Adam's Corner

Case Files: Leaping*(Soaring)

USES: Creating and sustaining both physical and mental energy. Sleep deprivation, and associated brain fog. Athletic performance (endurance more so than strength training: hiking, running, team sports, or just yard work). Altitude sickness. Chronic lung weakness. Acute stresses to the system. General fatigue.

Roughly 2/3 of Leaping*(Soaring) is an extract of Cordyceps, a rare, high-altitude mushroom which is one of the most prized treasures of Tibetan medicine. Within 30 minutes, Cordyceps begins to increase oxygen uptake from the lungs. With oxygen, every metabolic process runs more smoothly.

I was originally taught how to use Cordyceps by my friend, the herbalist Paul Gorman, on a hike in the Cascade Mountains in 1999. High above the world, I felt the air, gorgeous and green and blue and clear and clean, fill my lungs with energy. No adrenalized jolt, no caffeine buzz, just pure calm energy. (On the way back down, we found a sunlit grove full of Reishi mushrooms. That’s the day I fell in love with herbs).


ANYWAY, I’ve used Cordyceps many times since, and it’s never felt spiritual like that first time. I’ve given it to hundreds of people, and ditto. But it works. Whether it’s a competitive cyclist in time trials, a weekend warrior struggling to keep up with the youngsters, or a student trying to get by on three hours’ sleep, Cordyceps works. It can be used in regular, moderate doses on a daily basis. But I prefer to follow what Paul taught me – use only when needed, but then feel free to use a lot.                       The other ingredients in Leaping*(Soaring) are adaptogens, herbs that help us adapt to stressors. Of course worrying and aggravation are forms of stress, but so is low blood sugar, overtraining, exposure to cold, too much boozing, not enough snoozing, and really anything that's not 100% healthy. In other words, most of your life. All these stressors might feel very different to us, but the physiological consequences are the same: depleted immunity, depleted vitality, muscle drain, brain fog.

Adaptogens work by modulating hyper-reactivity along the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical axis (or, as the Chinese would put it, by nourishing the kidney yin). They don't make us stronger, but they keep stress from making us weaker.  

All adaptogens have a certain character. Leaping*(Soaring) uses Panax ginseng, Rhodiola root, and Schizandra berries. I consider Rhodiola a "white collar adaptogen," ideal for anyone who stresses themselves with too many hours in front of a computer, studying, working late, or otherwise trying to maintain focus after the brain has said “ENOUGH!” It should be no surprise that two of the many clinical trials on Rhodiola involved med students during their finals, and doctors on night call. 

Panax ginseng is a stimulating adaptogen, suited for the cold, lethargic, and exhausted. Shizandra berries (“the five flavor fruit” in TCM) are balancing, nourishing for the adrenals, and protective of the liver.

Supportive practices: Get a good night’s sleep. Use caffeine judiciously, but do not abuse it. Stay hydrated. Eat a minimum 30 grams of protein three times a day. In fatigue that is truly chronic, rule out Lyme disease, adrenal exhaustion, anemia, hypothyroidism, or depression. If low blood pressure is involved, consider ½ tsp twice daily licorice solid extract, plus 2000 mg/day pantothenic acid. For true Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, explore the possibility of RNAse polymorphism with a naturopathic or integrative physician.

… Adam Stark

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