The people who have attempted and failed my two week Intermittent Fasting self study seem to have two common complaints:
- They’re fatigued from not eating breakfast, and/or
- They’re still binge eating even though they’re now aware physically that their brain is lying to them about hunger.
I’ve talked to dozens of people who have failed, and there are some consistent anecdotes with almost all of them. Some have a very stressful job (or experienced this during their two week self study). Others have to juggle both a job and young children. A few were going through relationship problems (which is why they wanted to get their weight under control). A handful were just high stress types.
Supplementation should be short term
I am not a fan of supplements for life. They’re expensive, and we urinate most of them out. Some aren’t even metabolized and just work under a placebo effect.
One such supplement that I am a big fan of, but for short periods of time, is Rhodiola Rosea, also called Roseroot.
Rhodiola Rosea grows in cold climates. It’s readily seen even in the Arctic. It’s a flowering plant that looks like a weed (and probably is). The dried herb has a long history in Chinese medicine, which sometimes can be a red flag to me.
From your government’s perspective (FDA), Rhodiola Rosea won’t treat or cure anything, but there are a handful of studies that show some responses in research participants.
My personal Rhodiola Rosea self studies
My first involvement with Rhodiola Rosea came when I started to feel down during my divorce. I am not one to regularly battle depression, but the financial pain definitely put my mind and heart in the gutter. A friend had recommended Roseroot, so I hopped to Chinatown in Chicago and picked up some powder. I have no idea what the strength was (or even if it was pure, of course), but within 2 days of taking it in the mornings, my stress levels dropped. Because I wasn’t so focused on the negatives happening in my life, I was able to focus more on work, and my friends, and getting out of a bad relationship. Was it only the Rhodiola Rosea? It’s hard to say, of course, but I took the powder for 2 weeks and felt less stressed over my fantasy life crashing down around me.
I used up all the powder I bought, and didn’t think about it for a few years after that. The next time it came to mind was when a business of mine was failing. I was working very hard at one business and let the other one be managed by someone who shouldn’t have had that much power. My stress levels skyrocketed because I started to put in 20 hour days, 7 days a week. My energy level plummeted. Coffee and cigarettes didn’t help. Sleep didn’t come naturally, even though I was still taking my nightly ZMA sleep supplementation (I take this one for life).
So I decided to give Rhodiola Rosea another try, this time in a retail packaging. I have always been a fan of NOW Foods and Sports Nutrition (they’re Illinois based), and was lucky to find they sold Rhodiola Rosea for a very reasonable price. I paid about $8 for 60 capsules, or a 2 month supply. Again, within a few days, my stress level appeared to drop. My business quickly failed, and I was able to reduce my work days from 20 hours a day down to my abnormal 10, but for the few weeks I was taking Rhodiola Rosea, my stress levels appeared to be manageable. Again, it’s an anecdote based on my own self study, but I wasn’t doing anything else other than working and working and working. I ended up with about 35 extra capsules after the short run, and stopped taking them once I felt like I had my stress under control again.
I recently did another self study when I had another business fail in 2014. I felt my anger bubbling up, and I pride myself on having a very long fuse for my temper. Rather than take my anger out on others (whether they deserved it or not), I decided to try Rhodiola Rosea again. Another few days after starting it, and I felt my anger drop and my patience grow. In addition to watching a business fail, a young gent who I was mentoring to for 8 months decided to give up all our hard work and get addicted to a video game. There was a day or two that I thought relieving him of some of his teeth might be a good outlet for my anger. Instead, it coincided with the start of my third Rhodiola Rosea self study — and my anger diminished, my patience with him grew, and I just let it roll off my back.
There are thousands of personal anecdotes from people who swear that Rhodiola Rosea gives them an energy boost, but without the caffeine crash. While I think I’ve noted this personally, I actually believe the reason isn’t that it gives me an energy boost, but that my stress levels dropping means I focus less on what is stressing me, and more on what needs to be done. I have done 3 self studies now, all about 2-3 weeks, and in every case I was able to stop taking the capsules right away without any withdrawal or pangs. I have no long term self study information, but like most supplements, I never take anything for longer than 6 weeks (other than ZMA for sleep, and FCLO/BO for omega 3).
Some followers of mine have taken Rhodiola Rosea after failing my two week Internittent Fasting self study. After taking a capsule every morning for a week, they find the next attempt at IF is much, much easier. Many of us binge eat when we are stressed. If Rhodiola Rosea reduces cortisol (the stress hormone), it goes to assume that lower stress means fewer reasons to binge eat. All of them who took the supplement did so only for 2 weeks: one week before re-starting the IF self study, and then during the first week of the self study.
In addition to the reduced binging anecdotes, people also say they’re seeing more stamina. Again, I doubt that Rhodiola Rosea is actually increasing their stamina levels — if anything, a reduction in even a little cortisol may mean the body isn’t exhausted so quickly. Stress is not only a killer, it’s also an energy sapper. While studies may show that Rhodiola Rosea might reduce depression, my opinion is that it just reduces stress enough so you don’t constantly focus on what is depressing you.
A few followers reported back that their lifelong chronic fatigue appears to have diminished significantly. While this could be because of the hunter-killer mode of Intermittent Fasting, I hear much more about this from those who prepared for the fasting self study by supplementing once a day with Rhodiola Rosea. Does this herb actually reduce fatigue? I doubt it. But if it does lower stress in some people, they might find themselves less fatigued because they’re less focused on the stressors in their lives.
While I am a big proponent of taking ZMA for better sleep, more than a few people who tried a 2-week Rhodiola Rosea self study reported that they were in fact sleeping better. Again, I don’t believe it’s a sleep aid, I just think that it might reduce stress in some people, and lower stress means less tossing and turning before going to sleep, and less stressful dreams. This leads to better sleep, if you are one of the folks who sees a reduced stress level or cortisol level from supplementing with it for a short period of time.
It’s a cheap self study
Rhodiola Rosea is available at Amazon for under $8, usually. If you’re a Prime member, it’s free shipping if you buy other stuff (“Add-On Item”). I also have found Rhodiola Rosea at some health food stores and Whole Foods, for anywhere from $8-$12 for a 2 month supply. I recommend doing a 2-week self study of one capsule a day, to see if you get any benefits. I have yet to go beyond my 2-3 week period, because once I get control over my stress, it doesn’t seem to pop up again.