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Introduction to adaptogens and physical performance

04.07.2019

Adaptogens, such as Panax Ginseng and Ashwagandha have been utilized in their native habitats for thousands of years for a wide range of ailments and accrued benefits.

The term “adaptogen” was first used in 1940 by a Soviet scientist N. Lazarev, when he described Schisandra Chinensis and other bioactive herbs with the definition: “plant-originated adaptogens that can non-specifically enhance the human body”. In 1998, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) defined adaptogen as a new kind of “metabolic regulator that has been proven to help in environmental adaptation and to prevent external harms”.

Over the last decade interest in and utilization of adaptogenic herbs has been rising fast worldwide, with sales of category leaders such as Ashwagandha and Rhodiola rosea experiencing triple-digit growth. Adaptogens have been subjected to increasing scientific scrutiny and testing. Manufacturers have released adaptogen based supplements.

Most adaptogen based products in the market focus in dealing with mental stress, which is understandable given the epidemic levels of stress in the modern society. As our body’s typical response to external stressors is similar in instances of mental and physical stress, adaptogens are also highly effective in modulating physical stress reactions. They have huge potential in dealing with the considerable physical issues that athletes and practitioners of physically demanding vocations face (on top of other daily stressors like money and relationships).

Adaptogens work by modulating stress levels in the body

The most important characteristics of adaptogens, such as stress-protection and a stimulatory effect, are common to all herbal plants classified as adaptogens. Their effects however differ under different circumstances, as have been documented in a number of clinical studies and reviews.

One past scientific review focused on 35 clinical trials on Eleuthero in healthy human subjects, with ca. 6000 subjects, aged 19 to 72, which were performed in normal and stressful conditions: high-temperature environment, forced work, loud noise conditions, motion sickness, heavy physical burden, hypertension, mountain rescuers under forced conditions, athletes, deep-sea divers, intense mental and physical work, and factory workers under extreme working conditions. An improvement of physical and mental work capacity of test subjects was noted in all tested, highly varying stressful circumstances.

What’s more, scientific testing of adaptogen combinations has proven that adaptogens work better when they are used in combination, as their shared and unique effects are compounded with concurrent usage. We will return to this theme in our blog later.

One of the most intriguing characteristics of adaptogenic herbs is the adjustment of their effect to the specific needs of the individual and circumstances (ie. “the non-specificity” of their enhancing effect noted by the Soviet scientists). Adaptogens do not possess one specific mechanism of action, instead they respond to the needs of the body in a balancing manner. For example if testosterone levels are low, they can help raise them to normal, and vice versa. Adaptogens are sometimes described in layman’s terms as a “stress thermometers”, modulating stress responses according to the body’s needs.

We at Rohtos Labs have been focusing in utilizing adaptogens especially for natural enhancement of physical performance. Select adaptogens (as well as other herbal substances) provide a wide range of proven benefits with regards to physical performance.

Adaptogens can promote anabolic recovery. They can produce positive stress response outcomes and modulate associated steroid and other hormone expression. Adaptogens can strengthen the functioning of organ systems, promote optimal response, promote recovery of function and help regulate energy use by improving the function of the neuroendocrine system and by enhancing energy transfer on cellular level, which helps the body to utilize oxygen, glucose, lipids and proteins more effectively.

Rohtos Labs Overpower, Combination Adaptogen Supplement

Rohtos Labs Overpower is a combination adaptogen supplement. It contains full-spectrum extracts refined from five premier adaptogens chosen for their performance-supporting effects.

  • Ashwagandha, an ayurvedic champion plant that does it all metabolically and does it well,
  • Cordyceps Militaris, a mushroom renowned for its capabilities in modulating hormone levels and boosting lung function,
  • Eleuthero, also known as the Siberian Ginseng and used by Siberian natives, cosmonauts and soldiers alike to ward off exhaustion,
  • Rhodiola rosea, a well-researched mental energy, mood and muscle function modulator native to northern climates, and
  • Panax Ginseng, the original Korean Ginseng and a premier Qi, or energizing, tonic of Chinene medicinal tradition.

The five adaptogens in Overpower are augmented by five other herbal extracts.

  • Mucuna Pruriens, mainly as a source of L-DOPA, a dopamine precursor, to augment the effect of energizing adaptogen compounds,
  • Green coffee bean, for its caffeine (in itself a phenomenal performance booster) and chlorogenic and ferulic acid content,
  • Acerola for its vitamin C content (to increase the bioavailability of other compounds), but also for its wide variety of other bioactives,
  • Shilajit, an organic super electrolyte consisting of tens of trace minerals and organic acids slowly derived from decomposing plant matter in rock foundation, and
  • Piperine, the flavonoid from black pepper, which enhances the absorption of a wide variety of compounds by modulating their breakdown in the liver.

The herbal blend of Overpower is designed to provide performance support on a systemic, whole-body scale, with an effect over all major organ systems relevant to physical performance. We will be going through all Overpower compounds in our blog, to review their benefits and to have a look at the relevant science.

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