When it comes to our modern daily lives, stress is inevitable. Whether physical, emotional, or mental, we experience stress constantly, and it can have long-term consequences on our health. Removing every source of stress from life, of course, is impossible. So what's one to do?
Luckily, nature is here to help. You can stimulate your body to appropriately adapt and react to stress levels with individual plants and supplements. These plants are called adaptogens because they help make the body more resilient to different types of stress.
The ashwagandha vs. rhodiola for anxiety debate is a substantial one. They are both well-studied apoptogenic herbs used for centuries in traditional medicine to cope with stress, regulate your cortisol level, and solve other health problems. But the question is, which is right for you?
Although they have some similarities, ashwagandha and rhodiola both have their unique properties. Let's break them both down, shall we?
TOP USES AND HEALTH BENEFITS OF ASHWAGANDHA
Ashwagandha is a medicinal plant that's been used for centuries among cultures in India, North Africa, and the Middle East.
It's a round, plump shrub with oval leaves and yellow flowers bearing raisin-sized, orange-red fruit. Each part of the ashwagandha plant offers specific purposes that heal and bring balance to the body. For example, the flowers are known for their detoxifying and purifying effects. Whereas the ashwagandha root is known to reduce inflammation and swelling.
Ashwagandha boasts endless benefits for the body and mind.
LOWERS CORTISOL LEVELS
Ashwagandha offers kaleidoscopic benefits when it comes to stress. Many research shows that ashwagandha is especially beneficial for reducing cortisol levels, which is the dreaded stress hormone.
By consuming rhodiola for cortisol as part of your daily routine along with stress-reducing exercises and activities, such as yoga, meditation, and getting plenty of sleep, the adaptogenic herb can help decrease your risk of chronic stress and the effects that come with it. Actively treating oxidative stress helps prevent associated diseases, such as anxiety, hypertension, premature aging, and arthritis.
CAN DECREASE BLOOD SUGAR LEVELS
Several studies on patients with diabetes showed that ashwagandha significantly lowered blood sugar levels. One study even found it was as nearly effective as insulin.
When you pair taking an ashwagandha supplement with improving your diet and exercise routine, you'll help regulate blood sugar levels. It's also advantageous to eat foods rich in magnesium and chromium since the presence of a high blood sugar level has been linked to deficiencies of these nutrients. Foods rich in chromium include egg yolks, high-bran cereals, nuts, green beans, and broccoli. Magnesium-rich foods include fish, bananas, avocados, dark leafy greens, and whole grains.
BALANCES MALE HORMONES
Ashwagandha is an obvious choice for supporting healthy testosterone levels amongst men. It's known to increase testosterone, and also improve fertility by increasing sperm count.
In a collaborative study among several research departments at the University of Medical Sciences, Tabriz, Iran, it was found that ashwagandha benefits extended to reproductive health in both men and women in several ways. It showed it decreased infertility among males, with extracts specifically from the roots enhancing sperm quality.
IMPROVES MEMORY AND FOCUS
Ashwagandha contains both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. These qualities mean protection of the nerve cells in the brain against damage, stress, and disease. Studies show that people who take ashwagandha have better memory and focus.
The value of incorporating "brain foods" into your daily diet is nothing new. Fatty fish, dark chocolate, nuts, and leafy greens have long been touted as top foods to boost cognitive reactions. Research has shown this ayurvedic herb also benefits brain functioning by protecting nerve cells from free radicals.
TOP USES AND BENEFITS OF RHODIOLA
Rhodiola Rosea goes by a few names, like "arctic root," "golden root," and "king's crown." It grows in northern regions of Europe and Asia – including high in the mountains, unlike ashwagandha that grows in drier regions. China, Korea, and Russia have taken advantage of rhodiola's therapeutic benefits for hundreds of years.
Rhodiola tends to come in three forms: powder extract, liquid extract, and capsules.
Like ashwagandha, rhodiola is another adaptogen with a wide variety of benefits to reap.
REDUCES DEPRESSION SYMPTOMS
Adaptogens are excellent supplements for mental health because they encourage a balanced brain and neurotransmitters - a job typically accomplished by antidepressant medications.
Studies reported a reduction in depression symptoms and insomnia during clinical trials. Those who took higher doses experienced improved self-esteem.
SHARPENS THE MIND
When comparing ashwagandha vs. rhodiola, rhodiola is a go-to for those looking to improve overall mental energy. It's so potent that it even enhances energy in people with chronic fatigue syndrome.
IMPROVES PHYSICAL ENERGY AND STAMINA
Both soldiers and athletes have taken advantage of rhodiola for decades, thanks to its ability to improve physical performance. It's the ideal drug-free performance enhancer.
Rhodiola works by making exercise feel less exerting, so it's a great supplement for anyone new to working out, which needs an extra push to make it through their strenuous workouts.
POTENTIAL SIDE EFFECTS
Just like any substance, rhodiola and ashwagandha each come with their own sets of (minor) side effects.
Rhodiola can lower blood sugar and reduce blood pressure. For these reasons, anyone with an autoimmune disorder, diabetes, or low blood pressure should probably avoid rhodiola.
Ashwagandha can lower blood pressure, stimulate the thyroid, help improve your immune system, and relax the central nervous system. Anyone with an autoimmune disorder, diabetes, low blood pressure, or an overactive thyroid should talk to a doctor before taking ashwagandha.
ASHWAGANDHA VS. RHODIOLA: WHICH IS RIGHT FOR YOU?
So how do you decide which supplement is right for you? Well, if you're only looking to add one type of supplementation to your routine, ask yourself if you want a substance that stimulates the central nervous system or relaxes it?
If your primary concern is anxiety, getting a full night's sleep, or just overall relaxing, go with ashwagandha. If physical stamina and higher energy levels are what you're looking for, choose rhodiola.
Of course, you can always combine ashwagandha and rhodiola for the max amount of benefits. Many people like the calming yet focused energy they get from taking both supplements together. Each herb has its own unique properties, so why not take advantage of both simultaneously? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.