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Ginseng or Caffeine?
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Aaron Sorensen
(awsorensen) - MLife

Locale: South of Forester Pass
Ginseng or Caffeine? on 12/04/2006 18:01:33 MST Print View

I have raced for 9 1/2 days averaging less that 3 hours of sleep each night.

During the race I solely used caffeine for my stimulant.
I know you have to use caffeine in moderate doses for prolong use, but I found this to not work so well by night 2 or 3.
The more I used the more help I had staying awake, but the more I took the harder I would crash.
Going back to moderate doses didn't work at all.

This brings up the 2nd alternative, Ginseng.
Anyone know if Ginseng would help out more than the Caffeine and what dosage should be used (max) per hour with out having any major bonking?

Edited by awsorensen on 12/04/2006 18:02:56 MST.

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: Ginseng or Caffeine? on 12/04/2006 19:07:01 MST Print View

i'm not sure that ginseng is a direct replacement for caffeine. one of ginseng's best effects (there are others also) is that it supposedly improves circulation. supposedly it does this via vasodilation.

it is said that it increases the flow of Qi by, IIRC, stimulating the lung meridian and so helps to ward off pulmonary infections. hence, it is commonly consumed during the change of season in the autumn and then again in the spring.

as far as dosage, consult a Chinese Herbalist usually found in the so-called "Chinatown" in many larger cities. in the meantime, use ~1/2oz of the root boiled to make a cup of tea. i've only had 1-2 cups of ginseng tea per day, so i'm not sure of how much more one should consume during the course of a day.

Edited by pj on 12/04/2006 19:15:11 MST.

Stephen Eggleston
(happycamper) - F

Locale: South Bayish
Re: Ginseng or Caffeine? on 12/04/2006 22:23:34 MST Print View

I have no experience with endurance racing, but I am an experienced herbalist.

Ginseng and caffeine are different.
First(excuse me if this sounds uptight~:) caffeine is a component of various herbal and food products. A better comparison would be caffeine and ginsenosides(components of ginseng) or green tea and ginseng.

This brings me to another point: caffeine comes in various forms including isolated extracts and as a part of natural foods and herbs(coffee beans, green tea leaves, cocoa beans, etc.)Choosing the right form of caffeine for your body type can help acheive optimal results. For example one person may get low blood sugar from plain green tea leading to a 'bonk' but the same person might find sustained energy from a black tea chai with milk and sugar. Coffee might suit some people but not others, etc. Combining caffeine containing products with other foods can help bring balance(think about a fire, it always needs some substance to burn otherwise it goes out.)

Also let us not forget herbs with chemicals in the caffeine 'family' such as yerba mate or guarana.

On to ginseng. Ginseng is not a stimulant specifically rather it is a tonic herb. It has adaptogenic qualities meaning that its effects vary depending on ones bodily needs. It can have seemingly opposite effects on different people. I have taken ginseng and been put to sleep, go figure!!

For some people ginseng can overstimulate, especially younger adults and those with high blood pressure. Younger people may like the herb astragalus better. Siberian ginseng is another performance enhancing herb with less potential adverse side effects than ginseng.

For best results consult an herbalist as PJ suggested. You can always experiment with different things though, just watch out for overstimulation(feeling angry, too hot, irritated or like you might burst.)

Doug L
(mothermenke) - F

Locale: Upstate NY
caffeine and bonking on 12/06/2006 09:08:02 MST Print View

Just wanted to comment on the link between caffeine ingestion and performance enhancement. Recent research has strongly suggested that caffeine works as an ergogenic by affecting the central nervous system and not by improving fat catabolism in muscles. Essentially caffeine fools your mind into not feeling pain, exhaustion and perceived effort; not by opening up further energy reserves. So it isn't too surprising that high doses of caffeine cause you to bonk after the first three days of a race. Caffeine is allowing your mind to push your body beyond its normal limits.

It is also worth considering changing to another methylxanthene after the first couple of days. Your nervous system will start creating more adenosine receptors in response to high caffeine doses and this will limit the impact of caffeine. If you switch to something like theophylline or yerba mate you might be able to fool the nervous system with more adenosine receptor antagonists.

Then again it's pretty scary to start pumping massive amounts of strong chemicals into your body, especially when it's already undergoing significant physical stress. Remember that although methylxanthenes have been shown to increase performance and time to exhaustion in tests, they have also been shown to reduce blood flow to the heart during exercise.

Aaron Sorensen
(awsorensen) - MLife

Locale: South of Forester Pass
Re: caffeine and bonking on 12/17/2006 23:50:35 MST Print View

Thank you for the great replies.
I thought the whole idea about ginseng was that it gave you some type of boost that would also keep you awake.

I have never taken as much caffeine to OD on it.
Although my cup of coffee every day has about 5X the does someone should intake in a day.
This is mostly to get through 3 or 4 hours of the night.
I love the idea of switching to another methylxanthene after the first couple of days.
I'll try it out on my next all nighter.

Einstein X
(EinsteinX) - F

Locale: The Netherlands
Re: Re: caffeine and bonking on 12/18/2006 07:59:51 MST Print View

Isn't it a better idea to train your body on sleep deprivation instead of relying on coffee. Although i guess you probably also do that.

This is a thread from about one or two months ago about that guy trying to break the JMT record. There is a link to sth called polyphasic sleep in that thread. Maybe intersting info for you???

Eins