Rhodiola rosea (R. rosea), also known as “golden root,” is an adaptogenic herb with tremendous fat-burning, energy-enhancing and brain-boosting power. Adaptogens including rhodiola are a group of plants that can help your body adapt to physical, chemical, and environmental stress.
Supporting research & information
Rhodiola is used for many conditions, but so far, there isn't enough scientific evidence to determine whether it is effective for any of them.
Rhodiola is most commonly used for increasing energy, endurance, strength, and mental capacity. It is also used as a so-called "adaptogen" to help the body adapt to and resist physical, chemical, and environmental stress.
Rhodiola is native to the arctic regions of Europe, Asia, and Alaska. It has a long history of use as a medicinal plant in Iceland, Sweden, France, Russia, and Greece. It is mentioned by the Greek physician Dioscorides as early as the first century AD.
Rhodiola has been proven to have at least four major health benefits. The top rhodiola uses include:
- Helping to lower the “stress hormone,” cortisol
- Fighting depression and improving brain function
- Supporting weight loss and helping to burn visceral/belly fat
- Increasing energy and athletic performance, while reducing mental and physical fatigue
The Rhodiola species is composed of mainly Rhodiola Rosea along with Rhodiola imbricata, Rhodiola algida, and Rhodiola crenulata. Generally, these herbs are known for their adaptogenic (anti-stress) properties.
However, they also possess numerous other cognitive and physical benefits that are integral to medicine in parts of Eastern Asia. Extracts from these herbs are widely used in various health applications.
Rhodiola Rosea Has Antidepressant Properties
Rhodiola Rosea demonstrates multi-target effects on various levels of the regulation of cell response to stress, affecting various components of the neuroendocrine (NPY), neurotransmitter receptor and molecular networks associated with possible beneficial effects on mood. Rhodioloside decreased pro-inflammatory cytokines IL-1b and IL-6 levels and normalized neurotransmitters in the prefrontal cortex (PFC) of rats. These results confirmed the antidepressant-like effect of rhodioloside, which might be primarily based on its stimulation of neurotransmitters and its anti-inflammatory effect.
Rhodiola and Salidrosides Are Neuroprotective
Rhodiola (p-tyrosol) increased survival, reduced neuronal damage in the hippocampus, and reduced lipid peroxidation in brain tissue in an animal model of neurodegenerative disease. Salidrosides protected against amyloid-β (found in Alzheimer’s) induced neurotoxicity in four fly models of Alzheimer’s. The neuroprotective effect of Salidroside was associated with stimulation of phosphatidylinositide 3-kinase (PI3K)/Akt signaling.
Rhodiola Rosea Reduces Symptoms of Cognitive Dysfunction
Salidrosides possesses potent anti-oxidative properties and protects against dopaminergic neuronal death. Rhodiola Rosea extract containing capsules increased wakefulness and cognitive performance by induction of increases of delta and theta (measures of brain activity) waves during mental challenges.
The Bottom Line
Rhodiola has been used in traditional medicine in Russia and Scandinavian countries for centuries.
Studies have found rhodiola may help strengthen the body’s response to physical stressors like exercise and psychological stressors such as fatigue and depression.
Also, test-tube and animal studies have investigated its role in cancer treatment and diabetes control. However, research in humans is needed.
If you want to use rhodiola, look for supplements that have undergone third-party testing to avoid the potential for adulteration.
Overall, rhodiola has many health benefits and is considered safe with a low risk of side effects when it’s taken in the recommended dosages.