In a world teeming with processed foods and synthetic medications, finding natural ways to support your health and improve everyday concerns like anxiety and fatigue has never been more important. Luckily, research shows that adaptogenic herbs like rhodiola rosea contain powerful compounds that can help the body thrive under stressful situations. Here’s everything you need to know about rhodiola rosea.
What is rhodiola
Rhodiola rosea, commonly known as “golden root” or “arctic root,” is a perennial flowering plant that grows in the mountains of Russia, Scandinavia, and other cold mountainous regions of Eurasia. Studies show that rhodiola rosea extract can be beneficial for numerous physical and mental functions, and some people believe it can treat mild to moderate depression, anxiety, anemia, high blood pressure, and many more. Read on to learn more about the effects of rhodiola rosea and what to look for when shopping for a rhodiola supplement.
Health benefits of rhodiola rosea
Research on the health effects of rhodiola rosea is still emerging, but results so far have been promising. Here’s what the science says about the benefits of rhodiola:
In traditional medicine, rhodiola is known as an adaptogen, which are plants and substances that help the body cope with stress through a number of mechanisms. Investigators don’t know why it happens, but studies show that taking a supplement with rhodiola root extract may help reduce burnout and stress.
Rhodiola has stimulating effects weaker but similar to caffeine. People in the northern mountains of Europe and Asia have been using rhodiola for centuries to treat anxiety and fatigue, as well as increase energy during stressful times.
Improve athletic performance
Preliminary research shows that rhodiola rosea extract may help improve sports and exercise performance by increasing antioxidant activity and boosting mental alertness.
In one animal study, rats that received a combination of rhodiola extract with another compound found in rhodiola rosea root called Rhaponticum carthamoides showed improvements both in physical strength and muscle power. And another study found that taking a rhodiola supplement could boost athletic endurance by decreasing perceived exertion.
Reduce symptoms of depression
Evidence suggests that rhodiola rosea, or golden root, may have antidepressant properties and could help treat mild to moderate depression in some people.
In one 2015 study published in Phytomedicine, investigators compared the effects of rhodiola with those of a common antidepressant. The results showed that both were effective at reducing symptoms of depression, although the antidepressant sertraline (Zoloft) seemed to have a greater effect. However, rhodiola rosea extract was better tolerated and produced fewer side effects.
While more research is needed, early research suggests that rhodiola rosea may also:
- Have anti-cancer properties
- Help manage diabetes
- Reduce instances of binge eating
- Help treat anemia
- Side effects & risks
Because it is a relatively rare plant, rhodiola rosea supplements are at risk of adulteration or counterfeiting. To avoid this, always look for a reputable source you can trust.
Rhodiola is safe and well-tolerated when taken by mouth in the appropriate doses either as a liquid extract, as part of a dietary supplement, tea, capsules, or tablets. Side effects are typically mild and can include:
- Dry mouth
- Trouble falling or staying asleep
A final word
Rhodiola rosea shows great promise as an adaptogen and may be effective at reducing stress, fatigue, and mental burnout when taken as a nutritional supplement. Overall, the risks of taking rhodiola are low, and it seems to produce few side effects even in relatively large quantities. As always, talk with your doctor before taking a new supplement to determine if it’s right for you.
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