By Michelle Cabalse
Many competitors are choosing natural remediesto stay healthy and perform better.
XTERRA athletes develop a natural aversion to trailside roots and brush. Trees are obstacles to be avoided. Vines can trip trail runners and roots can kill a great ride. Inevitably, athletes "eat root" more often by accident than by choice. Our biggest competitor may be Mother Nature, but she is also our greatest healer.
Some herbs aid in muscle recovery. Some enhance endurance levels. Others keep our minds and our reflexes sharp. In a sport where balance and agility are the keys, being herb-friendly can be helpful. We scoured the Internet and herbal encyclopedias for athlete-friendly herbs. Here’s a list of short descriptions, common uses and recommended dosages.*
Please note: this information does not substitute the advice of a qualified physician or health professional and is not a recommendation. This information is given for educational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your personal physician for guidance. Included in this article are several good references for learning more about herbs medicinal uses to discuss with your physician.*
FEEL GOOD - Ginseng
Farmers wait five years to harvest ginseng, hence its high price. This perennial herb looks like with a fat root with arms and legs. It thrives in northern China, Korea, Russia and the US. Korean is the most popular variety today. A Russian scientist classified it as an "adaptogen," a substance that shields the body against outside stresses. Common Uses: performance enhancement, immune system booster, stabilizes normal body function. Recommended Dosages: 1 - 2 gm of raw herb, or 200 mg daily.
LOOK GOOD - Gotu Kola
Got scars? Get Gotu! For hundreds of years, Ayurvedic and Chinese medicinal practitioners used Gotu Kola to help wounds heal faster. The creeping plant is native to tropical and sub-tropical climates, and is long used in India and Indonesia for skin disorders. Common Uses: preventing scars, healing wounds, treating skin disease. Recommended Dosages: 20 - 60 mg three times daily.
THINK CLEARLY - Ginko Biloba
Food for the brain! Ginko is widely prescribed in Germany for treating Alzheimer's disease. The Chinese favored Ginko Biloba for the past 5000 years for most common ailments. Its "do everything" properties derive from its ability to enrich the body's natural oxygen levels, increasing circulation and strengthening blood vessels. In addition, its anti-inflammatory properties apparently aid in the treatment of asthma. Common Uses: improve mental function, enhance circulation, anti-inflammatory. Recommended Dosages: 40 - 80 mg three times daily of a 50:1 extract.
GO FASTER - Bee Pollen
Squeeze the bees! That's what pollen farmers do to get this cherished energy-enhancing powder. Hives are covered by screens with holes so small the insects have to squeeze through. Bees come and go, leaving behind tiny grains of pollen that seep from the sacks on their body. These grains are high in protein and carbohydrates and carry small levels of vitamins and minerals. Common Uses: improve athletic performance, strengthen immune system, treat allergies. Recommended Dosages: Follow the manufacturer's recommendations. Most tablets contain 200 - 500 mg.
REJUVENATE! - Kava Kava
First used by Pacific Islanders, who gathered for elaborate ceremonies, drinking a concoction of coconut milk and chewed-up shreds of the root. European scientists later isolated its active ingredient, kavalactones. Known also as nature's Valium, Kava's mild intoxicating effects can ease stress the night before a race. When in Hawaii for the World Championship, visit a local kava bar in Honolulu. A few bowls of the slightly bitter drink yield a warm-fuzzy buzz without the hangover. Common Uses: alleviates tight muscles, eases muscle cramps, reduces stress. Recommended Dosages: 40 - 70 mg of kavalactones daily. Be sure to check the total number of kavalactones per pill. Daily dosage should not exceed 300 mg.
Let us say it again: This information does not substitute the advice of a qualified physician or health professional and is not a recommendation. This information is given for educational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your personal physician for guidance. Included in this article are several good references for learning more about herbs medicinal uses to discuss with your physician.*
*Sources: "1001 Herbs for A Healthy Life" www.1001herbs.com
"The Natural Pharmacist" www.tnp.com
"Natural Health Bible," Second Edition by Steven Bratman, M.D. Prima Publishing, 2000
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