Some things are just better together. Like Pavlova and Kiwifruit. Lemon and Paeroa. Or Jono and Ben. Sometimes the combo is even more epic than the parts. Ashwagandha and Rhodiola are two of the most popular adaptogen herbs and – when taken in combination – provide effects that far exceed the advantages of either herb alone.
Ashwagandha is well-known for reducing stress and promoting physical energy, while Rhodiola improves mental performance under pressure. Together they are considered an adaptogenic powerhouse - providing broad-spectrum support to the body in times of physical, emotional, and environmental stress. But first, let's look at the potency of each of these superstars in the Elevate nootropic stack separately before we discuss the incredible advantages of taking them together.
Ashwagandha - Get More Horsepower in You
Ashwagandha's name comes from the Sanskrit term "ashva," which means "horse", as its traditional use was to promote vigour and libido. Ashwagandha has been used in Indian medicine (Ayurvedic medicine) for centuries and was held to restore youth. Because of its long-valued properties of maintaining good health – and its rejuvenating effects on the body and mind – Ashwagandha is known in Ayurvedic medicine as a "Rasayana" (a Sanskrit term meaning "essence" and referring to techniques for lengthening lifespans and invigorating the body).
Ashwagandha is a herb within the Solanaceae family. Traditionally the berries of this tiny evergreen shrub are used fresh and dried, while the roots are ground to a powder and added to a beverage that tastes both sweet and astringent. The herb, which is native to India, the Middle East, and parts of Africa, has been prized since ancient times.
Some of the benefits attributed to Ashwagandha include:
- Reduces Depression, Anxiety, and Stress. When compared in studies to the drug lorazepam, an anti-anxiety medication, Ashwagandha has a soothing impact on anxiety symptoms.
- Improves Mood. Traditionally, Ayurvedic medicine impacts the mind-body sub-dosha called Sadhaka Pitta, which affects emotion. Ashwagandha has also been associated with lower self-reported stress levels in a double blind placebo study. It works!
- Regulates Cortisol. In the same scientific study, Ashwagandha was found to regulate cortisol (the body's stress hormone). And it supports the healthy inflammatory processes that are activated during stress. It promotes proper cortisol levels in the body and enhances the body's ability to respond effectively.
- Improves Muscle Strength. After eight weeks of resistance training, participants who consumed Ashwagandha root showed increased muscle strength and recovery. It promotes healthy creatinine kinase levels, which reduces athletes' natural damage from exercise and supports their post-workout recovery. Taken before exercise, Ashwagandha boosts strength, vitality, and energy for tough workouts while also minimising those post-workout blues. In both trained and untrained athletes, Ashwagandha has been found to super-charge power output, sprint performance, and VO2 max (that's a measure of how well your body uses oxygen during exercise, i.e. your aerobic capacity).
Increases Testosterone in Men/Regulates Hormones in Women. The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and the stress response are linked to sperm production and fertility in men and hormonal balance and fertility in women. However, the body produces cortisol from the same precursors used to make reproductive hormones. Adrenal production is prioritised in the endocrine system since it is required for our immediate survival (while reproduction is not).
As a result, if it has to make a choice, the body will generally produce cortisol rather than testosterone, estrogen, or progesterone under stress. We all know the feeling - that horrible moment when you're so stressed and sluggish that you're not all that interested in sex. But as Ashwagandha helps promote healthy production of cortisol, it "frees up" the HPA axis. Because of this, Ashwagandha is traditionally believed to increase sex drive, performance, and sexual satisfaction in both men and women. This is fantastic news for your general health - and your sex life! Additionally, Ashwagandha enhances fertility by increasing the production of testosterone and improving sperm quality.
Clearly, Ashwagandha has a lot of potential for athletes and those who want to get the edge on their performance in life. But what about if you're not an athlete and just want to be at your best? Ashwagandha is a scientifically proven natural remedy for stress, with anxiolytic effects (meaning it aids anxiety symptoms by inhibiting the action of certain chemicals in the nervous system).
Let's see what Rhodiola Rosea can do!
Rhodiola Rosea: Super Herb
Ashwagandha and Rhodiola Rosea are known for their adaptogenic properties. Rhodiola - also known as "arctic root"- thrives in the cold, rugged areas of Europe and Asia. Historically, its roots are used as a herbal remedy by Russians and Scandinavian people. More than 140 bioactive compounds have been identified in Rhodiola Rosea. These include rosavin, rosin, and salidroside: potent compounds and powerful antioxidants that combat free radicals.
Here are some of the benefits attributed to Rhodiola Rosea -
You'll also see that there's a lot of overlap on the advantages of Ashwagandha, but don't make the mistake of thinking they're the same. Ashwagandha is a more soothing herb, while Rhodiola is a considerably more energising one.
Increases Energy (better than caffeine). By now, you know our thoughts on caffeine. We're proud that Simply Nootropics Elevate is caffeine and stimulant free. But by reducing stress levels, Rhodiola Rosea can allow the body to concentrate on producing essential energy metabolites, giving you more natural energy back.
How it works: Cortisol is manufactured from some of the same chemical precursors required for other processes, which means stress can literally drain your body of resources. Rhodiola Rosea can improve your body's capacity to generate energy at a cellular level by lowering cortisol levels. In one research study, 100 people with chronic tiredness symptoms took 400 mg of Rhodiola daily for eight weeks and reported improvements in stress symptoms - and their fatigue was considerably reduced!
- Improves Mental Focus and Concentration. At the same time as increasing energy production, Rhodiola Rosea contains neuroprotective compounds which protect both brain cells and nerve cells from stress, oxidative damage, and inflammation.
- Can Reduce Depression. Compared to the drug sertraline (knowns as Zoloft), both Rhodiola and sertraline helped reduce depressive symptoms. Sertraline produced the more powerful effect). However, Rhodiola had fewer adverse side effects and greater tolerability, so many people prefer it.
- Effects Similar to Ashwagandha: reduces anxiety and stress; reduces cortisol production; possible anti-ageing effects; improves mood and well-being; improves physical performance in sport; increases sex drive, performance and fertility in men and women.
Why Blend Adaptogens if They're Already Powerful?
The philosophy behind Ayurvedic practices is that it's all about mixtures. And there is scientific evidence to support the traditional idea that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. It's holistic. Ashwagandha and Rhodiola are the ultimate nootropic twosome. While they are both potent and beneficial on their own, taken together, they can work synergistically.
In her book The Complete Guide to Adaptogens: From Ashwagandha to Rhodiola, Medicinal Herbs That Transform and Heal, Agatha Noveille writes about "the blending benefits that come when we take adaptogens together". Ashwagandha and Rhodiola are both adaptogenic herbs that improve mental function, increase energy, regulate hormones and help manage stress.
Ashwagandha is considered the more relaxing of the pair, whereas Rhodiola is known for its invigorating effects. They work in tandem to provide you with a calm, focused, balanced energy through the day without the need for stimulants - and the right sort of mood at night! ;)
You can get always get these two herbs separately. But why wouldn't you combine them and compound the benefits if given the choice? You can find this awesome duo combined in Simply Nootropics Elevate. The ingredients are already at the ideal dosages (Ashwagandha, daily active: 250mg; Rhodiola Rosea, daily active: 250mg). Taking the two together as part of an effective and potent nootropic stack is a great approach to boost your cognitive performance and promote your overall brain health.