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A Journal on Sports Medicine

Official Journal of the Italian Sports Medicine Federation
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Medicina dello Sport 2009 June;62(2):149-55

language: English, Italian

Effect of Rhodiola Rosea on endurance exercise performance: a pilot study

Parisi A., Ciminelli E., Cerulli C., Quaranta F., Tranchita E.

Sports Medicine Laboratory, Unit of Internal Medicine, Department of Health Sciences, Motor Sciences Faculty, University of Rome “Foro Italico”, Rome, Italy


Aim. The aim of the study was to investigate the effects of chronic Rhodiola Rosea (RR) intake on physical performance of a group of competitive athletes and verify if this supplementation can influence the following parameters: heart rate (HR), time of exhaustion and perception of fatigue.
Methods. Thirty-four well-trained male athletes, aged between 20 and 30 years, were enrolled for the study and randomized into two groups (A and B). All subjects were submitted to evaluation of V.O2max using a standardized protocol with gas exchange measured. Group A underwent a chronic supplementation with RR for four weeks, while group B took an equal amount of placebo. At the end of the supplementation period, both groups underwent a cardio-pulmonary exhaustion test at 75% of their V.O2max, the athletes were successively submitted to a period of wash-out for 14 days. After this period, group B underwent a chronic supplementation with RR, while group A was administered a placebo. At the end of this step, all the subjects repeated the performance exhaustion test on cyclo-ergometer, according to the same protocol.
Results. The preliminary results of this study show maximum HR is essentially the same after placebo and after RR administration; the Borg Scale shows the same level both after RR and placebo intake (mild/hard effort) considering that after RR intake, greater efforts was reached; the difference between maximal oxygen uptake (V.O2max) after placebo and after RR is not statistically significant; the difference between the time of exhaustion of the test after placebo intake and after RR is statistically significant instead.
Conclusion. This preliminary study seems to show a positive effect of RR on performance in endurance activity. Nevertheless, further investigations are needed to confirm these proprieties.

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