Rhodiola Rosea: What is Rhodiola, Health Benefits, How To Use

10th Sep 2017

Rhodiola Rosea – it’s a plant of many affectionate names, such as the golden root, rose root, Aaron’s rod and orpin rose, and little wonder why it’s well-regarded by so many, as this sweet flowering plant is more than just a pretty face. Let’s dive into what it is that makes this miracle flower so special.

Rhodiola Rosea – it’s a plant of many affectionate names, such as the golden root, rose root, Aaron’s rod and orpin rose, and little wonder why it’s well-regarded by so many, as this sweet flowering plant is more than just a pretty face. Let’s dive into what it is that makes this miracle flower so special.

What is Rhodiola Rosea?

Rhodiola Rosea is recognised by its canary yellow flowers, relatively tall growing height and lush green, fleshy shoot and leaves. It’s a survivor – found in some of the coldest regions in the world including the Artic and the sky-scraping mountains of Central Asia and Europe.

The immortalised Greek Physician Dioscorides was the first to record the medicinal properties of the plant, alllllll the way back in 77CE and christened it “Rodia Riza”, with was later renamed by Linnaeus, to Rhodiola Rosea – a name that played homage to the fragrant scent of the stem when cut.

This is a perennial plant of heritage – with a long and illustrious history in traditional medicine around the world, namely in Russia, Scandinavia and other European countries. Between 1725 and 1960 Rhodiola Rosea would appear in medicinal applications – and in the sixty years since there have been in excess of 180 pharmacological, phytochemical, and clinical studies that have been published about this ever more respected plant. Yet herein lies something fascinating –despite these studies on Rhodiola Rosea and its numerous health-promoting affects, in the western world these properties remain relatively unknown. This isn’t so surprising, given that study after study was published in the languages of Slavic and Scandinavian alone.

What are the health benefits of Rhodiola Rosea?

Rhodiola Rosea could be considered as somewhat of a superstar health supplement – and yet its light has been well and truly hidden under a bushel (for decades on end, no less).

As of 2002, a seriously comprehensive literature review pulled together paper after paper to provide the Western world with insight into the health advantages of Rhodiola Rosea. Here’s a summary of some of this extensive resource…

Rhodiola Rosea is an anti-fatigue, anti-stress, anti-oxidising natural wonder

Numerous studies on the effect of Rhodiola Rosea on cell structures have found that it boasts anti-fatigue, anti-stress, anti-hypoxic (protection against damaging effects of oxygen deprivation), anti-cancer and anti-oxidant qualities. These same studies also established that the plant was a helper of the immune system and even had sexual stimulating effects.

Rhodiola Rosea ensures that we think fast and look forward to a boosted mood

A single study back in 1965 uncovered something ground-breaking – that when Rhodiola Rosea was consumed in small to medium doses a stimulating effect was noted. Yet things got a whole lot more interesting when these doses were increased, which resulted in sedative effects.

Further studies would back up these findings, noting that the plant could change the bioelectrical activity of the brain – making us faster thinkers and doers in reasonable doses, while also stimulating happy hormones that included dopamine and serotonin.

Rhodiola Rosea is a positive treatment for ‘Neurasthenia’

Neurasthenia is a term that has been front and centre of much debate. Whilst not recognised as a distinct condition today by the United States, it remains accepted by the World Health Organization in the International Classification of Diseases, and is described as having the following symptoms:

Either persistent and distressing feelings of exhaustion after minor mental effort, or persistent and distressing feelings of fatigue after minor physical effort;

Accompanied by one or more of the following symptoms: muscular aches or pains; dizziness; tension headaches; sleep disturbance; inability to relax; and irritability;

Inability to recover through rest, relaxation, or enjoyment;

Does not occur in the presence of organic mental disorders, affective disorders or panic, or generalized anxiety disorder.

In a study of students, physicians, and scientists Rhodiola Rosea would be established as a capable supplement for addressing symptoms of Neurasthenia, and would also be found to increase intellectual capacity and improve perception.

Rhodiola Rosea is the fitness freak’s friend and a natural aid for the hard worker

There’s plenty of reason to believe that Rhodiola Rosea isn’t just an exceptional plant for the mind, but also for the body. Multiple studies have discovered that this plant can bolster physical work capacity and (pretty impressively) shorten the recovery time demanded between sessions of high-intensity exercise.

How to Use Rhodiola Rosea?

As a straight tablet supplement

Tieraona Low Dog, M.D. drives home the importance of using a supplement with similar qualities to those used in the studies, with approximately 2-3% rosavin and 0.8-1% salidroside. She suggests 100 mg once a day for a week, to increase to 100 mg every week, and up to 400 mg a day, if required.

For extract powders

Use 500mg - 1 gram (1/2 - 1 teaspoon) once or twice daily added to smoothies teas and foods.

“I recommend Rhodiola Rosea for treating patients suffering from “21st century stress”: fatigue, mental fog, trouble concentrating, low energy and, perhaps, mild depression”.

Tieraona Low Dog, M.D. Expert in integrative medicine, dietary supplements and women’s health