Rhodiola Rosea

Background

Rhodiola rosea, also known as arctic root or golden root or rose root, is an adaptogenic herb that has wonderful fat-burning, energy-increasing, and brain-improving power. It has been a part of traditional medicine systems in parts of Europe, Asia and Russia for centuries. Rhodiola rosea has been used for cancer and tuberculosis, given to newlyweds to increase fertility, used to increase endurance and physical strength, and also used as food as well as hair wash.  More recently Rhodiola rosea has received much attention from the scientific community for its potential therapeutic capacity as an adaptogen and has efficacy for improving physical and mental performance.  Rhodiola rosea can improve cognitive functioning in people who experience a reduction in fatigue.[1][2]
An interesting matter is that Rhodiola rosea supplement is still widely used in different areas for different reasons such as it is used in Russia as a tonic and remedy for fatigue, poor attention span, and decreased memory; it is also believed to make workers more productive. In Sweden and other Scandinavian countries it is used to increase the capacity for mental work and to boost general strength and vitality, etc.[3]

Benefits

Rhodiola rosea is an herb in the rhodiola genera (Crassulaceae family) which has traditional usage for its anti-fatigue effect and as an adaptogen compound, and rhodiola is maybe the second most popular adaptogen (second only to panax ginseng). Primary evidence has said about neuroprotection, among other possible benefits of Rhodiola rosea.
As a nootropic and an adaptogen (a natural substance thought to help the body cope with mental, physical and environmental stress) Rhodiola Rosea benefits are said to include improved mood, athletic performance, weight loss, cognitive function and many more.
The common health benefits of Rhodiola Rosea include:

  • Improves cognitive function [4]
  • Reduces physical and mental fatigue [5]
  • Increases energy [6]
  • Improves athletic performance [7][8]
  • Helps lower cortisol [9]
  • Can help fight depression [10]
  • Improves brain function [11]
  • May decrease anxiety and stress [12]
  • May help control diabetes [13]
  • May have anticancer properties [14]
  • Improves learning and memory [15]
  • Acts as an antioxidant [16]
  • Improves immune function [17]
  • Helps with cardiac disorders [18]

With regard to fatigue, rhodiola rosea seems to be able to significantly reduce the effects of prolonged and minor physical exhaustion that results in fatigue. This is more related to stress and the ‘burnout’ effect, or prolonged but low intensity physical exercise. Rhodiola rosea appears to be highly reliable in reducing fatigue symptoms and improving symptoms of stress (and secondary to that, well-being) in people fatigued from non-exercise related stressors.

How it works

Rhodiola rosea is a popular plant in traditional medical systems and has been used to stimulate the nervous system, decrease depression, enhance work performance, and prevent high altitude sickness. The bioactive constituents of Rhodiola rosea remain unclear, but two constituents of the plant called rosavins and salidrosides that have the ability to help balance the stress hormone, cortisol are believed to play the largest therapeutic role. Rhodiola rosea boosts brain health and function in several ways.[19]
The studies found that Rhodiola rosea ingestion can improve cognitive function, reduce mental fatigue, promote free radical mitigation, have antioxidative and neuroprotective effects, increase endurance performance, and enhance learning and memory. Rhodiola rosea may play a role in the amelioration of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease (AD), via its anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective properties.[19]
Disruption or attenuation of peripheral organ function is linked to an increased risk for chronic inflammatory disease. In the study, Rhodiola rosea extract significantly decreases iNOS and proinflammatory cytokines responses in not only kidney but also prefrontal cortex of brain. These results suggest that Rhodiola rosea constituents can be delivered to the brain and suppress the inflammation in the CNS. Rhodiola rosea has the neuroprotective effects against L-glu-induced neurotoxicity in cortical neuronal cells. [19]

Considerations

Rhodiola rosea is generally safe and well tolerated when taken appropriately for short-term and twice daily doses of this supplement extract have been used safely for 6-10 weeks. But the safety of long-term use is not known. Rhodiola rosea might cause dizziness, dry mouth, headache, difficulty sleeping,or excessive saliva production.
If you are pregnant or breast-feeding, avoid using this supplement. You are advised to speak to your doctor or naturopath before taking this supplement. Rhodiola rosea may interact with the medications of autoimmune diseases, diabetes, or high blood pressure.

Recommendations

The appropriate dose of Rhodiola rosea depends on several factors such as the user’s age, health, and several other conditions. Doses used are commonly 200 to 600 mg per day. For improving symptoms of stress, fatigue or depression, you can take 400 – 600 mg in a single dose per day for up to 12 weeks.
If you’re interested in enhancing performance with Rhodiola rosea, you can take 200 – 300 mg an hour or two before exercise. Remember, it’s best to take Rhodiola rosea on an empty stomach, but not before bedtime, as it has a slight stimulatory effect.
It is recommended that consult your physician or healthcare provider to start any new supplement.

Sources