Rhodiola Rosea: Did You Know?
Rhodiola is used for improving physical performance, mental health, cardiovascular protection, memory & clear-thinking, and more. The medicinal compounds of Rhodiola come from the root and rhizome of the plant. These active compounds have been used for years to help treat anxiety, occasional stress, physical and mental fatigue, depressed mood, and so on.
Commonly known as roseroot, orpin rose, Arctic root, Aaron’s rod, orpin rose, golden root, Russian Rhodiola, and king’s crown, Rhodiola Rosea is a perennial flowering herb in the Crassulaceae family or Orpine family. (1)
With pink, red, or yellowish flowers, Rhodiola grows naturally all across the colder northern regions, such as the mountains of central Asia, much of the Arctic, the Rocky Mountains, and the hills of Europe including Pyrenees, Carpathians, and the Alps, as well as in Iceland, Ireland, Great Britain, and Scandinavia.
Rhodiola Rosea has been used in traditional medicine for different disorders, mainly including treating depression and anxiety. The root and rhizome of the plant are used to manufacture the drug. (2)
Overview of Rhodiola Rosea
Rhodiola extract has undergone several extensive clinical, toxicological, and pharmacological testing on animals and humans. The herb has been demonstrated to rival Panax ginseng and Eleuthero in its value as a “kingly” adaptogen. One of the best attributes of Rhodiola is its ability to enhance physical and mental performance.
Experiments conducted on both humans and animals stated that Rhodiola improves immunity, lowers serum lipids, enhances the exercising capacity, modulates the ratio of cGMP and cAMP, and increases superoxide activity dismutase. Russian cosmonauts and athletes have extensively used it to enhance endurance and energy. (4, 5)
Rhodiola extracts can boost the mental functions and nervous system, such as memory, by improving the brain and muscle’s blood supply. It also enhances protein synthesis in cells, an anabolic effect.
Key Constituents in Rhodiola Rosea
The biologically active substances in Rhodiola include rosin, salidroside, rosarin, tyrosol, and rosavin, which produce the plant’s main therapeutic effects and are mainly available in its rhizomes. These compounds affect the central nervous system by improving concentration and boosting both physical and mental power. (5)
Other active compounds in Rhodiola Rosea involve monoterpenes (rosaridin and rosiridol), flavonoids (rhodionin, rhodiolin, rodiosin, tricin, and acetylrodalgin), phenolic acids (gallic, hydroxycinnamic, and chlorogenic), and triterpenes (beta-sitosterol and daucosterol). It also includes minerals, vitamins, trace elements, and amino acids. (6)
Traditional Use of Rhodiola Rosea
Though Rhodiola Rosea has no biological relation to the common rose, it has been used as an alternative for attar of rose or rose oil due to its aroma. Years back, in Russia’s mountain regions, a bouquet of Siberian Rhodiola roots was given to couples before their wedding as a symbol of good health and increased fertility. (6)
In central Asia, Rhodiola Rosea was the most effective remedy for preventing and treating flu and cold. Mongolian health professionals used to prescribe it for cancer and tuberculosis. Whereas, Siberian people marketed Rhodiola for fruit, wine, honey, and garlic.
Previously, people in northern areas have used Rhodiola Rosea for fatigue, anxiety, infections, headache, anemia, depression, and impotence related to stress. They also have used it to increase longevity, work performance, physical endurance, and enhance high-altitude sickness resistance.
Modern Use of Rhodiola Rosea
In recent times, people use Rhodiola as a dietary supplement to:
- Boost energy, strength, and stamina (4, 5)
- Increase the ability to cope with stress (7)
- Protect the heart system from arrhythmias and stress (7)
- Improve memory and learning capacity (6)
- Provides sexual enhancement (6)
- Balances the endocrine and nervous systems (6)
- Assists in weight loss (6)
- Lowers psychic anxiety and fatigue (6)
- Prevents ischemic brain damage and lung damage (6)
- Lowers the chances of lung damage in pulmonary hypertension (6)
- Offer resistance to altitude sickness – improves breathing and sleep linked to altitude (6)
Rhodiola Rosea has profound antioxidant activities; it improves the efficiency of oxygen utilization and intracellular oxygen diffusion and lowers oxidative damage.
Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Rhodiola Rosea
Rhodiola has been categorized as an adaptogen by some researchers, meaning that it can help make you less prone to physical and emotional stress. Limited studies have demonstrated that this medicine may stimulate norepinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin activity. However, more research is required to confirm the efficiency of Rhodiola supplements.
The evidence of health claims of the herb varies depending on manufacturer and dosage. The health advantages of Rhodiola are probably associated with the anti-inflammatory properties it may have. Here are some of its top benefits:
1) Lowers Stress
The best claim about Rhodiola is its potential as a substance that can help the body adapt to stress. Its specific qualities and abilities, however, have not yet been scientifically stated with well-thought-out studies. (8, 9)
A study published in Alternative Medicine Review stated that Rhodiola represents promise as an adaptogen. Depending on evidence from different studies, the plant extracts offer benefits for heart function and mental health. (10)
One more 2005 article depicted Rhodiola as a “versatile adaptogen.” This herb can enhance stress resistance. It can particularly hold promise as a possible treatment for lowering stress-induced heart issues and stress hormone levels. (11)
2) Reduces Signs of Depression
A study suggested that Rhodiola may lower signs of GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder). The test was performed on ten people who consumed 340 mg of Rhodiola extract for ten weeks. (12)
In 2015, one more study in Phytomedicine found that Rhodiola decreased signs of depressions, but its effects were relatively mild. This herb didn’t lower depression symptoms as efficiently as sertraline.
The author of this 2015 research concluded that Rhodiola might be ideal as a treatment for mild to moderate depression. The study involved 57 people who consumed Rhodiola Rosea for 12 weeks. (13)
3) Enhances Physical & Mental Performance
Some people consume Rhodiola before exercise to improve physical performance or as a method to boost thinking and concentration. There are also claims that it can help in lowering physical as well as mental fatigue. Here are some studies which are based on these claims:
A 2009 review stated that women who took Rhodiola were able to run faster than those who consumed a placebo. (14)
A study on Rhodiola stated that it might hold promise as an aid for improved physical and mental performance. The authors of the experiment concluded that more research is required to study further and prove its effects. (15, 16)
4) Can Control Diabetes
People with diabetes generally use insulin injections and medications that improve insulin sensitivity to regulate their blood sugar levels. Interestingly, animal research indicates Rhodiola Rosea can help in controlling diabetes.
Rhodiola has been proven to lower blood sugar in rats with diabetes by increasing glucose transporters in the blood. These glucose transporters reduce blood sugar by transferring glucose into the blood cells. (17, 18)
The study is conducted on mice, which means the results obtained from this study can not be generalized to human beings. This is a compelling reason to examine the effects of Rhodiola on blood sugar in humans.
If you’ve diabetes and want to take Rhodiola supplements, ensure to consult with your physician or dietitian first.
5) May Consist Anticancer Properties
A substantial component of Rhodiola, i.e., Salidroside, has been examined for its anticancer properties. Several test-tube studies performed on Rhodiola stated that it inhibits the growth of colon, breast, bladder, and liver cancer cells. (19, 20, 21, 22)
Consequently, researchers have indicated that Rhodiola Rosea may help treat different types of cancer. However, until more detailed research on humans is conducted – whether or not Rhodiola can help treat cancer will remain unknown.
6) Prevents Burnout
The WHO (World Health Organization) has categorized burnout as a disease. A clinical study represents that Rhodiola Rosea can boost all significant symptoms of burnout within a week. This clinical trial was performed by Australian researchers on patients (between the age of 30 to 60) who were suffering from burnout signs. (23)
During the test, people were given 200 mg of Rhodiola extract twice a day for three months. The analysis revealed significant decreases in the symptoms of burnout over the course.
Dosage and Preparation for Rhodiola Rosea
Russian Rhodiola is one of the adaptogenic herbs in two formula, such as:
- For building stress protection and core energy
- A general nourishing adaptogenic tonic
It is never recommended to consume Rhodiola as a single herb because of its highly drying and astringent nature. The best way is to take it along with other adaptogens in a range of 10-20% of the overall.
Wild Russian 1:1 fluid extract is the suggested form. You can consume 2 to 5 ml every day as part of an adaptogenic dose that contains other adaptogens. (6)
If consumed within the mentioned dosage amount, Rhodiola has no toxicity or side effects. The herb is widely used as part of an adaptogenic formulation due to its properties. Also, the root extracts of this herb do not need high doses to generate a therapeutic effect.
The suggested adult dosage for capsules of Rhodiola ranges from 100 mg to 300 mg per day. There’s not enough medical or scientific research to indicate the use of Rhodiola in kids.
No matter which product (made of Rhodiola Rosea) you’re purchasing, you must read the item’s label to know about the proper dosage.
Moreover, it is best to consult a physician before intaking Rhodiola root extracts to avoid side-effects and experience great results on your health.
Rhodiola root extracts have a long tradition of helping enhance concentration, endurance, stamina, and mental well-being. Though valid, extensive research on these health effects is lacking, the low risk of side-effects of this herb makes it an ideal choice among people who want to improve their health in the areas mentioned above.
Overall, as with any dietary supplement, visiting a physician before taking Rhodiola and getting personalized recommendations is recommended.
1. Clinical Overview of Rhodiola - https://www.drugs.com/npp/rhodiola-rosea.html
2. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health - https://nccih.nih.gov/health/rhodiola
3. US Food and Drug Administration Warning Letter - https://www.fda.gov/inspections-compliance-enforcement-and-criminal-investigations/warning-letters/natures-health-llc-473487-12022015
4. Adaptogens in Medicinal Herbalism, Donald Yance, CN, MH, RH(AHG)
5. Saratikov and Krasnov “Stimulative properties of Rhodiola Rosea”; Darbinyan, Kteyan, Panossian, et al., “Rhodiola Rosea in stress-induced fatigue”; Kucinskaite, Briedis, and Savickas, “Experimental analysis of therapeutic properties of Rhodiola Rosea”; and K. De Bock, B. O. Eijnde, M. Ramaekers, and P. Hespel, “Acute Rhodiola Rosea intake can improve endurance exercise performance,” International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism.
6. Adaptogens in Medical Herbalism - https://books.google.co.in/books?id=PF8oDwAAQBAJ&pg=PT693&lpg=PT693&dq=Rhodiola+also+contains+amino+acids,+vitamins,+minerals,+and+trace+elements&source=bl&ots=qoL1vYmDvS&sig=ACfU3U2AbRNV8qwQ2aflG5BTvuJnYQ5fbg&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjho_Dh-ZHoAhW6I7cAHaJABaMQ6AEwBHoECAoQAQ#v=onepage&q&f=false
7. Maslova, Kondrat’ev, Maslov, and Lishmanov, “The cardioprotective and antiadrenergic activity.”
8. The Effects of Rhodiola Rosea L. Extract on Anxiety, Stress, Cognition and Other Mood Symptoms - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26502953
9. Stress management and the role of Rhodiola Rosea: a review - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29325481
10. Rhodiola Rosea: A Possible Plant Adaptogen - http://www.altmedrev.com/archive/publications/6/3/293.pdf
11. Rhodiola as a Versatile Adaptogen - https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1111/j.1541-4337.2005.tb00073.x
12. A Pilot Study of Rhodiola Rosea for Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) - https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/acm.2007.7117
13. Rhodiola versus Sertraline for Major Depressive Disorder: A Randomized Placebo-Controlled Trial - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4385215/
14. The effects of an acute dose of Rhodiola Rosea on exercise performance and cognitive function - https://jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1550-2783-6-S1-P14
15. The effectiveness and efficacy of Rhodiola Rosea L.: a systematic review of randomized clinical trials - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21036578
16. Rhodiola Rosea for physical and mental fatigue: a systematic review - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3541197
17. Antihyperglycemic action of Rhodiola-aqueous extract in type1-like diabetic rats - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3897963/
18. The GLUT4 Glucose Transporter - https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1550413107000678
19. Rhodiola Rosea extracts and salidroside decrease the growth of bladder cancer cell lines via inhibition of the mTOR pathway and induction of autophagy - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21520297
20. Salidroside induces apoptosis and autophagy in human colorectal cancer cells through inhibition of PI3K/Akt/mTOR pathway - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27748934
21. Rhodiola crenulata induces death and inhibits the growth of breast cancer cell lines - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18800886
22. Effects of over-expression of ANXA10 gene on proliferation and apoptosis of hepatocellular carcinoma cell line HepG2 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23073794
23. Rhodiola Can Relieve Burnout as per Life Extension Magazine- https://www.lifeextension.com/magazine/2019/10/rhodiola-combats-burnout
24. Rhodiola Rosea Therapy for Major Depressive Disorder: A Study Protocol for a Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial - https://www.longdom.org/open-access/rhodiola-rosea-therapy-for-major-depressive-disorder-a-study-protocol-for-a-randomized-doubleblind-placebo-controlled-trial-2167-0870.1000170.pdf