This adaptogen herb supports your body’s capacity to manage emotional and physical stress. Traditionally, rhodiola was used to support healthy stamina in bitterly cold regions from the Arctic Circle to Siberia where it grows wild.
What Is Rhodiola Rosea?
Rhodiola rosea, also known as arctic or golden root, is a herb found in Europe and Asia. Traditionally, people in cold and mountainous regions used it to help them adapt to their rugged environments. Today, rhodiola is a popular supplement for helping the body deal with physical and mental stress.
Rhodiola rosea extract comes in liquid, capsule or tablet form.
Benefits of Rhodiola Rosea
Today, some of the most well-known rhodiola rosea benefits are for alleviating fatigue, enhancing cognitive function and boosting endurance.
Taking rhodiola is a natural way to ward off mental tiredness and prevent burnout. The herb is known for its adaptogenic properties, meaning it can help stabilize the body’s response to stress. It appears to be helpful in tense situations, such as taking exams or preparing for job interviews. According to a Swedish study from 2008, compared to a placebo, those who took a rhodiola rosea dosage of 576 mg for energy-boosting experienced reduced fatigue symptoms. Burned out volunteers with fatigue syndrome also had lower cortisol (stress hormone) levels in the morning after waking up.
Another European study showed a drop in chronic fatigue symptoms as participants continued taking the herb. Although the most change was seen after one week, the improvement was still considered significant after eight.
Improves Brain Function
While studying the anti-fatigue effects of rhodiola, the above-mentioned Swedish researchers also discovered the herb’s effects on mental performance. In particular, the participants showed a better ability to concentrate on tasks after 28 days of taking rhodiola.
Another study looked at how the herb affected doctors working night shifts. After making them complete mental tests, researchers found participants’ mental performance improved in the first two weeks of taking the supplement. The authors also cautioned it can improve performance by reducing fatigue in certain situations. Although one tablet taken during a single stressful event may not have an effect, it can be helpful over the course of long-term pressures.
Rhodiola is a common supplement athletes take to improve stamina. Since the herb is adaptogenic, it means that rhodiola can help the body adapt to physical stress. In a 2010 review of existing research, British scientists concluded that supplementing with rhodiola does appear to enhance physical performance.
A 2013 trial from Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania found that volunteers who had taken rhodiola an hour before exercise felt they’d exerted less effort while working out. Results showed the rhodiola improved their endurance and decreased heart rate during exercise.
Other research shows that taking a single dose of rhodiola can lead to a quicker finish for bikers. A 2009 study found that when taken an hour before, rhodiola shortened the time it took to complete a six mile timed course.
Studies on Rhodiola Rosea
Rhodiola rosea health benefits need to be researched further so we can get a full picture of its advantages. Although we’ve listed the most research-backed benefits above, there is some evidence the herb can help other mental and physical concerns.
Depression and Anxiety
Experts believe that rhodiola helps balance neurotransmitters in the brain, potentially improving mood. Some think its ability to retrain enzymes involved with neurotransmitter breakdown makes it a potent antidepressant.
When considering rhodiola rosea for anxiety and depression, you should know how it compares to pharmaceutical medication. One study looked at how the herb worked when compared to Zoloft, a common antidepressant. While the antidepressant had a bigger effect, rhodiola produced fewer side effects, perhaps making it a better choice for some patients.
Early studies on mice show that rhodiola may be beneficial for diabetes. A 2017 study found that an antioxidant in the herb may help mice control diabetes. In rats, rhodiola has also been shown to lower blood sugar. Although the results are promising, it's still unclear whether rhodiola has the same effect on humans.
Rhodiola in Summary
A quick-acting energy-booster, rhodiola rosea is a safe and effective natural performance enhancer. Not only can it promote physical endurance, but it also appears to boost mental focus too. Rhodiola’s natural adaptogenic and antioxidant content also show promise in safely regulating mood and anxiety levels.
For a morning kickstart to your physical and mental performance, rhodiola might provide you with the resilience you need to take on the day.