What is Rhodiola Rosea?

You may have heard of the herb called Rhodiola rosea. What is it and what does it do? Below you’ll find the many benefits of Rhodiola Rosea.

Rhodiola (Rhodiola Rosea L) is a highly-valued medicinal plant that grows in the arctic and mountainous regions throughout Asia, Europe and North America. The herb and its extract is commonly taken as a supplement.

Other names for rhodiola include the following: golden root, arctic root, king’s crown and rose root.

For centuries, rhodiola has been used as an adaptogen for reducing stress and improving physical and mental performance. Rhodiola was also used to help treat headaches, hernias, “hysteria,” discharges and high-altitude sickness.

Recent studies have found that rhodiola extracts have the following properties:

  • Anti-inflammation
  • Antioxidant
  • Anti-viral
  • Anti-aging
  • Immune-boosting
  • DNA repairing
  • Antidepressant
  • anti-cancer properties. 

In clinical trials, rhodiola extract has also been shown to improve mild to moderate depression and generalized anxiety.

Research has shown that when people with fatigue take a single dose of rhodiola extract, it can improve mental performance and attention. The herb has also been shown to prevent emotional, physical and mental exhaustion in people with fatigue syndrome.

In athletes, rhodiola has been shown to enhance the body’s natural resistance to fatigue and depression. Even Russian astronauts have used rhodiola to prevent fatigue and enhance performance.

In particular, more research is needed to better understand the herb’s potential anti-cancer properties. Although Rhodiola extract and salidroside (its key compound) have been studied, actual research in humans is limited. In vitro studies suggest that salidroside may have anticancer effects.

In people with breast cancer receiving epirubicin (chemotherapy drug), a small study suggests that salidroside may have cardioprotective effects, but larger studies are needed.

Another study looked at the effects of a 20-day regimen of Rhodiola rosea supplements on stressed-out students. The findings show that participants experienced significantly reduced mental fatigue, better sleep patterns and an increased motivation to study. In fact, their exam scores were 8% higher than students in the placebo group.

Several clinical trials have shown that a Rhodiola extract improves mental performance and attention after single and repeated doses, and also prevents physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion in people with fatigue syndrome. The extract was also found to be effective in treating mild to moderate depression and generalized anxiety.

The active ingredient in Rhodiola, called salidroside, has also been studied for its effects on binge eating. The study, conducted with rats, showed that a dry extract of Rhodiola rosea (3.12% salidroside) either reduced or eliminated binge eating in the rodents.

The rats that consumed Rhodiola also showed lower blood levels of a stress hormone that may play a role in binge eating.

In another rat study, the findings show that Rhodiola rosea may reduce anorexia triggered by stress. The authors say the results provide evidence to support claims that the herb has anti-stress effects.

What is an adaptogen?

Rhodiola rosea is considered an adaptogen, a class of herbs that enhance your body’s ability to handle stress and fatigue. The idea behind the name “adaptogen” is that they “adapt” to your body’s individual needs.

These important herbs date back to Chinese medicine and Indian Ayurvedic practices. Research shows that adaptogens have antidepressant, neuroprotective, anti-fatigue, and anti-anxiety effects.

So how do they work? Long term stress leads to overactivity of the brain’s HPA axis (hypothalamic, pituitary, and adrenal glands). 

When the HPA becomes overactive, it results in the release of too much epinephrine (adrenaline) and cortisol (chemicals involved in the fight-or-flight response). This can trigger a variety of health problems, including mental health disorders, insomnia, diabetes and heart disease.

Adaptogens can impact how much cortisol and adrenaline are released, which can help fight adrenal fatigue.

Do you have other adaptogens?

Yes, Siesta Botanicals offers three other potent adaptogens: ashwagandha, holy basil and Reishi mushrooms.

What is ashwagandha?

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) — also called Indian ginseng or winter cherry — is an ancient Ayurvedic herb. It’s been used for more than 3,000 years to decrease stress and improve stamina and concentration. 

In Sanskrit, ashwagandha means “smell of the horse,” which may be applied to its unique smell and its ability to increase strength.

Ashwagandha has been shown to support the adrenals by regulating cortisol levels. It’s also been found to stabilize blood sugar levels.

Many of ashwagandha’s health benefits are credited to its high levels of withanolides, hormone precursors that can convert into human physiological hormones to help bring balance to the body. Research has shown that ashwagandha can help improve sleep and reduce stress. 

In one review, ashwagandha was found to outperform psychotherapy by reducing anxiety in a group of participants by 56.5% compared to only 30.5% in the psychotherapy group.

What is holy basil?

Holy basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum), or Tulsi, is widely consumed as an herbal tea. The herb is commonly used in Ayurveda, and has a place within the Vaishnava tradition of Hinduism, in which devotees use holy basil plants or leaves to engage in worship. 

Research has shown that holy basil can improve mood, reduce fatigue and improve sleep. Many people who take holy basil say it’s a potent stress reliever.

Furthermore, scientific studies in animals, humans and in vitro have found that holy basil exerts a unique combination of actions that include anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, anti-diarrheal, antioxidant, anticataract, neuro-protective, cardio-protective, anti-diabetic, memory enhancement, anti-asthmatic, anti-arthritic, and anti-stress effects.

What are Reishi mushrooms?

Reishi mushroom (Ganoderma lingzhi) is a fungus belonging to the genus Ganoderma. In Chinese, the word “lingzhi” suggests spiritual potency and immortality. 

Reishi is considered the “herb of spiritual potency,” symbolizing success, well-being, divine power, and long life. Among mushrooms, Reishi mushrooms are unique in that its pharmaceutical rather than nutritional value is paramount. 

Reishi mushrooms are full of antioxidants and are a potent immune system booster. They have historically been used to treat infections, improve sleep and reduce fatigue.

Research in cancer patients has found that some of the molecules in Reishi mushrooms can enhance the activity of helpful white blood cells known as natural killer cells.


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