Ergogenic Aids - Enhance Athletic Performance
What are herbal Adaptogen tonics
Using herbal medicine one can improve performance with Adaptogen tonics. Adaptogen tonics are a class of herbal medicines which strengthen Allostasis. Allostasis is the body’s adaptation to stress. Allostatic (adaptive) systems are critical to survival and enable us to respond to changes in our physical state (such as asleep, awake, standing, sitting, eating, exercising, infection etc) and psychological states (such as anticipation, fear, isolation, worry and lack of control).
Adaptogens counteract and adapt to stress of many origins; restores and strengthens the body’s immune response and increases vitality. They’re used in athletes to increase stamina, endurance and facilitate rapid recovery from injuries. Simply put they allow the body and the mind to better withstand prolonged stress.
Here are some of the most widely used Adaptogen herbs used by medical herbalists to enhance performance.
Korean ginseng (Panax ginseng)
The part used is a dried or steamed preparation of the root. It is considered the most potent energy tonic in the East. Clinical trials show that 4 weeks of treatment significantly improve fatigue. After 4 months treatment with the herb it decreased the risk of contracting the common cold or bronchitis, improved appetite, sleep, wellbeing and physical performance. It has been shown to promote hair growth in animal studies.
Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus)
The part used is the dried root. Used by Russian athletes to prepare for the Olympic Games in the 1970s and 80s. Siberian ginseng appears to alter the levels of different neurotransmitters and hormones involved in the stress response. Clinical trials show that after 8 days treatment male athletes have improved work capacity and increased stamina, owing to increased oxygen metabolism. Preliminary evidence shows anabolic activity in athletes (increasing muscle weight).It provides improvement in fatigue states. Siberian ginseng is widely used to treat individuals with nervous exhaustion or anxiety due to chronic exposure to stress.
Withania (Withania somnifera)
The part used is the root. Withania has been shown to attenuate the negative effects of chronic stress, including blood sugar regulation, regulating stress hormone levels, gastric ulcerations, male sexual dysfunction, cognitive deficit and mental depression. It enhances the immune system response. It provides a strengthening action in anxiety states and improves sleep. In clinical trials when the herb was taken for one year, it improved the sexual performance of 72% of healthy aging males. Traditionally used in convalescence for people who are stressed and both physically and mentally exhausted. A great aid to episodes of intensive training.
Schisandra (Schisandra chinensis)
The part used is the fruit. Schisandra decreases liver damage due to alcohol, illicit and pharmaceutical drugs and chemical laden diets. Studies show it hastens recovery of liver function and enhances the stages of liver regeneration. Used traditionally to increase resistance to physical and emotional stressors and improve allostasis.
Other herbal medicines that have shown promise in performing athletes are Tribulus terrestris, Echinacea purpurea and Ginkgo biloba. Non herbal ergogenic aids include caffeine, carnatine and baking soda.
Quality of herbal preparations
Though quite a lot of the athletes in the recent Olympic Games were taking herbal medicines (especially in the Eastern countries) the quality of main stream preparation are to a large extent unregulated. This means there are a lot of preparations out there that hold the name of the herb on the package but the herbal preparation inside may be poorly extracted, from poor quality plants and even the wrong part of the plant. For this reason it is important to source your herbal medicines from a medical herbalist or respected companies. Generally speaking medical herbalists spend all their time researching and using quality herbal preparations and will use the highest quality preparations available.
For more information, and to obtain Herbal Medicines contact the clinic on 0719142940