Being an athlete is not just about the race itself, but a whole lifestyle of training and recovery. It’s vital, therefore, that as an athlete you stay on top of your game in every area of life, including getting deep restorative sleep, maintaining energy levels, keeping a strong immune system, managing recovery, and dealing with stress.
At PurePower, we’re not about the quick fix or the magic pill; we’re focused on helping you sustain power, harmony, and balance, which will in turn support your peak performance long-term. That’s why we’ve hand-picked these super herbs to support you holistically on a daily basis, not just as a temporary boost on race day.
Super Herb #1: Turmeric
Turmeric is a spice that comes from a flowering plant in the ginger family. It is well known for its vibrant yellow color, as well as its use in South-Asian cuisine. However, it is also an important adaptogen that has been used in Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine as a pain reliever for centuries. Modern science has shown that this is because turmeric contains bioactive compounds called curcuminoids.
Curcuminoids have powerful antioxidant properties, which help to protect against free radical damage and inflammation. Any athlete can tell you the importance of maintaining a healthy and balanced inflammatory response – not only can it help to speed up recovery, but it also means healthier joints and improved mobility.
Some studies have also shown that curcuminoids could help to regulate immune function, protect the liver, and improve circulation, all of which are important to maintaining vitality during a grueling training schedule.
Super Herb #2: Boswellia
Boswellia, also known as Indian Frankincense, comes from the tree that is native to South Asia. It is prized in Ayurvedic medicine for its pain-relieving properties, and it is now popular among athletes for the same reason.
In recent years, a number of scientific studies into Boswellia’s medicinal and anti-inflammatory properties have shown that in certain circumstances it even compares favorably with over-the-counter NSAIDs, without the same risks associated with long-term usage. For this reason, it is often used in the management of chronic inflammatory conditions such as osteoarthritis.
Boswellia’s anti-inflammatory properties could also help to manage and prevent inflammatory gut diseases like IBS, a condition that is common among endurance athletes.
Super Herb #3: Green Tea
The story goes that green tea was discovered over 4,500 years ago in China, when leaves from the Camellia sinensis tree fell into the boiling water that the emperor was about to drink. He found the resulting beverage refreshing and invigorating, and, long story short, we still drink it much the same way today.
Although green tea contains small amounts of caffeine, the amounts in green tea are far less than coffee or even black tea, meaning that it can help to give you energy, without the same jitters or crash.
Green tea is rich in natural compounds called polyphenols, which are thought to help fight inflammation thanks to their powerful antioxidant properties.
It also contains catechin, a compound that is thought to help control blood sugar levels, meaning that it could help with the metabolization of carbohydrates. Studies have also shown that green tea could help to boost endurance and aid in muscle gain, especially among older adults. Not bad for a humble cup of tea!
Super Herb #4: Eleuthero
Eleuthero is a small plant that has been used as an immune-booster in South-East Asia for centuries. Nowadays, it is used as an adaptogen as it is thought to help the body adapt better to stress. It is especially important for athletes to take care of their immunity, as the stresses of racing, coupled with grueling workouts, can take their toll on health.
We love eleuthero because, in addition to boosting the immune system, it can also raise energy levels in a more sustained way than other stimulants, as well as helping athletes to stave off exhaustion for longer. It’s thought that this is because it helps to improve oxygen circulation to muscles.
Super Herb #5: Cordyceps
We’ve covered cordyceps on the blog before, but we’re happy to bring it up again because this super ‘shroom really could be the athlete’s best friend. Like the other herbs featured here, cordyceps have been used medicinally in South-East Asia for thousands of years to boost energy, relieve stress, and protect the liver and respiratory system. Studies show that cordyceps can help to boost energy and fight fatigue, possibly thanks to the way it helps the body to deliver oxygen and energy to muscles. There is considerable research from China showing that cordyceps increases ATP (Adenosine triphosphate) at the cellular level, and increases oxygen utilization by the body, both of which naturally boost energy production.
Cordyceps also have powerful antioxidant properties and have been shown to help regulate the immune system, which could help with the management of inflammation.