Rhodiola rosea, also known as “golden root,” “arctic root,” or “roseroot,” is a plant with a long history of use by various cultures, including Greeks, Chinese, Russians, Mongolians, Germans, and parts of Middle Asia. Its reputation has grown significantly due to its numerous benefits and minimal side effects, making it increasingly popular in modern times (1).
This herb, belonging to the Rhodiola genus of the Crassulaceae plant family, is usually characterised by its adaptogenic properties (1). However, it offers many more advantages, some of which are discussed in this article.
The Many Benefits of Rhodiola Rosea
Stress & Anxiety (1)
Primary Benefits: Rhodiola rosea has been recognized as an adaptogen, bolstering the body’s resilience to stress. A study involving 101 individuals with life- and work-related stress revealed significant improvements in stress symptoms, such as fatigue and anxiety, after just three days of taking 400 mg of Rhodiola extract daily.
Secondary Benefits: Evidence suggests that Rhodiola rosea may also reduce symptoms of generalised anxiety disorder. In a study involving ten participants, taking 340 mg of Rhodiola rosea extract daily for 10 weeks led to a significant improvement in GAD symptoms.
2. Fatigue (1)
Primary Benefits: Rhodiola’s adaptogenic properties are believed to combat fatigue effectively. A four-week study involving 60 participants with stress-related fatigue demonstrated that a daily intake of 576 mg of Rhodiola improved fatigue levels and attention when compared to a placebo.
Secondary Benefits: Moreover, in a swimming endurance test on rats, Rhodiola administration increased swimming time by an impressive 135-159 per cent, indicating enhanced working capacity during supplementation.
3. Depression (1)
Primary Benefits: Research suggests that Rhodiola rosea may help fight depression by balancing neurotransmitters in the brain. Clinical trials on adults with major depressive disorder and stress-induced mild depression showed possible antidepressant actions with Rhodiola extract.
Secondary Benefits: Additionally, Rhodiola extracts exhibited inhibitions on MAO-A and MAO B, indicating their potential in controlling senile dementia.
4. Neuroprotective Effects (1)
Primary Benefits: Rhodiola may contribute to the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative conditions through its neuroprotective effects.
Secondary Benefits: It suppresses oxidative stress, neuroinflammation, and excitotoxicity in brain tissues, and it may protect dopaminergic neurons, potentially offering benefits against Parkinson’s disease.
5. Antioxidant and Anti-Carcinogenic Effects (1)
Primary Benefits: Studies on animals have shown that Rhodiola rosea reduces toxicity from certain anticancer drugs while enhancing their anti-carcinogenic effects.
Secondary Benefits: Furthermore, Rhodiola extracts have exhibited potential anticancer activity against leukemic cells, indicating possible roles in modern cancer treatment.
6. Anti-Inflammatory Activity (2)
Primary Benefits: Studies have shown that Rhodiola rosea exhibits potent anti-inflammatory activity. The extract significantly reduced carrageenan-induced paw oedema in rats in a dose-dependent manner, indicating its potential in combating inflammation. Rhodiola rosea treatment increased the production of proinflammatory cytokines in human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) through NF-κB activation, demonstrating its immunostimulatory potential.
Secondary Benefits: Additionally, the extract inhibited inflammatory enzymes COX-1, COX-2, and PLA2, suggesting that it stabilises cell membranes to counter inflammation.
7. Liver Health (2)
Primary Benefits: Rhodiola rosea and its principal constituent, salidroside, have shown remarkable hepatoprotective effects. Salidroside attenuated liver damage induced by D-galactosamine and LPS, reducing serum enzyme levels and TNF-α production.
Secondary Benefits: Moreover, it also restored hepatic antioxidant enzymes, reducing oxidative stress and histopathological changes in liver tissue.
8. Heart Health (2)
Primary Benefits: Rhodiola rosea has been found to possess remarkable cardioprotective effects. Studies demonstrate that it prevents stress-induced cardiac damage and lowers blood pressure.
Secondary Benefits: The herb also exhibits antiarrhythmic properties, enhances coronary flow, and increases contractility in the postischemic period, benefiting the heart.
9. Diabetes Management (2)
Primary Benefits: Rhodiola rosea extracts and salidroside have shown promise in managing diabetes mellitus (DM). In animal studies, Rhodiola extracts increased PPARd expression and improved cardiac output in diabetic rats. Salidroside exhibited hypoglycemic activity and reduced fasting blood glucose, total cholesterol, triglyceride, and MDA levels while increasing insulin and antioxidant enzyme levels in diabetic mice.
Secondary Benefits: These findings suggest that Rhodiola rosea and salidroside could be potential options for managing DM and mitigating oxidative stress associated with the condition.
10. Obesity and Hyperlipidemia Prevention (2)
Primary Benefits: Rhodiola rosea has been found to inhibit the activity of lipase, making it a potential treatment for hyperlipidemia and obesity. Rhodiola extracts increase SOD activity during adipogenesis, reducing ROS levels and inhibiting lipid accumulation in preadipocytes.
Secondary Benefits: Furthermore, the inhibition of proline dehydrogenase and glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase prevents proline-mediated energy generation and antioxidant enzyme response, resulting in the suppression of adipogenesis and lipid accumulation. Tyrosol, another component of Rhodiola rosea, shows similar effects, making it useful in preventing obesity.
11. Immune System (2)
Primary Benefits: Rhodiola rosea showcases remarkable potential in boosting the immune system. Studies reveal that Rhodiola aqueous extract enhances immunoglobulin levels and stimulates antibody responses in rats. It also exhibits adjuvant and immunopotentiating activity, positively influencing delayed-type hypersensitivity responses and cellular immunity. Salidroside, a prominent compound found in Rhodiola rosea, also contributes to immune modulation by increasing T cell numbers and enhancing immune responses in aged rats.
Secondary Benefits: Furthermore, salidroside has shown promise in preventing asthmatic reactions and suppressing inflammatory cytokines, highlighting its potential in managing immune-related conditions.
12. Anti-Ageing Effects (1)
Primary Benefits: The extract SHR-5 from Rhodiola rosea has been shown to increase the mean and maximum lifespan of fruit flies by up to 24% and 31%, respectively. Although the exact mechanisms of Rhodiola’s anti-ageing effects are not fully understood, it extends lifespan in fruit flies independently of caloric restriction-related signalling pathways.
Secondary Benefits: As such, Rhodiola rosea can be effectively used in skincare.
Rhodiola rosea is considered safe with a low level of toxicity. Its recommended dosage generally ranges from 200 to 600 mg per day (1).
Common side effects of Rhodiola rosea may occur with higher dosages and when used with caffeine. These effects may include drowsiness, trouble sleeping, gastrointestinal problems, headache, dizziness, anxiety, agitation, nausea, restlessness, insomnia, and hyper-salivation. Limited clinical research data is available on its safety during pregnancy and breastfeeding, so it’s best to consult a healthcare professional before use in these situations (1).
- Rhodiola rosea should not be prescribed to individuals with manic behaviour disorders or bipolar disorder as it can potentially trigger mania.
- It should also be avoided by those sensitive to antidepressants.
- Rhodiola may also stimulate the immune system and can worsen symptoms of autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disorders (Crohn’s disease/ulcerative colitis), and neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis.
- Rhodiola may also interfere with platelet aggregation and certain medications, including diabetic or thyroid medication, and birth control pills.
Rhodiola rosea, with its adaptogenic properties, has been recognized for centuries by different cultures for its diverse health benefits. From stress and anxiety relief to neuroprotection, immune system support, and skin health, this plant offers a range of advantages. Additionally, its potential in managing diabetes, promoting heart health and preventing obesity makes it a valuable herbal remedy.
However, before incorporating Rhodiola rosea into your wellness routine, you must consult with a practitioner to ensure its safe and appropriate use.
How can Rhodiola rosea help me with stress and anxiety?
Rhodiola rosea is an adaptogen that boosts my resilience to stress. Studies show it can improve symptoms like fatigue and anxiety in just a few days of daily intake.
Is Rhodiola Rosea safe to use?
Rhodiola Rosea is considered safe if taken in recommended dosage. However, caution must be exercised if you take a high dosage or take it with caffeine.
Are there any potential side effects of Rhodiola Rosea?
Common side effects may include drowsiness, headache, dizziness, and gastrointestinal problems. Pregnant or breastfeeding women are recommended to consult a healthcare professional before use.
Disclaimer: The information provided here is for general information and not meant to substitute any medical advice. Please consult your doctor for appropriate medical consultation.