Eccentric exercise can damage unprepared muscles. These injuries are linked with higher levels of oxidative stress, inflammation, and a delayed soreness that is only felt much later.
More studies are showing that muscle damage can also affect the functions of blood vessels a couple of days after the eccentric exercise. Symptoms include problems in microcirculation, higher vascular resistance, and lower vascular reactivity.
Traditional Chinese medicines have a number of herbs to recommend for amending vascular stiffening. Ginseng (Panax ginseng), for instance, contains ginsenosides and other metabolites that protect blood vessels.
Meanwhile, red sage (Salvia miltiorrhiza) can improve blood stasis and circulation. It opens up coronary arteries, improves the flow of blood, and performs antioxidant activities.
In traditional Chinese medicine, these two herbs are often combined to treat multiple conditions at the same time or to increase their effectiveness on a single ailment by attacking it through different vectors. Ginseng and red sage are considered to exhibit great synergy in treating cardiovascular disease. (Related: Cucumbers suppress inflammation in vascular endothelial cells.)
A research team from the National Taiwan University (NTU) examined this ancient remedy regarding its effects on the blood vessels in muscles. They wanted to know if a herbal supplement made from ginseng and red sage could alleviate the vascular stiffness caused by eccentric exercise.
Their experiment involved 24 healthy young males. Half were assigned to a placebo group while the other was placed in the supplement group.
In order to induce vascular stiffness, the participants performed an eccentric exercise. They performed warm-up exercises on a treadmill for five minutes. They then performed a downhill running exercise for 30 minutes straight, using the treadmill to simulate a 10-degree slope.
The researchers took various physiological measurements of the participants at 30 minutes, 90 minutes, 24 hours, 48 hours, and 72 hours. They evaluated muscle soreness, arterial stiffness and vascular reactivity among the participants. They also took blood samples to measure metabolic risk factors like C-protein and inflammatory cytokines.
The supplement group was given herbal supplement capsules, one of which contained 250 milligrams of ginseng and 250 milligrams of red sage. They took one capsule a day for seven days after the eccentric exercise.
The TNU researchers found that muscles significantly grew sorer after a sharp bout of downhill running. The active range of moment declined at the 24- and 48-hour mark, although the placebo group still achieved significant scores here.
Furthermore, the concentration of C-reactive protein in blood plasma was higher in the placebo group than for the herbal remedy group. High levels of plasma CK indicated muscle injury.
While the ginseng-red sage remedy did not amend muscle soreness, it did prevent the increase of arterial stiffness. The herbal supplement also sped up the rate at which a participant recovered his range of motion.
The ability of the ginseng-red sage supplement to reduce the stiffness of veins in injured muscles was not reliant upon changing the blood pressure. Instead, it protected the vascular vessels from getting damaged by the eccentric exercise.
Both herbs have demonstrated antioxidant activities in the past. They reduce oxidative stress and prevent inflammation that would damage cells.
The researchers concluded that a supplement made of ginseng and red sage could effectively alleviate muscle injury inflicted by eccentric exercise.
For more articles about ginseng and red sage's protective effects on the vascular system visit Herbs.news.