We tout Golden Chai as a recovery tonic, but what does that mean? Let’s dive into what makes our recovery tonic, well… a recovery tonic.
After a long run, session at the gym, or any rigorous exercise, our bodies need time to recover and adapt and our muscles need time to repair. Beyond proper nutrition, hydration, and sleep, there are several key factors that the right herbs can help with when it comes to recovery. Here’s why Golden Chai is my go-to drink after a workout.
Getting blood to the muscles is paramount for muscle recovery from exercise. Improving blood flow accomplishes two main objectives—it supplies the muscles with oxygenated blood and helps carry away waste. This speeds up recovery and lessens soreness.
Lucky for us, many warming (and delicious) spices are excellent circulatory stimulants—the ginger and cinnamon in Golden Chai are our main herbs for this action. In addition to improving blood flow, ginger and cinnamon also support a healthy response to inflammation associated with exercise. A 2010 study (Black et al.) showed that using just two grams of ginger, daily supplementation significantly reduced muscle pain and soreness associated with exercise.
Inflammation is a natural response to the stress we’re putting on our muscles and is closely tied to blood flow as it brings more blood and waste-scavenging ability to the areas that are under the most load. While that’s a good thing, balance is key and we need rest and recovery time after intense exercise to allow our inflammation levels to drop back to normal. Herbs such as the turmeric and boswellia in our Golden Chai support a healthy response to exercise-induced inflammation and therefore accelerate recovery while making it more efficient.
A systemic review published in 2020 (Fernández-Lázaro et al.) examined how curcumin—the main active constituent of turmeric—modulates exercise-induced muscle damage and inflammation. The paper concludes that supplementation with curcumin reduces muscle damage, increases performance, and has a post-exercise downward influence on inflammation.
Sustained and intense exercise is associated with excessive production of free radicals called reactive oxygen species (ROS). This excess can lead to oxidative stress. At high levels, ROS can negatively impact many levels of our physiology including exercise performance and muscle damage. Antioxidants are compounds obtained through our diet which neutralize ROS and help alleviate oxidative stress. Many studies have demonstrated the antioxidant activity of the curcumin found in turmeric, as well boswellia. One fascinating study from 2014 (Takahashi et al.) took blood samples before and after participants exercised. They found that the participants who consumed curcumin had significantly lower derivatives of ROS in their bloodstream as well as much higher levels of antioxidant potential, demonstrating that curcumin supplementation may be an excellent way to mitigate the oxidative stress resulting from intense exercise.
We’ve talked a lot about muscles so far, but what about joints? It’s not uncommon for athletes to experience occasional joint pain as joints are in continual use during most workouts, whether it’s 10 miles of pounding the pavement or an hour of pumping iron. Protecting and enhancing joint health should be a priority for all of us who exercise for pleasure or performance! The boswellia extract in Golden Chai is the herb par-excellence for joint health and joint mobility, through the herb’s action on inflammation and very specific mechanisms like inhibiting the enzymes that break down connective tissues and collagen (Roy et al., 2006).
The power of these herbs is amazing! But if you’ve tried other products with these herbs without luck, it may be because of dosing. Dosing matters, and was essential when formulating Golden Chai (as well as all of our other blends) to ensure you experience the full magic of these herbs. At Rasa, we don’t believe in fairy dusting— the practice of sprinkling in an herb just to be able to talk about it. Instead, we formulate using functional doses of herbs that will get the job done.
As a result of this ethos, our recovery tonic is both highly functional—with potent doses of supremely bioavailable turmeric* and boswellia extracts—while capturing the magic of India’s well-loved masala chai, with biting ginger, sweet cinnamon, and tingling cardamom. As you enjoy your cuppa of Golden Chai, you know it’s supporting you and your wellbeing, too.
*Did you know that the curcuminoids in turmeric aren’t water-soluble? So if you’re drinking a typical teabag of turmeric tea, it’s highly unlikely it’s providing you with the medicinal benefits you may be seeking. That’s why we use an extracted version of turmeric that allows you to soak up and enjoy all of its benefits. The more you know!
Photos by @slightlypitted + @its_jimmy provided by endurance athlete, chef, and our friend Lentine Alexis.
Black, C. D., Herring, M. P., Hurley, D. J., & O'Connor, P. J. (2010). Ginger (Zingiber officinale) reduces muscle pain caused by eccentric exercise. *The journal of pain*, *11*(9), 894-903.
Fernández-Lázaro, D., Mielgo-Ayuso, J., Seco Calvo, J., Córdova Martínez, A., Caballero García, A., & Fernandez-Lazaro, C. I. (2020). Modulation of exercise-induced muscle damage, inflammation, and oxidative markers by curcumin supplementation in a physically active population: a systematic review. *Nutrients*, *12*(2), 501.
Roy, S., Khanna, S., Krishnaraju, A. V., Subbaraju, G. V., Yasmin, T., Bagchi, D., & Sen, C. K. (2006). Regulation of vascular responses to inflammation: inducible matrix metalloproteinase-3 expression in human microvascular endothelial cells is sensitive to antinflammatory Boswellia. *Antioxidants & redox signaling*, *8*(3-4), 653-660.
Takahashi, M., Suzuki, K., Kim, H. K., Otsuka, Y., Imaizumi, A., Miyashita, M., & Sakamoto, S. (2014). Effects of curcumin supplementation on exercise-induced oxidative stress in humans. *International journal of sports medicine*, *35*(06), 469-475.