One of the great botanicals available today, Rhodiola rosea originates from both Siberia and the Tian Shan mountain range of northwestern China. A well studied adaptogen, Rhodiola defends the body overall, and protects general health and well-being. Its anti-stress and fatigue-fighting properties make it one of the most popular botanicals in all of Siberia. And its promotion of energy, endurance and stamina makes Rhodiola rosea a valuable aid for athletes. A small green plamt with a golden blossom, Rhodiola’s beneficial properties lie in the root. Extracts from the roots of the plant have been used by Eastern Bloc athletes for decades to improve overall performance. The root has also enjoyed a very long history for promoting sexual vigor and prowess.
Rhodiola rosea root contains a group of novel compounds which have not been found in other plants. These include rosin, rosavin and rosarin, known collectively as “rosavins.” Each of these has been studied, and each appears to make a significant contribution to the plant’s unrivalled anti-stress properties. Rhodiola also contains the agent salidroside, and protective antioxidants which inhibit the cellular deterioration process of oxidation, which is akin to rusting.
“The Altay Region of Central Siberia is a majestic territory of mountains, rushing rivers, and lakes. The area is also home to an energy-enhancing, stress-busting power herb, Rhodiola rosea.” - Chris Kilham, Fox News Health
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One of the great advances in more widespread understanding of Rhodiola rosea occurred when the Journal of The American Botanical Council, HerbalGram, published an Overview on Rhodiola rosea in 2002. This outstanding piece of work drew from more than one hundred previously un-translated Russian studies on the plant and its effects on health, revealing a potent and versatile natural healer. Co–authored by pre-eminent Rhodiola scholar Zakir Ramazanov, and New York psychiatrists Richard Brown and Patricia Gerbarg, the overview reported on proven benefits of Rhodiola rosea use for the nervous, endocrine, cardiovascular and reproductive systems, and anti-cancer effects. The overview also described cases of improved mental and emotional health due to Rhodiola rosea use, in patients who had not benefited from other interventions, including drugs and pscyhotherapy.
Rhodiola rosea is one of a handful of plants which fit the criteria of adaptogens, those agents which promote non-specific resistance to a wide range of adverse influences of all kinds, including harmful factors that are physical, biological and chemical. As an adaptogen, Rhodiola rosea helps to re-establish normal, healthy function under conditions of stress which may range from mild to severe.
Under stress, many different compounds increase in the body, including adrenalin, opioids and catecholamine. If levels of these substances remain high in the system, they can produce damage to nervous and glandular function, including the sex glands. One substance, CRF, or corticotrophin releasing factor, has been studied extensively. CRF increases in the body as a result of stress, and can in time lead to impaired sexual function. CRF actually promotes an additional feeling of stress, perpetuating an already taxing condition. Commonly this is accompanied by a feeling of overall fatigue, characterized by mental fatigue in particular. In studies, Rhodiola rosea has been shown to reduce various stress-induced chemicals in the body to normal levels, and alleviate general and mental fatigue. Rhodiola lowers levels of CRF specifically, enabling the body and mind to recuperate and establish normal function. In cases of stress-induced loss of libido and diminished sexual function, Rhodiola rosea can help to bring the near dead back to vibrant life.
“Every herbalist has their favorite plant. Mine is Rhodiola rosea. Why? Because it improves energy, endurance and stamina, it improves mental clarity, it enhances your ability to concentrate, it gives you a great night's sleep even though it's an energizer, it improves sexual function, and it improves your immune system too.”
– Chris Kilham, Fox News
While Rhodiola rosea is the subject of a number of successful Russian human clinical studies, two sexual studies stand out. Among forty women who suffered amenorrhea (loss of menses), daily administration of Rhodiola rosea extract for two weeks restored menses. Subsequently eleven of the women became pregnant. Among thirty-five men with erectile dysfunction, twenty-six experienced significantly improved sexual function, as a result of taking Rhodiola rosea extract for three months. Additionally, the men experienced normalization of prostatic fluid. Rhodiola rosea restores healthy sexual function in many cases.
To meet the challenges of life in today’s fast-paced, high stress world, Rhodiola appears ideal. In human studies using extracts of the root, Rhodiola fights fatigue, combats stress, and possesses both antioxidant and anticancer properties. Rhodiola protects body and mind against oxygen deprivation, enhances overall immune function, and promotes healthy sexual function in men and women. According to published science, this activity is largely attributed to a group of pharmacologically active compounds in the root called rosavins.
In the brain, Rhodiola extract helps to improve various parameters of brain function including attention, memory, thought formation, calculating, evaluating, planning, and overall learning.
Rhodiola rosea is a first-rate adaptogen. By definition, this means that Rhodiola demonstrates extraordinary safety, offers very broad benefits to body and mind, and specifically helps the user to adapt better to any and all forms of physical and mental stress.
In various human studies, Rhodiola improved strength, endurance, stamina, physical work capacity, recovery time from exertion, motor coordination, and cardiovascular measurements. Rhodiola extract decreases fatigue, exhaustion. This makes Rhodiola extract a superior sports performance aid. Extract of the root also helped users to reduce work-related errors.
Rhodiola also improves aspects of sexual health. In one study of women with amenorrhea Rhodola helped a majority of women to regain proper healthy menstrual regularity. (17, 18). In another study of 35 middle-aged men with erectile dysfunction, 25 improved significantly after taking an extract of Rhodiola.
You can experience Rhodiola rosea in a few ways. You can travel to the Siberian Altay and swig Rhodiola rosea from a woodsman’s vodka bottle, or you can use the root in fluid or powdered extract supplement forms. In human clinical studies, a standardized powdered extract was used in many cases. That extract was standardized to 3 percent rosavins, and 0.8 percent salidroside. Participants in studies took between 150 – 200 milligrams of the extract daily. You can find such standardized extract supplements in natural product stores.
Rhodiola rosea offers a dynamic health experience for the herbal user. If take it, you will feel it. Rhodiola is in my estimation the broadest, most remarkable feel-good botanical in nature’s pharmacy. This herb has the power to revolutionize people’s experience of their health, and can be an effective gateway botanical. If people use a good quality Rhodiola rosea and experience positive results, they will then feel much greater confidence in trying other herbal remedies.
Rhodiola rosea References
Saratikov AS, Krasnov EA. Rhodiola rosea is a valuable medicinal plant (Golden Root). Tomsk, Russia: Tomsk State University Press; 1987.
Darbinyan V, Kteyan A, Panossian A, Gabrielian E, Wikman G, Wagner H. Rhodiola roseain stress induced fatigue: a double blind cross-over study of a standardized extract SHR-5 with a repeated low-dose regimen on the mental performance of healthy physicians during night duty. Phytomedicine2000;7(5):365-71.
Saratikov AS. Golden Root (Rhodiola rosea). Tomsk, Russia: Tomsk State University Press; 1974.
Spasov AA, Wikman GK, Mandrikov VB, Mironova IA, Neumoin VV. A double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study of the stimulating and adaptogenic effect of Rhodiola roseaSHR-5 extract on the fatigue of students caused by stress during an examination period with a repeated low-dose regimen. Phytomedicine2000;7(2):85-9.
Furmanowa M, Oledzka H, Michalska M, Sokolnicka I, Radomska D. Chapter XXIII Rhodiola roseaL. (Roseroot): In vitroregeneration and the biological activity of roots. Vol. 33. In: Bajaj YPS, editor. Biotechnology in Agriculture and Forestry. Vol. 33. Medicinal and aromatic plants.VIII. Berlin and Heidelberg, Germany: Springer-Verlag; 1995. p. 412-26.
Spasov AA, Wikman GK, Mandrikov VB, Mironova IA, Neumoin Marina TF, Alekseeva LP. Effect of Rhodiola roseaextract on electroencephalograms in rabbit. In. Saratikov AS, editor. Stimulants of the Central Nervous System. Tomsk, Russia: Tomsk State University Press; 1968. p. 22-6.
Marina TF. Effect of Rhodiola roseaextract on bioelectrical activity of the cerebral cortex isolated to a different extent from the brain. In Saratikov AS, editor. Stimulants of the Central Nervous System. Tomsk, Russia: Tomsk State University Press; 1968. p. 27-31.
Brekhman II, Dardymov IV. New substances of plant origin which increase non-specific resistance. Ann Rev Pharmacol 1968;(9):419-30.
Zatova MI, Krilov GV, Saratikov AS. Golden root: new stimulative and adaptogenic drug. Proceedings of Siberian Academy of Sciences. Biological and Medical Sciences. 1965;2:111-9.
Saratikov AS. Screening for natural central nervous system stimulants. In: Saratikov AS, editor. Stimulants of the Central Nervous System. Vol. 1. Tomsk, Russia: Tomsk State University Press; 1966 p. 3-23.
Saratikov AS, Krasnov EA. Chapter III: Stimulative properties of Rhodiola rosea. In: Saratikov AS, Krasnov EA, editors. Rhodiola rosea is a valuable medicinal plant (Golden Root). Tomsk, Russia: Tomsk State University; 1987. p. 69-90.Onkol 1992;38(10):1217-22. 90.
Panossian A, Wikman G, Wagner H. Plant adaptogens. III. Earlier and more recent aspects and concepts on their mode of action. Phytomedicine1999;6(4):287-300.
Salnik BU. Effect of several stimulators on central nervous system energy metabolism during muscular workload [dissertation]. Tomsk, Russia: Tomsk State Medical Institute; 1970.
Adamchuk LB. Effects of Rhodiola on the process of energetic recovery of rat under intense muscular workload [dissertation]. Tomsk, Russia: Tomsk State Medical Institute; 1969.
Danbueva EA. Effect of stimulators of the central nervous system on lipid metabolism at different muscular workloads [dissertation]. Tomsk, Russia: Tomsk State Medical Institute; 1968
Revina TA. Effect of stimulators of the central nervous system on carbohydrate and high energy phosphorylated compound metabolism in the brain during intense muscular workload [dissertation] Tomsk, Russia: Tomsk State Medical Institute; 1969.
Gerasimova HD. Effect of Rhodiola roseaextract on ovarian functional activity. Proc of Scientific Conference on Endocrinology and Gynecology. Sverdlovsk, Russia. 1970 Sept 15-16. Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences. p. 46-8.
Saratikov AS, Kras- nov EA. Chapter VI: The influence of Rhodiolaon endocrine glands and the liver. In: Saratikov AS, Krasnov EA, editors. Rhodiola rosea is a valuable medicinal plant (Golden Root). Tomsk, Russia: Tomsk State University; 1987. p. 180-93.
Saratikov AS, Krasnov EA. Chapter VIII: Clinical studies of Rhodiola. In: Saratikov AS, Krasnov EA, editors. Rhodiola rosea is a valuable medicinal plant (Golden Root). Tomsk, Russia: Tomsk State University Press; 1987
Saratikov AS, Krasnov EA. Chapter III: Stimulative properties of Rhodiola rosea. In: Saratikov AS, Krasnov EA, editors. Rhodiola rosea is a valuable medicinal plant (Golden Root). Tomsk, Russia: Tomsk State University; 1987. p. 69-90.