Today we are going to discuss a plant so powerful it was a state secret of the Soviets for many years. This plant was used to power soldiers as far back as the Viking era. Viking warriors had to endure all sorts of hardship and this plant kept them going on their long and stressful voyages.
Flash forward to the Soviet war in Afghanistan, and Russian soldiers were using it to give them energy and resistance to stress in the face of the Mujahideen.
Next we have the Soviet Olympians, who were given this plant with the hope that it would provide overwhelming strength and allow them to win with ease. Nobody mentioned this plant in case its extraordinary power led to other countries banning it.
Finally, this plant was so powerful that the Soviets kept it secret right up until the end of the Cold war. Their top scientists believed that this substance could be a vital part of enhancing the communists’ military effort, by creating a solider so focussed and resistance to stress that he would be unstoppable.
Just what was this miracle? Some form of highly advanced super-steroid?
No – the answer is Rhodiola Rosea. At first glance Rhodiola is a fairly typical plant. You can see its picture to the left; it doesn’t look like anything out of the ordinary. But when ingested orally its effects can be extraordinary, and the Soviets knew it.
Rhodiola is an extremely powerful adaptogen – an herb that can adapt your body to stress. It worked on the Vikings by increasing their resistance to stress, and it worked on Soviet soldiers by doing the same thing. This resulted in clarity of mind and a vastly superior ability to fight.
How Rhodiola Rosea affects acne
One of the main mechanisms through which Rhodiola Rosea controls stress is by reducing excessive levels of cortisol, the stress hormone that is notorious for causing acne. Any mental stress you experience triggers an increase in cortisol, and when it does, it triggers the biological ”flight or fight” symptoms such as a racing heartbeat, lowered tolerance to pain, and a strong desire to run or hit something.
Those effects are great in the short term as they help you to survive, but if they last too long they will cripple you. When cortisol is constantly elevated all sorts of harmful effects pop up such as muscle wasting and brain shrinkage.
If you are chronically stressed out about anything, then your cortisol levels are probably too high. Consequently, many citizens of the West today have high cortisol levels…
…and one of Rhodiola’s key effects is the normalisation of this cortisol system. Adaptogens moderate your cortisol levels, meaning that they don’t necessarily reduce them, but they do normalise them if they are too high. This is extremely important for your acne because having high cortisol is a massive cause of it. If you’re like most people then you’ll have noticed that your acne gets worse during a stressful period at work, for example.
High cortisol can disrupt your bodily function in endless ways. A particularly spectacular symptom of high cortisol is a weird body shape caused by altered fat distribution; arms that are stick thin, accompanied by an enormously round stomach.
As for your acne, cortisol can inhibit wound healing, it can cause elevated blood glucose levels, and can severely impair the absorption of important nutrients from food.
Cortisol is truly vicious when elevated, and the fact that Rhodiola Rosea can reduce it makes it an extremely useful acne herb. Its power is not theoretical either; tons of studies have shown that it is a force to be reckoned with:
- Scientists in this study took 60 people who suffered from chronic stress and fatigue, both men and women. They divided them into 2 groups of 30 people each. Group one was given an extract from the Rhodiola Rosea plant, whereas group 2 received a placebo. After 28 days both groups were tested on various measures, including the cortisol levels in their saliva. The results were impressive; group 2 had a decrease in cortisol levels, due to the well-documented placebo effect, but the decrease in the Rhodiola group was significantly bigger. The scientists concluded that Rhodiola Rosea was a potent cortisol inhibitor.
- This interesting study on rabbits examined something rather different. Instead of simply supplementing with Rhodiola to find the effect on cortisol, they first gave them Rhodiola and then exposed them to a stressor. The idea was to see if Rhodiola suppressed the cortisol increase in response to stress. The results confirmed that it did, and by a significant amount. This supports the powerful effects that the Soviet soldiers noticed.
- This study found a similar result. It found that Rhodiola prevented an increase in cortisol in humans who were exposed to endurance tests.
You also have all the secret Soviet studies which were performed. The studies above were all conducted over the last ten years, but back in the 1980s the Soviets knew how powerful it was regardless. Then you have the vast wealth of anecdotal and historical evidence to consider.
Scientists are not sure how exactly Rhodiola Rosea works. What they do know is that the herb is most powerful when it contains the right ratio of certain compounds. Rhodiola Rosea contains compounds called Rosavins and Salidroside, and tests find that the effects are strongest when there’s a ratio between them of 3:1; therefore we can assume that they are important.
Regardless of how it does so, we know for sure that Rhodiola Rosea is a potent way to reduce cortisol.
How to use Rhodiola Rosea
The next question is: do you actually need Rhodiola Rosea to clear your acne? The answer is: no you don’t. However if you are particularly stressed out then it will give you an excellent boost.
A circumstance in which Rhodiola Rosea is useful is if you are rather stressed out and have high cortisol levels, and are struggling to reduce them. Say you are using plenty of vitamin C, and you are using plenty of mental hacks but they’re still not working; that’s when Rhodiola can cause good improvements in acne.
Rhodiola Rosea won’t work if you’re not stressed out at all. The effect it has also depends on exactly how stressed you are. Rhodiola does not produce the same decrease in cortisol each time; instead it normalises cortisol to regular levels. Therefore, as your stress increases your scope for improvement also increases.
If Rhodiola does work for you then you should notice many effects; faster wound healing, less blocked pores, and all round improvements thanks to more efficient digestion.
Cortisol can often lead to highly elevated insulin levels, and because insulin stimulates your sebaceous glands, Rhodiola Rosea should lead to less oily skin. Once your oil production is down then your pores will unblock and your acne will find it harder to appear.
If your acne is driven primarily by stress then the results could be excellent.
The most effective Rhodiola Rosea
The first thing it’s critical to remember is to take Rhodiola Rosea. The Rhodiola family is extremely varied and contains over 50 different plants; some other species include Rhodiola Integrifolia and Rhodiola Rhodantha.
Only Rhodiola Rosea has the stress-busting effects so that’s what you have to buy. If a product simply says “Rhodiola” then check the specific ingredients and the small print. It will probably be the real deal but it’s best to look for “Rosea” specifically.
The second important requirement, and this is very interesting, is that the Rhodiola Rosea has to be grown in Siberia or another extremely harsh environment. The chemical composition of the plant is reportedly what gives it the stress-busting effects, and those chemicals depend on the environment in which it is grown.
If it’s grown in the wrong place then the all-important ratio between Rosavins and Salidroside will be out of whack; therefore you have to check the label for “sourced from Siberia” or something similar.
Finally you have to make sure that the supplement is freeze dried. Because most Rhodiola Rosea supplements are powders, they have to remove the moisture from the raw plant to make it concentrated enough. Freeze-drying is when the moisture is frozen, and then removed through evaporation. All the nutritional goodness is retained and no harsh chemicals are used.
The inferior alternative to this is spray-dried, meaning that the Rhodiola is blasted with various chemicals that create an impure product.
Those requirements sound extremely specific but the supplement companies are well aware of how important they are, and thus you can find high quality products quite easily. All this was discovered by a scientist called Zakir Ramanazov. He was actually one of the soldiers in the Afghan war that used Rhodiola Rosea. He was so impressed with its power that he devoted his entire life (he died in 2006) to researching it.
It’s thanks to him that we have all this detailed knowledge about how to make the very best supplement possible. So remember: your supplement must be Rhodiola Rosea, it must be from Siberia, and it must be freeze dried.
A brand which meets all those requirements is this Freeze Dried 100% Wild-crafted Siberian Rhodiola Rosea.
Another advantage of Rhodiola Rosea is that it has no side effects at all. An adaptogen has none by its very nature; for a plant to be classed as an adaptogen, one of the key requirements is that it is non-toxic to the human body.
The study referenced above also found that there were no side effects at all. Few people have ever reported any, so we can safely say that you can enjoy the benefits without any problems.
I’ve only seen a couple of bad stories about disorientation and fatigue – that’s pretty much it. There’s a chance that you will have a previously unheard of reaction, so don’t take Rhodiola Rosea without consulting a doctor first. I’m not a doctor and this article is not medical advice. But the potential for clearing acne is truly excellent.
If you have a problem with cortisol, or are generally very stressed out, then Rhodiola Rosea could have excellent effects on your skin.
It is not one of those scam products, one of those “mystical herbs” that you see flooding the market. There’s tons of evidence for Rhodiola Rosea and the fact that the Soviets made it a state secret shows just how great it is.
Remember to get the right product, and it’s also important that you cycle it. If you use herbs like Rhodiola Rosea every day then you can build up resistance to them. To prevent this you should use a basic cycling strategy; you could take it for one week and then have another week off, for example. The key is to take breaks so that your body doesn’t become resistant.
Do that and Rhodiola Rosea could cause a good improvement in your acne. It’s not guaranteed to work, but it is certainly worth a shot if you are looking for an extra boost.
Thanks for reading!