Editors Note: English is not author's first language.
A lot of people use dietary supplements or various medicines without knowing many of them are made from average herbs in nature. A lot of herbs are useful not only for healing various diseases, but also in bodybuilding and fitness, both in the bulking phase as well as in the cutting phase.
The first time I was attracted to herbs was during a school assignment about forbidden drugs in sport. In the chapter about the history of drug use in sports there was a short segment about herbal drugs used in ancient Greece and Rome.
Of course we cannot compare those athletes to modern ones, but the athletes of that era were still much better than the average people of today. They used a lot of herbal extracts and drugs in their preparation.
A lot of knowledge was lost during the middle ages. Using herbs was connected with black magic and a lot of people were burned for witchcraft during those times. Unfortunately most of the recipes were spread by a spoken word and no written records were kept. Various recipes were lost with the minds of these people.
I will not show how the herbs work - I am not a biochemist and what I know, I know from old books, from old recipes, from my great-grandma. I use some herbs regularly and I have great results with them - so I want to share the knowledge with you.
In the bulking phase the main use of herbs is to support digestion and to help with quicker regeneration after a heavy workout. I am sorry, but there are no herbal anabolics strong enough for a miracle. As far as herbal anabolics go, the most used herb is Tribulus Terrestris - which is commonly used as a dietary supplement.
View Tribulus Products Sorted By Top Sellers Here.
Anabolic effects can also be found in isophlavonides (ipriflavon), but they must be used in large doses and are relatively expensive. I would like to show you some small inconspicuous herbs, common in nature. You could harvest these yourself or buy them in the store.
From the "home" herbs you could make tea from blossoms, leafs or roots. For digestion support the best is sagebrush (wormwood). Its leaves, blossoms and the whole top of the herb is used as a tea. Beause it is a little bit agressive for the insides, this tea is used only 3 times a day; a small amount of the liquid (about 1 dcl).
This is better taken with food. Some people who may be sensitive to it could have digestive problems with it. After a meal it helps with the feeling of overeating and supports digestive activity. You can harvest this herb from May till September. The upper part is dryed in thin layers at less than 35 degrees celsius, with good air-conditioning.
Nettle is another herb for good digestion and a mild diuretic. This herb is fine to use in small amounts during the day, though it is better to use it with a meal. You should use fresh herbs in spring for salads or meat fillings. Just pour boiling water over the fresh herb and use it like spinach (young fresh herbs are used this way).
Mainly harvest the leaves or the upper part without blossoms. Harvest is from April till August. Dry it at less than 60 degrees celsius, very quickly. The color must stay dark green.
Klamath weed (common St. John's wort) is really a queen of herbs. It helps protect against muscle fever, tiredness, digestive problems and problems with sleeping. When you used as a sleep aid use a slightly stronger tea from the leaves and upper part of the herb. Add one teaspoon of sugar and drink it about 30 minutes before going to bed.
When you have a muscle fever it is possible to drink about 2 cups of weaker tea in the evening. For better digestion drink it through the whole day. You should drink it like a normal tea.
Harvest time for Klamath weed is from June till August. Drying is under 35 degrees celsius hanging in the free room good air-conditioning. The real klamath weed is spilling red juice from the yellow bloosoms. Thats why some nations called it "holly blood."
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Wild Chamomile is a classic. In sports it helps as am inflamation prevention. We should use it as tincture when we have some smaller wounds or use blossoms as tea. Blossoms should be havested from May till August. Drying under 35 degrees celsius in very thin layer at the strainer.
| What Is A Tincture?
A Tincture is a coloring or dyeing substance.
Mint helps as a tonic or with digestion. Mint as a great taste and can be very helpful in providing a fresh breath. The best way to take mint is to drink it in a cold tea during the day along with chamomille. Harvest is during the whole year after the first blossoms. Drying should be done at 35 degrees celsius with the leaves seperated.
Harvesting for Lady's Mantle is in the Summer from the end of May. Drying should be done at common room temperature. It should not lose its color or smell. Lady's Mantle is a multifunctional herb. During a bulking phase it is helpful in dealing with overtraining. If you have overtrained use 1-2 cups of tea with the herb. Put about one handfull of this herb into the cup, pour hot water over it and let it sit for about 10 minutes.
When you are in a cutting phase it helps to sustain energy. The daily amount is higher - about 2-3 cups of a stronger tea from the leaves and upper part of the herb.
For your information:
Even when you use "only" herbs, more is not necessarily better! When you use one herb (except the tea mixtures already bought in some herbal store) - use it the whole day and don't mix it with another one.
For example, when overtraining you should use lady's mantle during the day and klamath weed in the evening, but klamath weed must not be used together with wormwood. It is best not to combine wormwood with anything.
Also it is important to know if a person is allergic to a certain herb (or herbs in general). For example: wormwood is a very strong herb, but also a very strong allergen.
In a bulking phase you should also use massage tinctures made from herbs. The best one is tincture made from wild thyme. Thyme is usually law protected and so is better to go to some specialized shop and buy the herb or tincture.
Here are some other herbs which could help in the cutting phase pre-competition. Some of them increase metabolism. I excluded the strongest one, an herb known as ephedra vulgaris or ma huang, because their alkaloids are forbidden in sport. Use of the chinese kind of wolf's-milk-ephedra was usual in ancient China by their soldiers as a prevention of weariness.
From exotic herbs added into some supplements I should name Gugul herb - and its alkaloid gugulipides. They activate the thyroid gland. I have tried it twice. The first time it was fine and I could say I really felt it, but the second time it was only very mild.
But this article is about common herbs we can easily find.
I like some teas in the cutting phase - yerba mate or redbush tea (rooibos tea). In my country yerba or redbush tea can be bought in the store with exotic teas as teabags.
Yerba is very a strong herb, helpful in increasing metabolism. The fact is, that for some Europeans Yerba and redbush (rooibos) tea is used as a laxative. But in a cutting phase both these herbs are my #1. Mint is also a great choice but it increases appetite.
- Ginger root
- Clove (rose-apple)
- redbush tea
- 1/2 of the cinnamon bark
- 5 aniseeds
- 1-2 fennel seeds
- 1 slice of ginger root
- 3 cloves
I have a secret tea recipe I would like to share with you. Helpful spices to use in your tea are:
Cinnamon is also a well known stimulating herb and you should use it not only in the macerate, but also as a spice - not only on sweet food, but also with salt for example on chicken. You could add it into tea, coffee, yogurt or cottage cheese. 3 or 4 teaspoons is enough for 1 day.
Fennel and aniseed help with digestion and stops flatulance. It also helps to build a stomach that is flat and tight. Ginger help to increase the metabolism.
In a pre-competition phase, my recipe for a macerate using:
This will make 2 dcl (1 cup) of tea. I pour boiled water over all these spices and let it sit for 12 - 15 minutes. This drink is a very strong refreshener.
| What Is A Macerate?
A substance prepared or produced by soaking or steeping in a liquid.
Some herbs could be used as natural diuretics as well. The strongest ones are the bark from the birch tree, and dogberry herb. Erica and Equisetum arvense are also natural diuretics. They can be bought as diuretic teas in a drugstore without a prescription - but be careful, because Equisetum arvense also helps to thin down the blood and may cause bleeding.
The upper part is dried at 40 degrees celsius, to not to lose the color. Harvest is from May till August. As diuretics we can drink about 2 handfuls of the dried herb overflowed by 2 dcl of hot water (not boiling). Drink 4-5 cups a day.
There are also herbs useful in liver recovery. Silybum marianum is one of the best ones. Its seeds should be chewed or boiled and macerated. In many stores today you can buy the teabags. During the first days of recovery, drink 3 to 4 cups a day. Later, 1 or 2 cups is enough.
A great liver protector is Agrimonia eupatoria. It is a common herb. Harvest for the blossom is from June till August, and from May till June for the upper part. It should be dried very slowly in temperatures below 35 degrees celsius.
A great herb for immunity is Echinacea purpurea. You can buy it in a drug store as tincture or candies.
View Echinacea Products Sorted By Top Sellers Here.
This is the main info on herbs I could get. Of course there are a lot of other herbs which could help in sports. And remember, that nature is always powerful.
WARNING: The author of this article is not responsible for damages caused by the wrong use or recognition of the herbs mentioned. Please if you are not sure ask your local drug store or herbal store about using and only buy guaranteed products. Ask your doctor first to find out if you are allergic before using herbs.