How can Rhodiola Rosea Benefit Your Mind and Body?

Published Jan 8, 2024 • By Somya Pokharna

Rhodiola Rosea, recognized as golden root, arctic root, and king’s crown, boasts a rich history in traditional medicine that has now been validated by several studies. 

But what exactly are its uses and benefits? How is it used? Are there any side effects or drug interactions? 

Unearth the properties of this remarkable herb in our article! 

How can Rhodiola Rosea Benefit Your Mind and Body?

What is Rhodiola Rosea? How does it work?  

Rhodiola Rosea is a herbaceous flowering plant native to cold, high-altitude regions of Europe and Asia. It has a rich history in traditional medicine, particularly in areas like Russia, Scandinavia, and other mountainous regions. 

The active compounds found in Rhodiola Rosea, such as rosavin and salidroside, are believed to be responsible for its potential health benefits. These bioactive components are thought to have adaptogenic properties. Adaptogens are natural substances believed to enhance the body's ability to resist various stressors, including physical, environmental, and emotional stress. 

What are the main benefits and uses of Rhodiola Rosea? 

Rhodiola extract is suggested to protect cells from damage, regulate heartbeat, and potentially modulate the body's stress response. Additionally, it's believed to possess antidepressant, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties based on various studies and traditional usage. Evidence also suggests that extracts derived from Rhodiola Rosea possess potent anti-aging properties in various model organisms, including fruit flies, worms, and yeast.  

Regarding the particular conditions it might address, here are several potential applications of Rhodiola Rosea derived from existing research: 

Stress Management 

Some evidence suggests Rhodiola Rosea may assist in increasing resilience to stress. Some studies propose its potential in reducing stress hormone levels and stress-induced heart issues, but more robust research is required for definitive conclusions. 

Depression and Anxiety 

Studies indicate that Rhodiola Rosea could potentially reduce symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder and mild to moderate depression. Its effects were found to be milder compared to conventional antidepressants like sertraline, but with a more favorable side effect profile.  

Nonetheless, more extensive research, especially on severe depression cases, is required for a clearer understanding of its effectiveness. 

Stress-Related Eating Disorders 

Active compounds in Rhodiola Rosea were studied for their effects on binge eating and stress-induced anorexia in rats, showing potential in reducing or eliminating binge eating behaviors and lowering stress hormone levels. 

Stress-Related Fatigue 

Rhodiola Rosea demonstrated potential in reducing symptoms of stress-related fatigue in studies, showing a positive impact on fatigue symptoms and reduced cortisol levels in individuals with stress-related fatigue.  

However, further rigorous investigations are necessary to confirm these findings conclusively. 

Exercise Performance 

Some studies suggest that short-term supplementation with Rhodiola Rosea might enhance resistance and anaerobic exercise performance. While initial results show promise, larger studies with more diverse populations are needed to validate these effects. 

Cognitive Function 

Studies have investigated how Rhodiola impacts the brain under stress. When the body experiences heightened stress, it can improve physical senses but impair cognitive functions due to increased cortisol levels, resulting in difficulties like brain fog and short-term memory loss. In a 28-day trial, taking 576 mg of rhodiola extract daily was observed to boost focus, attention, and cognitive abilities

Type 2 Diabetes 

Another research indicates that Rhodiola Rosea could help with type 2 diabetes by affecting the gut in a way that improves its barrier, reducing the movement of inflammatory substances into the bloodstream. This improved gut function can impact body weight and how insulin works. This herb might also enhance how liver and muscle tissues respond to insulin made by the pancreas. 

How is Rhodiola Rosea taken? 

Rhodiola Rosea is available in various forms like capsules, tablets, dried powder, and liquid extract. However, the appropriate dosage can vary depending on the intended use. It's crucial to consult a healthcare professional before taking Rhodiola or any supplement. In most human clinical studies, standardized extracts containing 3% rosavin and 1% salidroside were used, with daily doses ranging from 364 mg to 1,500 mg. However, it's essential to stay within safe dosage ranges, which is up to 680 mg in the long term. Prolonged use of Rhodiola may carry risks due to nitrile compounds found in the herb. 

As herbal supplements aren't regulated like drugs by the FDA, dosages and extract amounts can vary between brands and products. Quality and purity can also vary, raising concerns about consistency and effectiveness. Always check product labels for standardized extract information and consult healthcare professionals to determine the appropriate and safe dosage based on individual needs and specific health conditions

What risks and side effects can Rhodiola Rosea lead to? 

Although generally uncommon and mild, the reported side effects of Rhodiola Rosea include: 

  • Dizziness 
  • Dry mouth 
  • Sleep disturbances or insomnia 
  • Jitteriness or restlessness 
  • Allergic reactions (in rare cases) 
  • Irritability 
  • Increased blood pressure 
  • Chest pain 
  • Activation or heightened stimulation 
  • Agitation 
  • Anxiety 
  • Headaches (occasional) 

Individuals may experience these side effects especially when taking higher doses or in cases where there's an existing predisposition to anxiety or sensitivity to stimulants. 

How does Rhodiola Rosea interact with other drugs? 

Rhodiola Rosea has the potential to interact with various drugs due to its influence on certain enzymes and physiological pathways in the body. Some interactions reported include: 

  • Serotonergic medications: Rhodiola Rosea might theoretically increase the risk of serotonin syndrome when taken alongside drugs such as Paxil (paroxetine) or Zoloft (sertraline), which affect serotonin levels in the brain. 
  • Enzyme-metabolized drugs: Rhodiola Rosea can impact enzymes involved in metabolizing medications like Cozaar (losartan), Dilantin (phenytoin), and Jantoven (warfarin), potentially altering their levels in the body. This interaction could affect the effectiveness and safety of these drugs. 
  • Stimulants: Rhodiola Rosea may have additive effects with other stimulants like caffeine, potentially intensifying their impact on the body. 
  • Psychotropic drugs: While there aren't many documented interactions, caution is advised, especially with monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) and psychotropic drugs, although Rhodiola may potentially add to their stimulant effects. 
  • Platelet aggregation: Rhodiola's potential impact on platelet aggregation suggests that caution is warranted when using it alongside medications affecting blood clotting. 
  • Birth control, diabetic, and thyroid medications: Rhodiola may interfere with the effectiveness of birth control pills or medications used for diabetes or thyroid conditions. 

It's crucial to discuss Rhodiola Rosea usage with a healthcare professional, particularly if you're taking medications or have underlying health conditions. Healthcare providers can offer guidance on potential interactions and ensure safe and appropriate use of Rhodiola alongside other medications or supplements. 

Key Takeaways 

Rhodiola Rosea, a flowering plant renowned for its adaptogenic properties, holds potential health benefits rooted in traditional medicine. Its active compounds, like rosavin and salidroside, are believed to aid in managing conditions like stress, anxiety, and depression. Studies also suggest its potential in reducing fatigue, enhancing exercise performance, and potentially benefiting heart health.  

While generally safe, Rhodiola may cause mild side effects and has the potential to interact with certain medications, necessitating caution and healthcare consultation before use. 

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