Health News You Can Use - Part Two

© 2007 Leonore H. Dvorkin

Note: This article was originally published in the December 2007 issue of the Denver publication Community News.

The Benefits of Rhodiola rosea

Having used this amazing supplement for several weeks, I really have to wonder why it has not received more attention. Ancient Roman legionnaires used it, and the Soviets have been studying the herb since the 1940s, giving it to Olympic athletes and cosmonauts. Now, English research is beginning to support the results of early Soviet research. In 2004, in Alberta, Canada, the provincial government launched a project to commercialize the plant. With its near-Arctic origins, it thrives at high altitude in cold climates.

My husband and I first learned of rhodiola when we read an article about it in the Sept. 22, 2007 issue of Science News magazine. The supposed benefits sounded almost too good and too numerous to be true: more energy, greater endurance, improved physical performance, quicker recovery from exercise, improved concentration and short-term memory, help for depression, a reduction of stress, and more. In addition, the article said that rhodiola is not addictive and has no known ill effects. It does not result in a "crash" or rebound period of increased fatigue after the good effects wear off.

Do a Google search on "Science News Rhodiola" to read the impressive article. Another article on rhodiola that I read (there are several online) called it the "anti-aging supplement of the 21st century." The American Botanical Council calls rhodiola "the next herbal superstar."

Enthusiastic and long-time consumers of a variety of other supplements, some of which have delivered rather less than what gushing articles about them promised, my husband and I decided to swallow any skepticism and give rhodiola a try. We are now 64 and 61, both physically active and with very demanding work schedules, so David and I are looking for all the help we can get with combating the effects of aging, boosting our energy, and aiding our memories!

Rhodiola is not expensive, and it's not hard to find. Vitamin Cottage, our favorite local health food store, sells NOW brand rhodiola rosea for only $11.55 for 60 capsules, 500 mg per capsule. The recommended dosage is two capsules per day, with food. We each tried one capsule with breakfast, then another with lunch or a light snack in the early afternoon.

The results? In a word: WOW! We have experienced all of the above benefits and more. As a language tutor, writer, translator, proofreader, exercise instructor, and confirmed workaholic, I work at least six days a week, often more than 12 hours a day. For me, the most appreciated benefits of rhodiola have been a definite increase in energy, concentration, and capacity for work. David has reaped the same benefits. At the same time, rhodiola does not result in the jitters or sleep disturbances that too much caffeine can bring. We both find that we are actually falling asleep more quickly at night, sleeping more soundly, and waking up faster and more refreshed. We have much more energy for household tasks and our weight training workouts, and we recover better and faster from hard exercise.

A small amount of dark chocolate every day has also been helping me in a variety of ways. (See my article on the benefits of chocolate in the Nov. 2007 issue of Community News or on my website.) However, it is only since I added the rhodiola that my language students and others have begun commenting on how I now seem more energetic and focused, as well as more consistently cheerful. All this is music to my ears, and proof that these many perceived benefits are not my imagination.

I hope you'll do your own research on this amazing supplement, then give it a try if you like. Feel free to write me about your results at [email protected] Or send a note to Science News magazine.

Virtual Colonoscopy (CT Colonography)

There are few medical exams as dreaded as the colonoscopy. It looks for signs of colon cancer, which currently kills close to 55,000 Americans a year. That's higher than the death rate from either breast cancer or prostate cancer, and second only to lung cancer, most of which is caused by smoking.

Colonoscopies are recommended on a regular basis for anyone over 50, given that most victims of the disease are 50 and older, but fewer than half get tested. Most people don't look forward to gulping laxatives, being sedated, and having a tube snaked through their intestines to look for growths. There is also a small risk of having the bowel punctured in the process.

Now comes word that an X-ray procedure, a virtual colonoscopy, works just as well as the scope method for spotting potentially cancerous growths. In addition, it's quicker and considerably cheaper. This test can help sort out patients who need the full exam and removal of growths. The patient still has to consume those unpleasant laxatives beforehand, but proponents of the new procedure hope that it will help encourage more people to be tested. (Source: Associated Press)