Follow by Email

Nov 1, 2011

Plateau Ginseng: The High Altitude Adaptogen

In ancient China and Tibet, the pharmacopaea of medicinal herbs contained many substances for treating various diseases and enhancing the quality of life.   Few, however, were as effective as the adaptogen Rhodiola sacra, also known by the Chinese name Hong Jing Tian or plateau ginseng.  “Sacra” in the Latin name indicates that this herb was and is sacred to the Tibetan people, and in modern times it is still extremely effective for treating multiple conditions.  In Chinese medicine, it is used to tonify the Qi, or vital energy, soothe asthmatic conditions, move the blood and smooth blood flow.  In Western medicine, this can translate to enhancing energy and restoring strength after illness or surgery, enhance the mental function, dissipate bruises and swelling, and help the body to utilize oxygen better.

The channel affinity for this herb are the Lung and Heart meridians, which reflects its use by athletes- it can dramatically improve athletic performance, especially at high altitude, by increasing the body’s ability to use oxygen, and enhancing blood flow.  The energy is mild, and the flavor is both sweet and bitter.  It is thought that because it thrives at extremely high altitudes above 10,000 feet, and requires cold temperatures to grow, the adaptogenic qualities are passed onto those who use the herb medicinally.

Other herbs that greatly enhance the effects of Rhodiola are Cordyceps sinensis, (Cordyceps Mushroom) and American Ginseng/Dang  Shen.  Formulas containing these herbs, such as “Mountain Qi/High Altitude Athlete”  (available only at the Riverwalk Pharmacy) are exceptional at increasing strength and stamina at high altitude, and improving overall health and vitality for those of us living high in the mountains.  This incredible ancient herb is still helping to keep us strong in the 21st century.

Dustin Bergman, L.Ac