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Herbs for Athletes: No Risky Steroid Injections Required

7/24/2009 2:08:11 PM

Tags: Health, Exercise, Protein Drinks, Tips, Medicine Cabinet


I know a few guys and gals—I won’t name names—who are obsessed with enhancing their athletic performance and physical health. From protein drinks to creatine powders and quercetin supplements, they’re always out for the latest breakthrough in athletic technology. I have been caught up in this sporty fervor myself and been forced to drink protein concoctions from time to time. As long as they’re mixed with tasty fruit juices and yogurts, I’m fine, but protein powder and water – no thanks.

I begrudgingly agree that drinking protein powders after my workout does seem to help my energy and stamina. However, after reading Don Matesz’s article, Natural Healing: Making a Fresh Start, I realize that I might be getting more protein than I really need. I don’t need as much because my workouts are usually fast and furious rather than long and intense. I’m reluctant to rely on manufactured supplements, anyway. I’d prefer to get the most out of a good, healthy meal, instead of abstaining from calories and chugging protein.

protein powders
Photo by size8jeans/Courtesy Flickr 

To improve your game, you don’t necessarily have to look ahead for the next scientific supplement, just look around you. Researchers for The New Zealand Institute for Plant and Food Research found in a study this year that consuming black currants before and after your workout can decrease muscle damage, reduce inflammation and boost immune systems. 

Black Currants
Photo by Quite Adept/Courtesy Flickr

Another popular herbal classic, ginseng, is also a great natural supplement. Ginseng’s expansive family, Siberian ginseng, American ginseng and Asian ginseng, to name a few, can all help your performance. Although, a study in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, also done this year, didn’t find any conclusive evidence of ginseng’s performance enhancement, ancient practitioners from locals such as Russia and China, have consumed ginseng to enhance productivity, increase stamina and improve the immune system because of its adaptogen qualities.

Ginseng Illustration
Photo by whitney waller/Courtesy Flickr

Astragalus and schisandra are two more great options for herbal athletic enhancement because both exhibit adaptogen potential similarly to ginseng. Astragalus is especially beneficial to reduce inflammation and strengthen natural immunities.

I find the option of drinking a cup of tea made from any one of these herbs vastly preferable to the drinks I’m choking down after the gym right now.

Black currant ginseng tea
Photo by meeg-el/Courtesy Flickr 

What works best for your workout? Leave me a comment and let me know!

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