sickness.
Another factor that can compromise the energy-producing ability of mitochondria is injury to DNA and cellular membranes. Oxygen free radicals are notorious for wreaking havoc on our bodies. But in fact these unstable molecules have the potential to do good or evilhelping to destroy infectious viruses and bacteria, or assaulting essential cellular components. The phrases oxidative stress and oxidative damage refer to the harm inflicted by oxygen free radicals on DNA and cell walls, as well as on proteins. As this damage accumulates, a cell's capacity to generate energy declines. This is considered to be a major contributor to cell death, tissue damage, and aging and age-related degenerative diseases.
Because brain cells run at a very high metabolic ratemaking them the gas guzzlers of the body's energy consumersthey are especially vulnerable to oxidative damage and energy crises. When they don't have enough energy in the tank to keep running smoothly, it leads to a loss of neurons, or nerve cells. This, in turn, can accelerate brain aging and the onset of degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.7
On the bright side, recent studies suggest that we can improve energy efficiency, reduce oxidative damage, and safeguard cells in the brain and central nervous system. The key is to increase our intakes of antioxidants and adaptogens such as Rhodiola rosea, along with making healthy changes in our diets.4 Rhodiola rosea boosts energy production and defends against oxidative damage. These actions are especially beneficial in improving mental performance and preventing the deterioration of nerve cells.
THE STRESS-ENERGY EQUATION
Stress occurs whenever our activity levels exceeds our energy levels, or whenever we perceive a threat to our well-being. Ever since Hans Selye's pioneering studies in the 1930s, we've learned a great deal about stress and about the harmful effects of stress hormones on every major organ and system in the body.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I loved reading Rhodiola Revolution. It is hard to single out a section that spoke to me more than another - the writing is simple and clear - the presentation believable and exciting - and all without being sensational. The descriptions of cellular energy - vagus nerve - different stress responder types and complementary cancer care are brilliant and should make an impact on many both in the professional and lay communities. The anecdotal reports are inspiring and a dignified testament to the power of rhodiola and herbal medicine. I congratulate both of you on this landmark contribution to the literature on herbal medicine.
This book was very comprehensive in the description of what the herb Rhodiola Rosea can do for you.