Monday, November 2, 2009

Cordyceps and Ginseng to Boost Endurance

There are numerous herbs that boost endurance and stamina. Two of the best known are Ginseng and Cordyceps. Lots of research has been done on each of these. Ginseng has been around (in differing forms) for thousands of years and used as an anti-aging herb and Qi (energy) tonic. It is also famous for promoting virility. The variety called "American Ginseng" is highly prized because it is a balanced herb that isn't too fiery hot and safely boosts energy and stamina for almost anyone. The root of the plant is used medicinally and large, mature, wild-crafted roots can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars, but it is also raised on herb farms, making the supply more reliable.

Standard descriptions of Ginseng call it an 'adaptogen' -- an herb that strengthens the body and helps it return to normal after prolonged stress. It is going to be especially useful for someone doing prolonged sports training -- as in marathons or bike races.

A more unusual herb is Cordyceps. The description of this one sounds especially unappetizing -- it is a fungus that grows on silkworms. I always wonder how anyone ever decided to try this as a medicine, though it sounds better if you call it a mushroom. It has been around since at least the 15th Century.

Here is a quote from Wikipedia on the subject:

Outside the East, the world was largely unaware of cordyceps. This changed when the fungus caught the world's attention due to three female Chinese athletes, Wang Junxia, Qu Yunxia, and Zhang Linli. These athletes broke 5 world records for 1,500, 3,000 and 10,000 meters in 1993 at the National Games in Beijing, China. The amount of new world records being set at a single track event caused much attention and suspicion. Following the races, the women were expected by some to fail drug tests for anabolic steroids. However, the athletes' tests revealed no illegal substances, and coach Ma Junren told reporters that the runners were taking Cordyceps at his request.

I use a formula based on this herb regularly myself and recommend it to many patients. If you are an endurance athlete, it is definitely worth giving this a try.

Byron Russell

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