Herbal Primer. Part 3

Ginseng (Asian/Oriental-Panax ginseng, American-Panax quinquefolium, Siberian-Eleutherococcus senticosus). May be useful in combatting lack of energy and inability to concentrate, may stimulate the immune system and may improve athletic performance. Depending on the strength of the preparation, it can affect many bodily symptoms. Can be a potent stimulant. Potential effects: Asian/Oriental and American Ginseng can raise blood pressure. Heart rate/rhythm and thermoregulation may be affected. Also, blood glucose levels may be affected, and there may be interactions with pharmaceuticals used for treating heart conditions (Miller, 1998).

Kava Kava (Piper methysticum). Purported to be a relaxant with anti-anxiety qualities. Potential effects: No known negative effects on general exercise capacity found, but interaction with depressant and psychopharmacological medications could cause gross motor problems. Taking more than therapeutic doses can negatively affect various systems, interfering with adequate sensory/motor response.

Coenzyme Q (Known as CoQ10). May improve bodily oxygen usage. Potential effects: Anecdotal reports of aerobic endurance increase. No known negative effects on general exercise capacity found.

Glucosamine sulfate. May be useful in regenerating cartilage and treating degenerative joint disease. Potential effects: No known negative effects on general exercise capacity found.

Stinging Nettles (Urtica disica). May relieve hay fever symptoms. Potential effects: Because this substance has the characteristics of an antihistamine, blood pressure and heart rate may be affected. However, no information was found to support the possibility of ill effects during exercise.

Until more is known about these substances and their effects during physical activity, exercise professionals should monitor their use among clients and maintain a heightened awareness regarding any negative effects. It might also be helpful to keep records of your observations and share them with others.

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