The right support from plants
How to increase physical endurance and adaptability in a natural way
In the vegetal world there are plants that, given their characteristics, seem to be created for this purpose: these are classified as adaptogenic plants.
Phytotherapy is the practice involving the use of plants for the treatment of diseases or the maintenance of psychophysical wellbeing.
Today we will talk about adaptogenic plants, but to do so, we first need to outline their meaning. They are defined as "adaptogenic", which means any substance capable of specifically increasing the resistance of the organism to stressors of a different nature, both physical and psychological. Their action is aimed not at the single organ but rather corroborates the activity and the efficiency of the whole organism.
The phytotherapic adaptogens in these plants do not cause any disorder in the physiological functions of the organism, but rather, restore the altered equilibrium without disadvantaging other functions, since there is no particular force in one direction or the other. All the functions values are eventually normalized, resulting in little to none side effects.
Adaptogenic plants are therefore highly recommended to help face and overcome at best, periods of intense physical and mental stress, race preparations, intensive training, exams, hard work and periods of general overload.
Excessive physical exertion determines an oxidative stress on the body's cells, which leads to the demand for a larger quantity of ATP: a "fuel" molecule aimed to supply energy to the whole organism. Consequently, it increases aerobic metabolism and the consumption of oxygen, which is essential in producing energy.
The increase of oxygen in the flow is necessary in response to the body's need for energy, but at the same time, it also increases the production of oxidizing agents, such as free radicals.
If an untrained person undergoes intense physical exertion or trains too intensely and frequently, the hyper production of oxidizing agents causes a direct damage to the muscular cells, leading to the appearance of the typical post-workout muscle soreness.
For this reason, the intake of antioxidants and adaptogens in the form of plant-derived medications is a very effective strategy to improve performance and the overall athlete state. For every athlete, whether at a competitive or amateur level, it is important to take the right substances in order to support the body and increase its physical performance. The abilities of adaptogenics translates therefore, into a strengthening or extension of the body’s physiological functions, and is an attempt by organism to protect energy reserves and accelerate the biosynthesis of proteins and nucleic acids.
To sum up, adaptogens help us:
Improve oxidative metabolism, raising the aerobic threshold and optimizing endu- rance capabilities.
Support cardiovascular activity during resistance training, optimizing the V02 MAX.
Preserve the correct functioning of the immune system during periods of particularly intensive training, reducing the risk of overtraning.
Strengthen cellular antioxidant defenses, effectively controlling the damage that can occur by reactive oxygen species being produced as a result of intense exercise
Optimize performance during sub-maximal exercises.
Reduce the production of catabolic hormones in favor instead of the anabolic coun-
Reduce the perception of central fatigue, thus lengthening the training period
Revitalize, improving tone and mood
Improve concentration and memory
Decrease fatigue and tiredness
Stimulate the immune system
Here are a list of plants containing a wide range of adaptive substances which can produce vitamins as well as tone and energize the body. The most suitable remedy can be chosen for each personal need:
Eleutherococcus (Eleutherococcus senticosus)
Increases physical endurance and general efficiency in extraordinary load situation
Works as tonic in stressful situations and is a valid ally in improving athletic performan-
A immune-stimulant – possessing antiviral and antioxidant properties
Ginseng (Panax Ginseng C.A. Meyer)
Balances and counteracts the effects of stress
Equalizes the metabolic processes, lowering glycemia as well as improving muscle tone and stimulating the endocrine system
Rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea L.)
Energizes and invigorates
A tonic-adaptogen that works against anxiety and depression
Improves memory and concentration
Useful against insomnia, fighting fatigue and stimulating the immune system
Decelerates cellular aging, reduces nervous hunger and has aphrodisiac properties
Matè (Ilex paraguariensis St. Hilaire)
Tonic-stimulating action, diuretic, antioxidant
Used as a supplement to increase mental stimulation
Promotes digestion, giving a feeling of satiety as well as decreasing cholesterol and blood sugar levels
Significantly reduces anxiety levels
Withania (Whitania somnifera)
An immuno-stimulant, analgesic and anti-inflammatory
Anti-stress, sexual stimulant and it improves cognitive abilities
Increases aerobic power by reducing blood pressure
Reduces anxiety and depression
The best way to intake these valuable remedies is through infusions, decoctions, and mother tinctures:
In case you are using leaves or flowers: pour the remedy into water at the boiling temperature. Leave to infuse, with lid, for 5 to 10 minutes. Take 2 to 4 times a day, in between meals.
In the case of the harder parts of the plants, which include roots, seeds and bark, boil the appropriately fragmented and dried remedy in water for a period of 5 to 10 minutes, always with a lid. It is recommended to take the infusion in 2-4 cups a day.
This is the form that preserves the most active ingredients and is the easiest to use. It is a liquid solution prepared by maceration of the remedy in alcohol, with the recommended dosage ranging from 30 to 80 drops per day, diluted in a little water to drink in small sips in between meals. It is recommended to be taken in the morning to late afternoon period and not from the evening onwards, since tonic-adaptogenic remedies could interfere, in a delicate way, with your sleep.
Interactions with nutrition, training and performance during competitions or any form of other concomitant therapy or pathology, are subject to evaluation before the treatment. Phytotherapy does not replace or stand in opposition to the guidelines of conventional medicine, but establishes a virtuous synergy with them.
Dizionario di fitoterapia e piante medicinali, by Enrica Campanini, Tecniche Nuove, 2012
Erbe che curano, Giunti Demetra, 2015