Maral root, also known for its scientific name Rhaponticum carthamoides or simply Rhaponticum, is an herbaceous plant. It is a perennial herb of the Asteraceae plant family that thrives in alpine and subalpine environments.
Rhaponticum carthamoides (Willd.) Iljin grows wildly in places like Siberia where it has long been used as traditional medicine where it is believed to help with increasing sexual vitality, and improving mood and focus. It’s know there as Russian leuzea.
It also has a history of being used in Mongolian and Chinese folk medicine, which says a lot about its status. Its long-standing popularity in traditional Eastern Medicine can be attributed to its safety and lack of side effects.
Maral root got its name from the maral deer. The males would fight brutally and then the loser would go chew on the root of maral to heal from their wounds and restore their energy so they could be better prepared to do battle. The native people watched this and naturally wanted to enjoy the health benefits of maral root themselves. The traditional alternative use of the herbal root got the attention of the Russians behind the Iron Curtain and began researching how it could help their athletes.
Why is Maral Root So Beneficial?
It contains chemical compounds like flavonoids, phenolic acids and terpene essential oil. Extracts of the root have been shown to have anti-disease, antimicrobial, antioxidant, immunomodulatory and even antiparasitic activity.
Let’s take a closer look at the many holistic uses and benefits to see how they go far beyond bodybuilders and athletes.
Benefits of Rhaponticum Carthamoides (Maral Root)
- Adaptogen Herb
- Bodybuilding and Fitness Recovery
- Sexual Vitality
- Mood Stabilizer
- Weight Loss
- Stress Relief
These days, no one is a stranger to stress. It may be caused by something from work, from your studies, from the people surrounding you or even from the environment itself. It has fast become really common today. It’s not necessarily that bad of a thing. Stress disrupts your balance; it pushes you to be more alert and focused so you are better prepared physically and mentally to respond. Stress, in moderation, can actually help get us going. It drives us to do our best despite being under pressure, but we all know that too much of a good thing is bad for you. What’s more widely known though is the bad kind of stress; it’s usually what people are referring to when they mention the word.
Stress affects people in a number of ways. It speeds up your heart rate, increases blood pressure, tenses up your muscles, and weakens your libido, among others. It can be bothersome, to say the least; that is why people do all kinds of things to fight off the bad effects of stress.
Along with energy and vitality, Rhaponticum carthamoides has uses for common health problems like coughs and colds and sore throat. It has also been used by bodybuilders, European athletes and by the Russian military for improving muscle mass and decreasing fatty tissues.
Maral Root is also known to relieve irritability and other nervous disorders, serve as an all-natural mood stabilizer, which makes it a good candidate for lessening mild depression and dealing with generalized stress.
Rhaponticum carthamoides truly has a lot of health benefits although perhaps it is most widely known for its adaptogenic properties.
Weight Loss and Maral Root
In a recent eight week study on six-month old lab rats, Rhaponticum Carthamoides showed marked weight loss activity. They tested the rats using maral root extract versus two other herbal extracts. The results conclusively showed Rhaponticum improved glucose and lipid fat metabolism more than the other two. In fact, it “significantly lowered the weight of epididymal fat” in the rats. Even better? It showed nice results against related conditions of metabolic syndrome like inflammation, stress, and fatty liver.
What I take away from this medical study is that this herb will lower fatty tissue while improving muscle mass. Isn’t that what every athlete and fitness enthusiast is interested in? I think I’ll go add some powder to my tea right now!
Maral Root as an Adaptogen Herb
Rhaponticum carthamoides’s many helpful characteristics make it a very good adaptogen herb. It is known to enhance mental awareness through it’s nootropic and cognitive-enhancing properties, replenish energy levels, relieve fatigue, and regulate blood sugar and blood fat levels.
It is also known to improve heart, brain and metabolic health which are very helpful considering the bad effects of stress. It is also very suitable that Maral root aids with the improvement of mood. After all, when you are feeling a bit more positive it is a lot easier to handle the pressure and changes that stress can bring.
Truly, this root has shown a lot of benefits and potential as an effective adaptogenic herbal remedy, but there is still a lot that we don’t know. Currently, research is still being conducted to find out about its properties and how else it can help. More and better clinical trials and scientific studies are needed.
What Does Maral Root Taste Like?
As far as favor, it’s pretty bland. You’ll note some subtle bitter and sweet notes to the taste but overall it’s not bad so you’ll be able to mix the extract powder into all sorts of things; whether you want to add it as an extra ingredient in a protein shake, morning smoothie or even your coffee or tea.
Rhaponticum Carthamoides Side Effects
There is very little proven scientific information on its side effects and we have to largely rely on traditional medicinal anecdotal evidence. That said, the one sure thing is that pregnant or lactating women should avoid this herb unless its use is recommended by a trusted doctor since there’s so little information available. Some preliminary studies have revealed maral root to be potentially toxic to human embryos.
Additionally, caution should be exercised when taking Rhaponticum Carthamoides for exposure to the sun as uncomfortable skin conditions can then appear. Maral root may affect bleeding and therefore caution must be used by anyone suffering from bleeding disorders or those taking herbs or medications that increase the risk of bleeding. The herb may diminish depression so proceed cautiously when using with antidepressants. Since it stimulates the immune system, avoid use alongside immunosuppressants. Avoid use with known allergies to the Asteraceae plant family.
This video from Lost Empire Herbs is helpful on getting an overview of Leuzea Carthamoidea.