Rhodiola rosea is a plant that has been used for centuries to strenghten the body, increase endurance and resistance to disease. It is sometimes referred to as Arctic Root. It occurs naturally in the mountainous regions of the northern hemisphere. The tuberous rhizomes and roots of Rhodiola were formerly used to produce special preparations increasing fertility and vitality. The first references to its therapeutic potential came from Dioscorides, a Greek doctor, who described its use in 77 BC in „De Materia medica”. Rhodiola permanently penetrated the traditional medicine of Russia, Scandinavia, Far East and other countries.2
In addition to its well-documented adaptogenic properties, Rhodiola has a beneficial effect on higher cognitive function - concentration of attention, learning and memory. The extract of Rhodiola enhances clarity of thought, removes states of nervous tension and improves mood. The antidepressant effect has been confirmed in many studies. It was also demonstrated that an extract from the rootis better tolerated by humans than conventional antidepressants (such as Setraline).1,7
Rhodiola restores the natural homeostasis of the body, adds energy and increases the motivation to act, particularly in people suffering from chronic fatigue as a result of prolonged stress.16
Rhodiola effectively reduces feelings of depression, fear and fatigue, and also eases symptoms of „burnout”. In small to medium doses, the root extract has a stimulating effect; however in large doses can cause feelings of sleepiness and sedation. Rhodiola stimulates cognitive functions, simultanously silencing emotions and tension. It reduces irritability, improves attention and provides energy to act.4
Rhodiola root is also beneficial in the treatment of sexual disfucntion. The active substances of the root influence many neurotransmitters (norepinephrin NE), serotonin (5-HT), dopamine (DA), acetylcholine (Ach) and also show to have an inhibiting effect on MAO A and MAO B enxymes (in vitro). The extract of Rhodiola can support the process of recovery from addiction to cigarettes and opioids (such as morphine).8
Rhodiola is a typical adaptogen with an unspecified mechanism of action that targets many areas of the body. Adaptogens not only strengthen the body, but also increase its ability to adapt, increase resistance to stress and adverse enviornmental conditions. Rhodiola increases endurance and physical capacity of the body, and is very effective in cases of physical and psychological fatigue.14
Adaptogenic properties of Rhodiola are probably due to tits impact on the hypothalamic-pituitary axis (HPA) and the sympathetic adrenergic system. Rhodiola extract normalize cortisol levels and improve non-specific stress by increasing the concentration of serotonin in the hypothalamus and midbrain. It also protect against the negative effects of prolonged stress on the nerve cells.16
Rhodiola significantly improves intellectual performance, improves concentration and ability to remember. It reduces feelings of fatigue and increases work efficacy.5,11 Thanks to its anti-oxidating and anti-inflammatory effects, Rhodiola extract has a protective effect on nerve cells.6 Studies have also shown that the extract of Rhodiola combats the effect of scopolamine-induced memory deterioration (anti-amnesiac) and reduces the cognitive deficits induced by beta-amyloid.17
A positive effect on serotonin levels was also observed in the hippocampus – the structure that plays a key role in the proper functioning of memory. A regenerating effect was also observed in the damaged cells of the hippocampus.3 It is noted here that salidroside's beneficial effect on the processes of neurogenesis (the creation of new neurons) may be associated primarily with its antioxidant properties. An improvement in typical cognitive abilities – thought, association, attention, or learning and memory, is associated with the effect of the extract on neurotransmitter levels in the pathways leading to the cerebral cortex. Moreover, Rhodiola extracts have an inhibitory effect on acetycholinsterase, the enzyme that breaks down acetylcholine. The result of this is an increased amount of this neurotransmitter which leads to the improvement of memory. Because of these properties, it is believed that Rhodiola rosea could potentially be very beneficial in patients suffering from neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's.9
Immunostimulant, cardioprotective, hepatoprotective, antioxidant, antiviral, normalizes hormone levels, improves fat and glucose metabolism, increases sensitivity to insulin(helps maintain normal blood sugar levels), anti-cancer; prolongs life.13
Effective doses used in these studies ranged from approximately 50 mg to 600 mg per day. For achieiving clear anti-stress effects, doses from 300 to 600 mg were applied. To prevent the feeling of fatigue, doses of 50-100 mg were applied daily.
Do not combine with drugs from the SSRI group or MAO inhibitors. Do not use simultaneously with drugs that lower blood sugar levels.
Rhodiola rosea can bind to the estrogen receptor, so it should be avoided by women with breast cancer.15
1. Amsterdam, J., Panossian, A., (2016). Rhodiola rosea L. as a putative botanical antidepressant. International Journal Of Phytotherapy And Phytopharmacology [Phytomedicine]
2. Brown, R., P. , Gerbarg, P., (2002). HerbalGram: Rhodiola rosea: A Phytomedicinal Overview. The Journal of the American Botanical Council, Page: 40-52.
3. Chen, Q. G., Zeng, Y. S., Qu, Z. Q., Tang, J. Y., Qin, Y. J., Chung, P., Wong, R., and Hägg, U. (2009).
The effects of Rhodiola rosea extract on 5-HT level, cell proliferation and quantity of neurons at cerebral hippocampus of depressive rats. Phytomedicine 16, 830-838.
4. Cropley, M., Blanks, A., Boyle, J., (2015). The Effects of Rhodiola rosea L. Extract on Anxiety, Stress, Cognition and Other Mood Symptoms. Phytother. Res. 29: 1934–1939.
5. Ishaque, S., Shamseer, L., Bukutu, C., and Vohra, S. (2012). Rhodiola rosea for physical and mental fatigue: a systematic review. BMC complementary and alternative medicine 12, 70.
6. Lee, Y., Jung, J. C., Jang, S., Kim, J., Ali, Z., Khan, I. A., and Oh, S. (2013). Anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective effects of constituents isolated from Rhodiola rosea. Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
7. Mao, J. J., Xie, S. X., Zee, J., Soeller, I., Li, Q. S., Rockwell, K., and Amsterdam, J. D. (2015). Rhodiola rosea versus sertraline for major depressive disorder: A randomized placebo-controlled trial. Phytomedicine 22, 394-399.
8. Mattioli, L., Titomanlio, F., and Perfumi, M. (2012). Effects of a Rhodiola rosea L. extract on the acquisition, expression, extinction, and reinstatement of morphine-induced conditioned place preference in mice. Psychopharmacology 221, 183-193.
9. Nabavi, S., Braidy, N., Orhan, I., Badiee, A., Daglia, M., Nabavi, SM., (2016). Rhodiola rosea L. and Alzheimer's Disease: From Farm to Pharmacy. Phytotherapy Research, 30: 532–539.
10. Nicotra, G. (2010). Rhodiola rosea. Nutrafoods 9, 29-33.
11. Olsson, E. M. G., Von Schéele, B., and Panossian, A. G. (2009). A randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-group study of the standardised extract SHR-5 of the roots of Rhodiola rosea in the treatment of subjects with stress-related fatigue. Planta Medica 75, 105-112.
12. Panossian, A., Wikman, G., and Sarris, J. (2010). Rosenroot (Rhodiola rosea): Traditional use, chemical composition, pharmacology and clinical efficacy. Phytomedicine 17, 481-493.
13. Pomari, E., Stefanon, B., and Colitti, M. (2015). Effects of two different Rhodiola rosea extracts on primary human visceral adipocytes. Molecules 20, 8409-8428.
14. Różański, H., http://rozanski.li/1202/rozeniec-rhodiola-w-ziololecznictwie/ [dostęp 13.04.2016r]
15. Szafrański, T., (2014). Leki ziołowe w leczeniu depresji – aktualny stan wiedzy. Psychiatr. Pol. 2014; 48(1): 59–73.
16. Tajer, A., (2011). Rhodiola rosea L. jako przykład rośliny adaptogennej. Ann. Acad. Med. Siles. 65, 4, 77–82.
17. Zhang, L., Yu, H., Zhao, X., Lin, X., Tan, C., Cao, G., and Wang, Z. (2010). Neuroprotective effects of salidroside against beta-amyloid-induced oxidative stress in SH-SY5Y human neuroblastoma cells. Neurochemistry International 57, 547-555.
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