What is Rhodiola Rosea?
Rhodiola Rosea, also known as rose root or Rhodiola for short, is a fragrant herb native to mountainous regions in Europe and Asia and has over 50 species. It has many colloquial names, such as "golden root" or "arctic root" since the root is used in traditional medicine in countries like Russia and Scandinavia.
It has been cultivated for hundreds of years, most notably by Vikings and in Asian medicine. It reportedly has many health benefits and is known as an "adaptogen," or a plant that has a reputation of aiding in various types of stress. It has similar responses to antioxidants.
Potential Benefits of Rhodiola Rosea
Like many other herbs, many studies have been conducted to support Rhodiola's possible health claims. It may have mental health, emotional and physical benefits helping to support different aspects of health.
Here are a few benefits Rhodiola root contain:
Stress and Stress-Related Symptoms
If you experience constant stress, you might experience symptoms like tiredness and restlessness. Rhodiola may be a potential solution.
A study done on 101 people, who all reported having stress from multiple lifestyle factors, had promising results. Many self-reported significant improvements in their symptoms after only three days of taking a 400 mg supplement.
Work is a significant factor for stress. Many demanding jobs cause burnout and mental fatigue. Taking this supplement may help fight off other stress-related ailments, such as unhappy feelings.
Fatigue is caused by multiple factors such as low-quality sleep and stress. When you are tired, it affects you mentally and physically.
In a study done on 60 participants with reported fatigue caused by stress which in turn affects stress hormones like cortisol, they were given either a placebo or 576 mg of Rhodiola supplement. Over the course of four weeks, the symptoms were monitored and self-reported by each individual.
Overall, the supplement group experienced a positive effect on their fatigue symptoms. These findings were supported by another study done on 100 people with chronic fatigue. These individuals took 400 mg daily for eight weeks. Their self-reported mood, attention, and stress were higher.
Rhodiola is a possible natural supplement for those seeking to support their emotional health. It can help stimulate the nervous system and can increase serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine levels.
In one study, over the course of six weeks, 89 people were monitored for changes in their depression symptoms. There were three groups who took varying doses daily: 340 mg, 680 mg or a placebo pill. The groups who took the extra supplement reported feeling reduced stress while the placebo group showed no improvement.
Additionally, the group that took the 680 mg supplement experienced higher self-esteem.
As an adaptogen and an herb, it may boost your mood and help regulate reactions to stressors that cause negative emotions and similar symptoms.
Physicians, and other demanding professions such as the armed forces, experience mental fatigue and burn out from lack of work-life balance. A study was done on 56 physicians who experienced mental fatigue working night shifts. They were either given a placebo or a 170 mg supplement daily for two weeks.
Compared to their placebo counterparts, the physicians who took the Rhodiola extract reported a 20% improvement in performance and reduced mental tiredness.
Physical Performance and Stamina
Thousands of years ago, Vikings were known to use Rhodiola root to fight off fatigue and boost their physical stamina. You may not be a Viking, but it can still aid in exercise and other physical endeavors, such as running marathons, or intense workouts.
A study done on 24 participants monitored Rhodiola supplement effects during a cycling test. One group was given a placebo while the other group received 200 mg of the herb extract two hours beforehand. The group that took the extract, on average, were able to cycle 24 seconds longer than their placebo counterparts.
Overall, it can help your overall endurance with physical activities and support your overall immune system.
The Promising Future of Rhodiola Rosea Research
Cognitive Performance Boost
The plant may aid in cognitive function, which improves focus and alertness, two factors that affect multiple mental disorders and countless patients.
It may be best used as an adjunctive, or supplemental, treatment to current medication rather than a replacement. Another natural remedy that can amplify Rhodiola and improve mental performance and focus is lemon balm.
Studies done on animal subjects have shown to support metabolic health. Though positive, human subjects are vastly different from mice or rats, but it does encourage further research on its benefits for humans.
If you or someone you know is interested in taking rhodiola, consult with your physician first for safety and proper dosage.
How to Use Rhodiola Rosea
Before purchasing a Rhodiola supplement, it is important to do a bit of research into the wellness or pharmaceutical company. They are typically offered in capsules, tablets, or gummies that make them easy to introduce into your current diet.
It is recommended to take Rhodiola supplements on an empty stomach. Avoid taking it before bed, since you might experience a jolt of energy that will disrupt your sleep. Doses range from 400 mg to 600 mg depending on symptom intensity and variety.
Potential Side Effects and Risks
Overall, the recommended dose for rhodiola is significantly below risk margins concluded by multiple studies.
If you are unsure about taking Rhodiola Rosea supplements, it is reassuring that adverse side effects are uncommon — when they do occur, they are typically mild.
Some people have experienced the following side effects:
- Higher blood pressure
- Chest pain
- Infrequent headaches
- Dry Mouth
- Drug Interactions if you are taking medications
Currently, no studies have researched rhodiola rosea's effects on pregnancy or children. It is not recommended since more research needs to be conducted to focus on these demographics.
It may also interact with certain drugs and medications, such as birth control, anxiolytics, and antidepressants. Make sure to consult your healthcare provider if you take any medications before introducing it to your diet.
Rhodiola has been used by global cultures for hundreds of years. It was leveraged as a physical performance booster and to fight off physical and mental fatigue. Currently, it is offered in supplement form, as either capsules or in gummies to help support calm and a good night's sleep.
Many studies have been conducted over the years, and the results are overwhelmingly supportive of these claims. However, in certain demographics, more research needs to be done.
Meet our Experts
This article has been reviewed by members of our Scientific Advisory Board.
Dr. Jay Cowin, Nutrition Expert
Founder of Functional U, a Nutrition, Performance & Optimal Health practice.