Herbs can be a benefit to an Olympian or the Olympian in us all and peak athletic performance starts with sound nutrition. A diet full of fruits, vegetables, and protein are essential to build and maintain the body. Small, nutrient dense meals both before and after a workout can help maintain energy and facilitate quick recovery. Liberal amounts of water to replace what can be lost through intense physical activity is a must, but herbs can be the missing link to great ability. Here are 7 herbs to add to your workout plans that can take you to the next level!
Nettles: It is loaded with vitamins and minerals especially calcium, magnesium and potassium which all play vital roles in muscle contraction and the prevention of cramped muscles. High in B vitamins, it can help with nerve health as well. It is a blood purifier making it helpful for good kidney and liver function.
Red Clover: Also high in calcium, magnesium, and potassium, this herb has an added bonus of being a bioflavonoid which reduces inflammation and improves heart health and circulation. It works well as an antispasmodic in addition to being a blood purifier. It has some ability to increase mucus production as well as urine to help move metabolites out of the working body more efficiently.
Burdock: Also great as a blood purifier, high in nutrition and great tasting, has a fabulous demulcent quality that can be helpful for cooling inflammation in the body. It also has a higher carbohydrate content and can be eaten fresh for a great snack either before or after a workout.
Gotu Kola: This beauty is most often used to help with circulation, especially cerebral circulation, stress, and anxiety. However; Guido Mase discusses its use in the support of connective tissue were circulation is usually less than adequate. Combined with a bit of peppermint (an anodyne), ginkgo (also a blood strengthening agent) it makes a wonderful tea to drink before or after a workout.
Rest and recovery time is also essential but the reality is, we will overdo. When that happens, instead of reaching for an over the counter painkiller, why not try a few of these herbs.
Peppermint: A mild anodyne, it is both uplifting and soothing. It has wonderful anti-inflammatory properties and can be taken as a tea, tincture, a compress or even a poultice.
Wintergreen: Containing salicylate (the active ingredient in aspirin) it also has wonderful anti-inflammatory activity. It makes a wonderful addition to a massage oil/liniment or in a combination blend with meadowsweet (astringent to tighten and tone tissues) and yellow birch bark (also very aromatic containing salicylates) to rub on tired sore muscles.
Ginger: Is often used for nausea or to bring heat to a cold system. It makes a great anti-inflammatory with the added benefit of being a diaphoretic which can help eliminate toxins from the body. Grate a bit of fresh root and drink as a tea with lemon or grate into a poultice to apply to a sore joint or muscle. It can be very soothing. It can be a part of a bath salt for achy muscles too. Fresh is best here.
We are not all blessed to become Olympic athletes but with sound nutrition and help from a few herbs, we can have a good start.