Herbs have always been at the forefront of nutraceuticals, which involve herbal preparations and their effects in promoting a faster metabolism.
Herbs have also been extensively used in the bodybuilding and athletic segments and figure prominent roles in supplements and other health products.
It is thought that certain herbs promote the conditions that boost strength, endurance, and power needed to achieve in the field. Herbal supplements have been used by athletes as part of their training regimen. Better still, herbal supplements are natural to make them popular choices across many uses–fitness included.
Let’s take a look at 8 herbs that help you in your quest to become harder, better, faster, and stronger.
Ashwagandha has long been used in Ayurveda and other traditional medicinal systems. They are categorized as adaptogens or plants that can help manage hormonal imbalances in the body to deal with anxiety-inducing situations.
Research has shown that high-stress levels lead to increased cortisol production. The production of cortisol, known as the stress hormone, interferes with the metabolic process of burning fat.
Moreover, clinical studies on individuals that use Ashwagandha for extended periods experienced a 13% increase in maximum oxygen intake and an overall 10% endurance boost. Increased oxygen levels deliver more oxygen to the cells, leading to better performance.
2. Maca root
Maca is a plant endemic to the Andes Mountains of Peru. Its moniker is “Peruvian ginseng,” and for a good reason: maca root extract contains performance-boosting and androgenic properties, apart from being rich in vitamins C, B6, and trace minerals. Maca root extract is often used in male performance enhancement supplements due to its vasodilatory properties that give your muscles a boost in size, stamina, and power. Maca root also promotes faster recovery after workouts.
3. Siberian Ginseng
Speaking of ginseng, one of the most well-known strains of the herb thereof is its Siberian counterpart.
Siberian ginseng has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for ages and figures in plenty of supplements to this very day due to its ability to boost energy and stamina.
Moreover, Siberian ginseng possesses adaptogenic properties, promoting stress reduction. It also promotes improved cognitive function, quicker recovery, reduced hypertension, among other things.
Studies showed that Siberian ginseng supplementation in a small sample size increased the participants’ maximum oxygen intake by nearly 13%, leading to a 23% improvement in output. It’s also thought that the plant helps prevent muscle soreness during workouts by reducing lactic acid buildup.
4. American Ginseng
You can’t have enough of the good ginseng. American ginseng is often used in conjunction with Asian ginseng strains, which are adaptogens that help boost recovery, calm the mind, and stimulate the nervous system, leading to relaxation. They also have anabolic and catabolic functions, promoting testosterone production and stress reduction.
American ginseng boosts endurance, delaying the body’s responses to fatigue. This helps you go longer and stronger during your physical activities and workouts.
Regular ginseng use is thought to help reduce muscle damage over time as you shift in between exercises.
Echinacea, or coneflower, on the other hand, figures heavily in traditional American Indian medicine as a treatment for flu, colds, and common respiratory ailments. Echinacea is also used for its antibacterial properties. Over 300 studies have been conducted on this plant, most of which support the immune-boosting effects of echinacea.
An improved immune system aids quicker post-workout recovery, meaning you’ll build up the stamina to push your limits. Moreover, improved immunity helps hasten the healing of microtears induced by exercise–leading to muscle gains.
6. Tribulus Terrestris
Tribulus terrestris, in the Ayurvedic tradition, is used for boosting sexual endurance and treating symptoms of erectile dysfunction.
Tribulus was found to improve testosterone bioavailability. A small study showed that healthy individuals who supplemented with 750 mg doses of this herb for a week gained a substantial increase in testosterone levels by as much as 30%.
Research posits Tribulus’ effects in boosting luteinizing hormone production, a prerequisite for testosterone production. High testosterone levels increase energy and stamina levels and boost fat burning and muscle growth. Tribulus undoubtedly has the potential to help you achieve your fitness goals.
Cordyceps isn’t exactly an herb but rather a fungus that grows in insect larvae. The fungus grows by parasitizing nutrients from the host and creating small stems growing out of the insect’s body.
Cordyceps is thought to increase ATP biosynthesis, which is essentially the body’s fuel. Increased energy may help boost maximum oxygen intake levels and endurance.
8. Green Tea
For thousands of years, Camellia sinensis, or green tea, has long benefited cultures that consumed it even to this very day. Green tea not only improves metabolic and fat-burning functions but also increases endurance for athletes. Moreover, green tea helps cut cardiovascular disease risk and maintains glycogen to help you go longer. Its fat-burning properties won’t disappoint bodybuilders and athletes of all kinds. Consider switching your cup of morning Joe to green tea and see the difference for yourself.
This is but an introduction to the infinitely abundant world of herbs that could help you achieve your health and fitness goals.
Traditional medicinal systems such as Ayurveda and TCM (traditional Chinese medicine) have many herbs that may benefit athletic performance. However, it must be noted that more research is needed to ascertain the veracity of such claims. These are among the most common herbs athletes use that figure in plenty of supplements out in the market today. Before taking any herbal supplements, consult your doctor and be vigilant, as plenty of counterfeits and scammy products are going around.