Rhodiola: What Is It?
Rhodiola is a flowering plant from the Crassulaceae family that is commonly grown in the cold, mountainous areas of Europe, Asia, and the Arctic, and often goes by the nickname golden root or Arctic root.1 It has traditionally been used in Chinese medicine to treat anxiety, fatigue, impotence, depression and various infections.1 It has also commonly been used to treat high-altitude sickness, which typically happens when mountain climbing and is caused by a lack of oxygen at high elevations. More recently, research has shown support for many of these benefits of rhodiola, and various rhodiola supplements are now taken to increase energy levels, reduce stress, and improve mood.1 Some users even take rhodiola rosea and together as they believe the herb can stimulate and extend the effects of caffeine in the body.
Rhodiola Benefits and Uses
The top rhodiola benefits and uses include:
- Stress & Anxiety Relief
- Boosts Energy
- Anti-Depressant Qualities
- Relieve Erectile Dysfunction
- Support Immunity
- Aid Weight Loss
- ADHD Support
The rhodiola herb has many health benefits and can be taken to treat a variety of different conditions. Below the Better Health Organization explains the many different rhodiola rosea benefits and rhodiola uses.
Rhodioloa Anxiety Relief
One of the rhodiola health benefits is its ability to reduce stress levels in the body. It has been proven to promote feelings of well-being and improve mental function. In one study, 100 mg of rhodiola extract was given to a group of students during exam period. The study found that by taking rhodiola on a consistent basis, the students experienced an improved mood, along with an increased performance on academic tests.3 Another study found that by regularly taking rhodiola, cortisol response to awakening stress in burnout patients decreased. Cortisol is a hormone that helps the body respond to stress, and elevated levels can cause serious health problems.7
Does rhodiola work to treat anxiety as well? Taking rhodiola for anxiety has also been proven to be helpful. In a scientific study, patients suffering from an anxiety disorder were given a 170 mg dose of a rhodiola rosea extract twice a day for a ten week period. Results found that by consistently taking rhodiola, anxiety levels significantly decreased and mood was improved overall.8
Rhodioloa Energy Booster
Studies have found promising evidence to support that by taking rhodiola, energy levels may increase. In one double-blind study, the effects of rhodiola rosea were examined in relation to students’ mental and physical fatigue during exam period. The results showed that taking 100 mg of rhodiola once a day significantly improved feelings of fatigue and overall well-being, along with increased hand-eye coordination.2
Due to its connection to energy levels, many people wonder about rhodiola and hypothyroidism – a condition that causes an under active thyroid and results in decreased energy levels. Animal studies on rhodiola rosea have shown improvements in thyroid function without causing hyperthyroidism, or an over active thyroid, making this a promising natural alternative to hormonal medications.3
Rhodioloa Depression Improvement
Ayurvedic medicine has many uses for rhodiola, depression included, and its mood enhancing properties have been thoroughly examined in Western medicine. Does rhodiola increase serotonin levels to affect these mood changes? Studies have shown that the effects of dopamine and serotonin can be stimulated in the brain by taking rhodiola. Brain permeability to dopamine and serotonin precursors is also enhanced with rhodiola rosea extract.3 Further, a 12-week study found that taking between 340-1,360 mg of rhodiola rosea daily may significantly improve mood and behavior in those suffering from major depression disorder.4 If choosing between rhodiola and anti-depressants to treat your symptoms, rhodiola may be an effective natural alternative.
Rhodioloa Rosea for ED
Traditional Chinese medicine uses rhodiola rosea for ED and other sexual dysfunction issues, but the efficacy of this treatment is still unknown. However, while scientific research is still ongoing, the anti-stress and mood elevating benefits of rhodiola may be beneficial in helping treat it. Stress is known to be one of the causes of ED, so by taking rhodiola rosea, erection problems could potentially disappear.
Rhodioloa Rosea for Immune System Support
Taking rhodiola may also support a healthy immune system, including fighting off colds and viruses. Scientific evidence has found that rhodiola rosea has strong antiviral qualities that can help delay symptoms and decrease the risk of catching viral infections.5
Rhodioloa for Weight Loss
Rhodiola rosea could support healthy weight loss because it increases energy levels and improves physical endurance during workouts.3 Studies haven’t shown rhodiola to have any affinity for burning fat on its own, but when combined with Citrus aurantium, animal studies showed a 30% decrease in visceral fat weight.9
When taking rhodiola, weight loss may also occur due to its well-known mood enhancing effects. In various rhodiola testimonials, users found that taking a rhodiola rosea supplement helped them lose weight, but also left them feeling happier and more optimistic overall.
Rhodioloa Rosea for ADHD
Rhodiola has been shown to provide therapeutic qualities for those suffering from ADHD due to its anti-anxiety effects, and its ability to combat fatigue and increase energy levels. While no trials have been conducted to examine the efficacy of using rhodiola rosea for ADHD, researchers have suggested that these therapeutic benefits give a rhodiola supplement strong potential as an alternative treatment.6
Rhodiola Side Effects
As with any medicinal herb or plant, rhodiola side effects, drug interactions and allergic reactions are all possible. Overall, rhodiola rosea side effects are mild.
When taking rhodiola, nausea is not uncommon. Rhodiola reviews have also reported periods of upset stomach, insomnia or occasional headaches.
Some people also believe that you can build up a rhodiola tolerance in which your body requires more of this herb to feel its effects over time, however this has not been scientifically proven.
For nursing mothers, research surrounding using rhodiola while breastfeeding is still ongoing, so it is recommended that you speak with your physician before starting any supplementation.
There may be some cause for concern about the interaction between rhodiola rosea and high blood pressure medications. Rhodiola has been reported as exhibiting anti-hypertensive effects, but these effects are currently being more thoroughly investigated.10, 11 If you have a blood pressure issues or other recurring health conditions, speak with a health care professional before using rhodiola.
Rhodiola rosea dosage depends on what form of this herb you are taking, as well as the condition or symptoms you are treating. Most supplements recommend taking one tablet two to three times a day. Rhodiola tea can be purchased or made by chopping up rhodiola root and stepping in water for 4 hours, which can then be enjoyed three to five times a day. Powder can also be added to smoothies or breakfast cereals in 250 mg doses.
Where to Buy Rhodiola
If you are looking to purchase rhodiola rosea, GNC and other health food stores sell a variety of different rhodiola pills. Rhodiola teas are more easily found on Amazon online. Walmart, as well as other large chain stores, sell a variety of capsules and liquid extracts.
Scientific Research Referenced in this Article
- National Centre for Complementary and Integrative Health (2016, September). – View Reference
- Ishaque, S., Shamseer, L., Bukutu, C., & Vohra, S. (2012). Rhodiola rosea for physical and mental fatigue: a systematic review. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 12, 70. http://doi.org/10.1186/1472-6882-12-70
- Brown, R. P., Gerbarg, P. L., & Ramazanov, Z. (2002). Rhodiola rosea. A phytomedicinal overview. HerbalGram, 56, 40-52. Retrieved from – View Reference
- Mao, J. J., Li, Q. S., Soeller, I., Xie, S. X., & Amsterdam, J. D. (2014). Rhodiola rosea therapy for major depressive disorder: a study protocol for a randomized, double-blind, placebo- controlled trial. Journal of Clinical Trials, 4, 170–. http://doi.org/10.4172/2167-0870.1000170
- Ahmed, M., Henson, D. A., Sanderson, M. C., Nieman, D. C., Zubeldia, J. M., & Shanely, R. A. (2015). Rhodiola rosea Exerts Antiviral Activity in Athletes Following a Competitive Marathon Race. Frontiers in Nutrition, 2, 24. http://doi.org/10.3389/fnut.2015.00024
- Ahn, J., Ahn, H. S., Cheong, J. H., & dela Peña, I. (2016). Natural Product-Derived Treatments for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: Safety, Efficacy, and Therapeutic Potential of Combination Therapy. Neural Plasticity, 2016, 1320423. http://doi.org/10.1155/2016/1320423
- Olsson, E. M., von Schéele, B., & Panossian, A. G. (2009). A randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-group study of the standardised extract shr-5 of the roots of Rhodiola rosea in the treatment of subjects with stress-related fatigue. Planta medica, 75(02), 105-112. Retrieved from https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/ca71/423d0c1c0968bc9a31b107d0f747dbb9d3f7.pdf
- Bystritsky, A., Kerwin, L., & Feusner, J. D. (2008). A pilot study of Rhodiola rosea (Rhodax®) for generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 14(2), 175-180. https://doi.org/10.1089/acm.2007.7117
- Verpeut, J. L., Walters, A. L., & Bello, N. T. (2013). Citrus aurantium and Rhodiola rosea in combination reduce visceral white adipose tissue and increase hypothalamic norepinephrine in a rat model of diet-induced obesity. Nutrition research, 33(6), 503-512. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nutres.2013.04.001
- Lee, W. J., Chung, H. H., Cheng, Y. Z., Lin, H. J., & Cheng, J. T. (2013). Rhodiola‐Water Extract Induces β‐endorphin Secretion to Lower Blood Pressure in Spontaneously Hypertensive Rats. Phytotherapy Research, 27(10), 1543-1547. DOI: 10.1002/ptr.4900
- Kosanovic, D., Tian, X., Pak, O., Lai, Y. J., Hsieh, Y. L., Seimetz, M., … & Dahal, B. K. (2013). Rhodiola: an ordinary plant or a promising future therapy for pulmonary hypertension? a brief review. Pulmonary circulation, 3(3), 499-506. Retrieved December 13, 2017 from http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1086/674303