By Jo Finzi
Ever wondered what made the Vikings so formidable in battle? Perhaps it had something to do with their herbal medicine…
The striking yellow flowers and rose-like scent of the rhodiola make it an unusual find in the Arctic circle, but its hardy powers are not just confined to its ability to grow in harsh conditions.
The potent root of the rhodiola has long been used in Scandinavia and Arctic Russia for treating fatigue, infections, memory loss and poor concentration.
Its body strengthening power was first documented 2,000 years ago by the Ancient Greeks. The Vikings fuelled their fighting men with the herb’s extracts, and more recently the Russian astronauts took rhodiola when training for their space programs.
Recent studies in Russia found that skiers who took the herb 30-60 minutes before competing performed better with more accuracy and concentration, combined with greater energy and stamina. Their heart’s recovery rate after exercise was also significantly improved.
A number of other studies have shown benefits on memory and concentration, with students performing better and achieving higher exam results after taking rhodiola.
The herbs secret lies in the fact that it’s packed with a range of powerful plant chemicals such as flavonoids and phenolic acids.
As a general tonic, the plant’s cocktail of goodies also helps fight off stress, by increasing the brain’s the feel-good chemicals such as seratonin and endorphins.
These numerous benefits may explain why rhodiola has a reputation for promoting immunity from illness and also long life.