Thursday, October 4, 2007

Warming to a Cold War Herb - Rhodiola

Warming to a Cold War Herb: Science News Online, Sept. 22, 2007
"...Rhodiola rosea ...over the past decade a growing body of new research published in English tentatively supports the results of early Soviet research. Laboratory and animal studies show that the herb may inhibit cancer cells, protect healthy cells from toxins, and correct enzyme imbalances associated with diabetes. In addition, four trials with human volunteers show that rhodiola extracts can boost mental performance, reduce fatigue, and ease depression...Documented medicinal use reaches back at least to A.D. 77, when a physician to Roman legionnaires recommended it for headaches...When the Soviet scientists gave rats rhodiola, the animals swam 35 percent to 59 percent longer...In animals, the herb lowers production of the stress hormone cortisol. It acts as an antioxidant, helping to eliminate from the body the oxygen radicals that damage cells. And in muscles, it increases production of adenosine triphosphate, the molecule that serves as cellular gasoline...Trials in people, while not up to Western standards, hinted that rhodiola could alleviate depression, erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation, and chronic listlessness...three compounds found only in the rosea type of Rhodiola—there are at least 200 related species—were responsible for much of the plant's activity. They dubbed these compounds rosavins, and in 1989 the Soviet government declared that all rhodiola extracts must contain at least 3 percent rosavins. Dietary supplement makers throughout the world still hew to this standard..."

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