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ashwagandha

If Mama Ain’t Happy…

How does the old saying go?  “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.”  Most people can relate to this statement.  But, just because you can relate, doesn’t mean you necessarily know exactly how to make mama happy.  While both genders are subject to the blues and depression now and then, women are twice as likely to suffer from depression and anxiety than men. There are a number of explanations for this including biological reasons, psychological reasons and sociocultural explanations.

Let’s start with the biological reasons.  First of all, women may have a stronger genetic predisposition to developing depression and compared to men, women are much more subjected to fluctuating hormone levels. This is especially the case around the time of childbirth and during menopause, both of which are associated with an increased risk of developing depression.

 

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There are also some psychological reasons that women are more prone to moderate to severe depression.  Women are more ruminative than men, that is, they tend to think about things more—which, though a very good thing, may also predispose them to developing depression. In contrast, men are more likely to react to difficult times with stoicicism, anger or substance misuse.  In addition, women are generally more invested in relationships than men. Relationship problems are likely to affect them more, and so they are more likely to develop depression.

Finally, there are a couple of sociocultural reasons that may explain why women tend to battle with depression more than men.  Women live longer than men. Old age is often associated with bereavement, poor health, and loneliness.  All of these can lead to depression.

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Women are also more likely to receive and accept a diagnosis of depression. For starters, they are more likely to consult a physician and to discuss their feelings with the doctor. Conversely, physicians (whether male or female) may be more likely to diagnosis depression in a woman.

So ladies, those are the unfortunate facts.  You’re more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety.  However, don’t despair, your friend  AdaptoGenie is here with some herbal wisdom.  Here is a list of  3 adaptogenic herbs that help balance female hormones and assist women in preventing or dealing with depression and anxiety.

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1. Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)

Ashwagandha is a popular herb in the Indian system of medicine Ayurveda. Ashwagandha has a balancing effect on the adrenal glands and the thyroid. People with hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism are both benefited by taking Ashwagandha extract.

Ashwagandha can reduce stress, improve blood circulation, and prevent premature aging. It is considered an aphrodisiac, and is used to treat erectile dysfunction in men, but its ability to relieve stress is thought to be behind this effect. A similar effect on women is attributed to increased blood flow to the reproductive organs.

As the species name ‘somnifera’ suggests, Ashwagandha improves sleep. It has a rejuvenating effect on older people, helping them to regain physical vigor and vitality. It also improves memory.

maca

2. Maca root (Lepidium meyenii)

The root of this turnip-like plant belonging to the cabbage family is called Peruvian ginseng after its native place, though it is actually no relative of true ginseng. The highly nutritious root is used as a vegetable, and is consumed in the Andean cuisine. But what made it popular is its energy boosting effect that is thought to have provided strength and stamina to the Inca warriors of old.

The hormone balancing effect of this root provides additional benefits like stress relief. Maca root has plant hormones that confer special benefits to women such as relieving premenstrual syndrome and menopausal symptoms like hot flashes and night sweats.

suma

2. Suma root (Pfaffia paniculata)

Suma is native to South America.  The root extract of this herb is known to normalize endocrine function, improve immunity, and increase strength and performance. In its native land, Suma is known as a ‘cure all,’ and it is used for treating a large number of ailments besides being used as a general tonic and calming agent.

Suma is also known as ‘Russian Secret’ because Russian athletes used an ergogenic compound ecdysterone extracted from the Suma plant to increase sports performance. It was found to be free of the side effects associated with many other anabolic steroids. Although it remained a well kept secret of the Russians for quite some time, this compound is now used by sportspersons everywhere. Other uses of this herb includes enhancing memory, stimulating appetite, and balancing blood sugar levels.

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Whether you currently suffer from depression or have a history of depression and anxiety in your family or are just looking to generally improve your mood, adding these 3 powerful adaptogens to your daily routine will do wonders.  Look, now mama is happy and everybody is happy about that!

 

Build More Muscle With Ashwagandha

Athletes, body builders and/or anyone who wants to build lean muscle and look better should check out this November, 2015 study examining the effects of ashwagandha on muscle strength and recovery.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26609282

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Here is the conclusion: “This study reports that ashwagandha supplementation is associated with significant increases in muscle mass and strength and suggests that ashwagandha supplementation may be useful in conjunction with a resistance training program.”

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Pretty impressive stuff!  So, if you are looking to get stronger and build more muscle, do it the right way, the healthy way, with ashwagandha!

 

 

No Horsing Around, Ashwagandha Works!

In Sanskrit Ashwagandha means literally, “the smell of a horse.” Fortunately, this name  does not refer to the smell of the plant itself, but instead is indicative of Ashwagandha’s ability to impart the vigor and strength of a stallion.  Historically, Ashwagandha has been particularly beneficial helping people strengthen their immune system after an illness.

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After years of scientific studies involving Ashwagandha, researchers have determined that this amazing plant has a myriad of health giving properties.  Four recent studies clearly illustrate Ashwagandha’s broad array of benefits.

  1. Physical Performance
    In a small double-blind, placebo-controlled study, healthy participants receiving a standardized root extract of ashwagandha for eight weeks showed an increase in speed and muscular strength by nearly 10% in tested physical activity.2
  2. Focus and Concentration
    In this double-blind, placebo-controlled study, twenty healthy males were given 500 mg of ashwagandha root extract for fourteen days. Significant cognitive improvements were seen in reaction-time tests, discrimination tests, and in card sorting tests, among many others. These results show ashwagandha’s ability to support attention, memory, focus, concentration, and responsiveness and coordination between the mind and motor functions.3
  3. Stress and Food Consumption
    In a study with fifty-two healthy subjects experiencing stress for a long period of time, ashwagandha (300 mg twice daily) not only decreased stress (as measured by the perceived stress scale), but also food cravings and overall body weights. This was a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial that lasted eight weeks.4
  4. Rejuvenation
    In a clinical trial with healthy male volunteers aged fifty to sixty-nine, purified ashwagandha powder, given as 3 grams per day for one year, showed increases in blood counts, improved posture, and increased hair melanin (pigmentation of the hair). In another study, healthy children who were given 2 grams of powdered ashwagandha in milk, experienced improvements in blood counts, body weight, and hand strength.

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Truly, Ashwagandha is an herb that can benefit people of all ages.  Because, it is an adaptogen, it has a non specific effect and helps bring the body and mind into balance, it can be taken over an extended period of time with no adverse side effects.  So, put some giddyup into your daily health regimen with Ashwagandha!

References

2 Sandhu Jaspal, et al. “Effects of Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha) and Terminalia arjuna (Arjuna) on physical performance and cardiorespiratory endurance n healthy young adults.” Int J Ayurveda Res. 1, no 3 (July-Sept 2010):144-149.

3 U Pingali, et al. “Effect of standardized aqueous extract of Withania somnifera on tests of cognitive and psychomotor performance in healthy human subjects.” Pharmacognosy Res. 6, no 1 (January 2014):12-8.

4 D Choudhary, et al. “Body Weight Management in Adults Under Chronic Stress Through Treatment with Ashwagandha Root Extract: A Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trial.” J Evid Based Complementary Altern Med. April 6, 2016.

5 Lakshmi-Chandra Mishra, Betsy Singh, and Simon Dagenais. “Scientific Basis for the Therapeutic Use of Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha): A Review.” Alternative Medicine Review. 5, no 4 (2000):334-346.

Adaptogens For Athletes – 7 Performance Powering Plants!

Competitive athletes are always looking for an edge.  In the world of sports, the difference between winning and losing can be a couple inches or a few hundredths of a second.  You may have watched an Olympic event where the difference between an athlete receiving a gold medal and one finishing in 4th place, out of the medals and never mentioned and/or celebrated is miniscule.  Almost every serious athlete has experienced the joy of victory and the devastation of defeat and recognizes the slim margin between those two outcomes.  As a result, most competitors continue searching for something, anything, that can add a little extra speed, strength or mental focus to make the difference between winning and whining.

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With all the controversy surrounding performance enhancing drugs, you need to know that there is a natural alternative.  If you are an athlete and you would like to improve your performance through better nutrition, there are a number of adaptogenic herbs that can safely and effectively provide you with that competitive advantage.  Here are seven adaptogens that have been documented to drastically improve athletic performance.

Eleuthero

Eleuthero, also known as Siberian ginseng, is particularly effective for athletes and can boost energy, sharpen mental concentration and help improve strength and stamina.  Studies have shown that when taken consistently, eleuthero will improve one’s ability to manage stress, tolerate heat and endure longer and more intense workouts.  Russian athletes started taking eleuthero in the 1970’s and were able to significantly improve stamina, endurance and mental focus.

Cordyceps & Reishi Mushrooms

New research has determined that two adaptogenic mushrooms Reishi and Cordyceps significantly improve performance and recovery in cyclists.  The double blind study conducted by researchers from Italy’s Pavia University have found these two adaptogens to be powerful performance boosters by increasing the production of testosterone and decreasing the production of cortisol.  The cyclists in the study demonstrated greater stamina and shorter recovery times after taking reishi and cordyceps .

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Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha is a classic ayurvedic herb. Ayurveda is one of the oldest forms of medicine, dating back thousands of years, and ayurvedic practitioners have long known about the benefits of ashwagandha.  In a recent study involving elite athletes, ashwagandha was shown to dramatically improve cardiovascular endurance.  In the study, athletes were given 500 mg of ashwagandha twice a day for eight weeks.  The placebo group was given capsules filled with starch.  Here is the conclusion as written by the clinical research team:

“To date, most of the properties of Ashwagandha have been studied, investigated and reported only in sedentary healthy subjects having low fitness levels. Thus, this study was designed to analyze its effectiveness in improving performance in well-trained athletes. Considering the fact that it is difficult to detect minor changes in elite athletes, this study was the first of its kind to document the significant improvements in aerobic performance with regard to cardiorespiratory and cardiovascular endurance of elite athletes”

Rhodiola

The science involving Rhodiola is amazing and it is perhaps the most thoroughly tested of the well-known adaptogens.  Historically it was consumed by the ancient Greeks and Vikings for strength and stamina.  Rhodiola may have its greatest effect on the mental part of athletic performance. In multiple double-blind, placebo controlled studies, Rhodiola Rosea enhanced learning, prevented mental fatigue, reduced errors and improved the quality of work produced. Rhodiola rosea has the most pronounced effect on mental fatigue during stress and strain when compared to other adaptogens.  In other words, rhodiola may provide you with the drive and/or mental toughness to push through a difficult workout helping you to achieve a personal best in speed or strength training.

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Rhaponticum

Scientific studies performed on Rhaponticum (also known as Maral Root) have shown this adaptogen improves overall physical performance, and shortens recovery time after an intense workout.

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In athletes who use Rhaponticum regularly, it demonstrates a marked anabolic effect, and aids the body in the synthesis of protein. It also appears to protect the body from environmental stress. Rhaponticum is prescribed to athletes by Russian sports physicians in order to replenish depleted physical and psychical reserves that become exhausted as a result of hard training. After taking Rhaponticum carthamoides extract, an increase in muscle mass and a decrease in fat tissue has been documented by researchers.

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Schisandra

Schisandra is the berry of a climbing vine native to northeast China and parts of Russia.  According to the results of recent human studies schisandra has demonstrated the ability to increase stamina and endurance in athletes, specifically in distance runners, gymnasts and cross country skiers.  Chinese athletes have been using schisandra to boost performance for more than 2 decades.  Schisandra also has shown the additional benefit of limiting mental fatigue and improving concentration and mental alertness.

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So if you are an athlete and you’re looking for an edge, either mental or physical, adaptogens have you covered.  Adaptogens are safe for daily use and are devoid of side effects, unless you consider “winning” a side effect.  So, let adaptogens start improving your performance.  They can be your secret weapon, your competitive advantage.

Adaptogens – Centuries Old Secrets Revealed

For too long, the secret of adaptogenic herbs has been” bottled up,” so to speak.  But the time has come for a new look and a new appreciation of the power of ancient healing.  So I, the great AdaptoGenie, have emerged from centuries of concealment carrying with me secrets from the past and timely advice for the future. (No, I’m not just blowing smoke.)

So, why now?

Because I believe adaptogens may very well hold the key to restoring health and vitality to a world that presently seems destined toward disease or fated to feel bad.  But before I tell you more about the secrets I bring, permit me to start with a little history lesson.  (When you have lived as long as I have, history is kind of your thing.)

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For millennia, man (and woman) has relied on the power of plants to heal from and ward off illness.  Traditional herbal philosophies such as ayurveda from India, traditional Chinese medicine, Tibetan medicine, Greco-Arabic medicine, kampo from Japan and Native American medicine were all based on the amazing healing effects of plants.  Many of the herbs held in highest esteem within these cultures were those with the broadest benefits.  In fact, all of these traditions speak of seemingly miraculous plants with the ability to restore physical and emotional balance and harmony.  Each of these cultures shared stories about the existence of certain plants with the astonishing ability to adjust their effects based on the individual needs of the person consuming them.

In Ayurveda, there is a class of herbs called “rasayana.”   These herbs were believed to strengthen tissues and organs throughout the body.  These herbs were said to revitalize and regenerate.  They were plants that would slow down the aging process and build up one’s resistance to disease.

chinese-herbs

Chinese herbal medicine, has for centuries, studied plants and recorded their effects on health and wellness.  The most cherished class of plants according to the Chinese philosophy is a group they labeled the Superior class.  These are herbs that can be taken in large quantities, over an extended period of time, with no risk of ill effects.  These superior plants are believed to enhance normal physiological functions rather than force a specific physical or emotional effect.

With the rise of allopathic medicine at or about the turn of the 20th century, the use of plant based remedies steadily declined and more and more health practitioners turned to synthetic drugs and surgical procedures to treat illness.  So, for more than a century now, the remarkable benefits of adaptogens have gone underutilized and unappreciated.  Well, I AdaptoGenie intend to change all of that.

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If you, or someone you know, may be interested in;

  • Increased energy
  • Stronger immunity
  • Improved performance (both athletic and sexual)
  • A more balanced mood
  • Stress management
  • Greater stamina
  • Improved digestion
  • Better sleep

then I encourage you to follow this blog and like my page @adaptogenie on Twitter or Facebook.  In the weeks to come I, and a prestigious list of guest contributors including renowned herbalists, acclaimed research scientists and knowledgeable health experts, will be sharing life changing information about adaptogens and mind body wellness. So, if you’ve been wishing for better health and vitality, I can grant that wish by giving you the power and knowledge you need to take control of your own health.

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