SEPTEMBER 9, 2016
Rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea), sometimes called Arctic root or golden root, is considered an adaptogenic herb, meaning that it acts in nonspecific ways to increase resistance to stress, without disturbing normal biological functions. Rhodiola Rosea is still widely used in Russia as a tonic and remedy for fatigue, poor attention span, and decreased memory; it is also believed to make workers more productive. Studies of Rhodiola in both humans and animals have indicated that it helps prevent fatigue, stress, and the damaging effects of oxygen deprivation. Evidence also suggests that it acts as an antioxidant, enhances immune system function, and can increase sexual energy. Rhodiola’s efficacy was confirmed in a 2011 review of 11 placebo-controlled human studies. The reviewers considered studies that all had study designs rated as moderate to good quality, and the analysis of their combined data concluded that Rhodiola Rosea might have beneficial effects on physical performance, mental performance, and certain mental health conditions. Rhodiola appears to be able to significantly reduce the effects of prolonged and minor physical exhaustion that results in fatigue. This is more related to stress and the ‘burnout’ effect, or prolonged but low intensity physical exercise. There is some limited evidence that parameters of physical exercise can be improved with Rhodiola, but this appears to be limited to untrained persons with numerous studies on trained athletes suggesting that Rhodiola does not have an acute ergogenic effect. Rhodiola appears to be highly reliable in reducing fatigue symptoms and improving symptoms of stress in persons fatigued from non-exercise related stressors. In the brain, Rhodiola appears to be highly serotonergic (increases serotonin) and reduces corticosteroids; the inhibition of monoamine oxidases (MAOs) commonly attributed to Rhodiola may not be relevant following oral ingestion of Rhodiola. Given its vast potential for averting stress-related disorders, this remarkable herb from the Arctic regions of Russia has no doubt found a lasting place in the medicine cupboards of forward-thinking consumers today.