Rhodiola rosea is also known as the golden root or arctic root, two fitting names as it is a bright, sunny herb that grows at high altitudes in cold and mountainous areas of Asia and Europe. This rose root is also known as “king’s crown” for its spiky, regal appearance, but what is this plant’s impact on your health and well-being? We have the science behind the Rhodiola rosea benefits you can expect when you include it in your diet.
What Makes Rhodiola Rosea So Special?
What makes this cold-climate herb so special that it’s included in the health shake formulas here at VeggieShake and is considered by some health experts to be more powerful than any other weed or herb on the ground?
Well, the key is in Rhodiola rosea‘s roots, which work as adaptogens: non-toxic natural plant compounds that help the body resist stressors and reduce stress hormone levels. Adaptogen plants like Rhodiola rosea can be adjunct natural remedies for conditions such as high blood pressure or generalized anxiety disorder, and may help boost an individual’s physical performance and enhance mental focus.
Plant adaptogens like ginseng and ashwagandha have specific active ingredients that aid in relieving health conditions such as depression and fatigue. Extract of Rhodiola rosea contains salidroside and rosavin, two compounds that help protect the central nervous system from oxidative stress and more. Read on for the specifics from various clinical studies conducted by scientific researchers and health care professionals.
Scientifically Backed Rhodiola Rosea Benefits
Long known to be beneficial in Scandinavian and Siberian regions like Russia for aiding mental health and relieving physical fatigue, Rhodiola rosea has been the featured ingredient in clinical trials that have proven the health benefits of this dietary supplement.
Depression is generally understood as a mood disorder characterized by an imbalance in the brain’s neurotransmitter chemicals. The antidepressants prescribed by doctors work to correct the balance of these chemicals, but in some instances natural remedies can work in much the same way.
Rhodiola rosea extract has been shown to be effective in treating symptoms of depression by helping to balance the neurotransmitters of the brain with potent antidepressant activity. One study on participants with mild to moderate depression found that those in the Rhodiola rosea group experienced improvements in emotional stability, insomnia, and overall depression compared to those in the control group, and that those receiving a larger dose of Rhodiola rosea also reported an uptick in their self esteem.
Even when compared to the prescription SSRI sertraline (Zoloft), Rhodiola rosea was able to reduce depressive symptoms, and though it was to a lesser degree, it did so with fewer side effects and discomforts. For those who want a natural option for managing depression, Rhodiola rosea could be the solution.
Adaptogens are still in the process of being fully understood as stress relievers, but while the mechanisms aren’t 100% clear, the results are consistent when a systematic review is conducted. One study on people suffering from burnout due to stress found that Rhodiola rosea improved both their levels of depression and stress. Another study examining Rhodiola extract’s effect on stress over 4 weeks discovered that it significantly improved feelings of anxiety, fatigue, and stress in participants within the first 3 days.
In times of stress, Rhodiola rosea could help reduce harmful symptoms and prevent burnout by chronic stress.
3. Fights General and Mental Fatigue
Rhodiola root extract has been studied in relation to chronic fatigue, whether it’s caused by sleeplessness due to anxiety or it’s stress-related fatigue. The adaptogenic abilities of Rhodiola rosea have been shown to alleviate conditions of fatigue, stress, poor mood, and lack of concentration, along with enhancing participants’ general quality of life.
One study revealed that of 60 participants with stress-induced fatigue, those who took Rhodiola rosea extract SHR-5 exhibited significant improvement in attention and fatigue levels over the placebo group.
These same results were seen in a double blind cross-over study on the mental performance of healthy physicians during night duty, with Rhodiola rosea reducing general fatigue under those stressful conditions. A repeated low-dose regimen of the SHR-5 compound caused no ill side effects and started working to improve fatigue within the first 2 weeks.
For improving energy and focus, especially in times of stress, Rhodiola rosea has data supporting its effectiveness.
4. Improves Athletic Performance
Not isolated to improving the mind only, Rhodiola rosea also enhances athletic and exercise performance. This 2013 study on cyclists performing a 6-mile race showed that a dose of Rhodiola rosea an hour before the race led to those participants finishing the course faster than the placebo group. Those results confirmed previous findings from 2004: Rhodiola rosea given to participants executing a cycling test improved the group’s endurance exercise performance by an average of 24 seconds—a short time during normal daily activities but an eternity in a competitive race, when the difference between second and first place can be down to the millisecond.
Rhodiola rosea supplementation allows for longer endurance and decreased perceptions of exertion during exercise and physical competition.
5. Antihyperglycemic and Anti-Cancer
There is animal research suggesting Rhodiola rosea may contribute to natural diabetes control, lowering blood sugar levels in diabetic rats by boosting the amount of glucose transporters needed to get glucose into cells and out of the bloodstream. While studies are still needed on human participants to know exactly how effective Rhodiola rosea may be for glycemic control in comparison with the current diabetes medications available, this data is still promising.
The same is true regarding Rhodiola rosea and its ability to fight various cancers. Salidroside is the active ingredient isolated for investigation with cancer inhibition, and in laboratory settings it has performed successfully against liver, breast, bladder, and colon cancer cells. Again these are studies done in test tubes, and more studies are needed before Rhodiola rosea can be applied to living patients, but this is more confirmation of the healthful power of the golden rose root that is Rhodiola rosea.
A Rose by Any Other Name
Rhodiola rosea extract can be found in tablet or capsule form, or purchased as a tea. The VeggieShake products include Rhodiola rosea in their formulas with the aim to harness its natural power that can make a real and palpable difference to those who rely on them not just for nutrition, but for phytomedicine too.
Rhodiola rosea extract is well tolerated and safely effective in doses from 200 to 600 milligrams per day (whether split into multiple doses or concentrated in a single dose). Just be sure to seek medical advice before adding this traditional medicine to any regimen of modern pharmaceuticals, and then see if the science holds true for you when this golden crown of an herb improves your focus, physical performance, and feelings of well-being with regular use.