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Authors: Dr. Patricia L. Gerbarg and physician Richard P. brown

Rhodiola rosea (Arctic root, rose root, Golden root and king root) is the most effective and versatile representative of the elite class of herbs, called adaptogens. This name they received because of their impact on our ability to withstand a lot of stress factors: physical, psychological, toxic, chemical, infectious, neoplastic (cancer), aging factors, etc.

Rhodiola rosea is a wild plant that grows at high altitudes from 2400-300 m above sea level in the mountains of Siberia, Georgia, and Scandinavia. Living at these heights since time immemorial people collected the roots of this plant and used them to survive in harsh conditions. The place where these plants grew were kept secret. The roots of Rhodiola rosea were exchanged for groceries and other goods. Chinese emperors sent expeditions to mine the precious roots, which were known as “Golden root” or “Imperial root”. Extracts of this plant were used to treat infections and improve energy levels and physical strength, improve brain function, fertility and sexual function.

Today, due to the growing demand for wild adaptogens Rhodiola rosea refers to protected species. The plant was actively cultivated in Scandinavia and Eastern Europe. Although a cultivated plant is not as efficient as wild Rhodiola rosea extract, a well-grown plants can be used for the production of effective dietary supplements. Products of the highest quality you can find, having studied the work of specialists in herbal remedies, or by selection of brands and trademarks, which confirmed the effectiveness in published scientific studies.

To confirm that the products contain real Rhodiola rosea pure, used trusted. As the active marker compounds in the standardised extracts are used rosavins, salidroside (radiologic) and tyrosol. Unfortunately, the standardization system is not reliable. Today, companies can synthesize the marker compounds and to add them to a set of plant extracts, and this is sufficient to meet the requirements for standardization.

Many bioactive compounds

People often ask how one plant can have so many different therapeutic effects. The answer is simple. The root of Rhodiola rosea contains dozens of bioactive compounds, which have individual and synergistic action, for example, an antioxidant or reducing fatigue. Genomic studies indicate that a single dose of Rhodiola rosea extract may affect the activity of more than 800 genes. We will tell you how to use the potential benefits of this adaptogen.

Enhancement and retention of energy – reduced fatigue

Burst of energy –one of the first effects noted by those who started taking Rhodiola rosea. Unlike synthetic pharmaceutical stimulants, Rhodiola rosea increases the energy level gradually. The effect lasts about 8 hours, then the energy level gradually decreases. As a consequence, Rhodiola does not cause dependence or withdrawal syndrome.

In General, Rhodiola rosea increases the ability of cells to develop high-energy molecules. As a result, many types of cells – muscle cells, neurons, etc … – have enough energy to continue functioning normally for a longer time. Moreover, the cells have enough energy to maintain the mechanisms of cellular regeneration. Besides, Rhodiola rosea protects cells from oxidative damage, toxins, cold or heat stress, infections, low oxygen content, and other forms of stress.

Rhodiola rosea may reduce fatigue caused by many different reasons, including fatigue due to stress, overwork, diseases, shortage of sleep and aging.

Become smarter naturally

Many studies have shown that Rhodiola rosea can improve cognitive function, memory and mental performance, especially under stressful conditions. For example, participants in randomized controlled trials (RCTS), taking Rhodiola rosea, made fewer mistakes than those who were given a placebo. In addition, increasing duration of testing for many hours the difference in performance became even larger, which means that the subjects who took Rhodiola, managed to maintain a higher level of health without mental exhaustion for up to 8 hours.

Aging in women changes caused by menopause

In clinical practice we find evidence that Rhodiola rosea is particularly helpful for women with symptoms of “blurred consciousness” during and after menopause. At this stage a woman is faced with several stressors: workload, family responsibilities, aging parents and the many health problems the woman and her family. The number of stressors tend to increase in that period of life when the energy level of women are naturally declining. Lack of energy for solving problems that confront us in life, leads to fatigue, irritability and mild depression. The situation is complicated by the fact that with age it becomes increasingly difficult to work in multitasking mode and track information. We expect that they themselves will cope with everything and not make any mistakes. Accordingly, when suddenly it turns out that we can no longer do everything on the same level, it could lead to frustration, lack of confidence and low self esteem. This situation affects the relationship.

Menopause can also be a period of critical reassessment of the situation and his own health. Menopause can lead us to lifestyle changes that will help live a longer, healthier and happier life. Of course, Rhodiola is not a panacea, but it can significantly help, because it increases energy levels, improves concentration and mood. The authors of an interesting study involving women with depression found that Rhodiola rosea improves both mood and self-esteem.

Aging in men – changes caused by the male menopause (andropause)

Male menopause can begin as early as 35 years. The average age of onset of andropause – 44 years. It can manifest in the form of hormonal, physical, psychological, interpersonal, sexual, social and spiritual changes. Add to this the energy levels and of testosterone, libido, mood, ability to conceive, self-esteem, physical strength and cognitive abilities. These changes also often occur when men build a career, take on additional responsibilities that require from men more time and energy. It is often during this period, men first encounter with such diagnoses as high cholesterol, hypertension, chest pain, or enlarged prostate. To cope with this hard time. Rhodiola rosea may enhance the durability, efficiency, confidence and improve athletic performance. Study the adaptive formula containing Rhodiola rosea, Chinese Magnolia vine and prickly Eleutherococcus, showed significant improvement in physical stamina and health.

Improved mood

Rhodiola rosea can be used to treat mild and moderate forms of depression, especially the type of depression in which a person feels tired and lethargic. In addition, Rhodiola can be taken as a Supplement, improves the response to treatment with prescription antidepressants. Complete remission reach only about 30% of people taking antidepressants with a doctor’s prescription. The majority of patients experiencing only partial improvement, sometimes residual symptoms. In many cases it may be useful to enter into the diet Rhodiola rosea.

The attention deficit disorder

Rhodiola improves mental focus, and therefore may be useful for some people with attention deficit disorder with or without hyperactivity (ADHD). Rhodiola is suitable for patients with minor ADHD or intolerance to prescription stimulants. To add to the diet Rhodiola will be useful for those who take prescription stimulants, but can’t take them at the dosage sufficient for complete relief of symptoms.

Altitude sickness

Rhodiola rosea have been used for centuries by the residents of mountainous areas to maintain strength and endurance. Studies show that Rhodiola improves the ability of animals to adapt to environments with low oxygen content . In my clinical practice we have found that traveling to high altitude regions, can prevent symptoms of altitude sickness, taking Rhodiola before and during the trip.


In trips with the change of time zones, many disturbed biorhythms. The intake of Rhodiola rosea in the morning upon arrival at the destination and for the next several days may reduce the period of adaptation to another time zone.

Reproductive function

In traditional folk medicine, Rhodiola rosea was used to boost fertility in men and women. Official human studies have not been conducted, but animal studies show the potential benefits of Rhodiola. For example, animal studies have shown that the addition of Rhodiola rosea in the frozen semen for insemination of animals led to improvement of mobility and viability of sperm.

In one small study of Russian gynecologist found that approximately 50% of women with amenorrhea (lack of menstrual cycles) who took Rhodiola rosea, restored normal menstruation and approximately 50% of these women were able to conceive.

There is a worldwide decline in fertility that can be caused by chemical pollutants in the environment and foods. In addition, in many countries people postpone conceiving, giving birth to children far beyond 30. Fertility declines with age both in men and women.

In my clinical practice, we sometimes combine Rhodiola rosea with other herbs that stimulate the fertility, such as Peruvian Maca. Receiving daily doses of Rhodiola can extend or improve the fertility of individual patients and couples who postpone child bearing until age more than 35 years. More research is needed on the use of Rhodiola rosea in combination with other adaptogenic herbs to enhance fertility of man.

Side effects when interaction with prescription drugs

Many widely used drugs have undesirable side effects, such as fatigue and impact on cognitive function. Rhodiola rosea can eliminate these side effects and thereby help patients to better handle the treatment.

How to extract the maximum benefit and minimize side effects Rhodiola rosea
Maximum benefit from Rhodiola rosea

Rhodiola rosea is better absorbed when taken on an empty stomach, so it should take at least 20-30 minutes before Breakfast or lunch. Rhodiola rosea has an invigorating effect and therefore, may disturb sleep if taken in the afternoon or evening.

In the Internet found mention of the fact that Rhodiola rosea loses effectiveness when taken for 6 or 8 weeks. However, according to our experience, we find that for most people, Rhodiola may be effective for continuous long-term employment for many years, or as necessary prior to and during stressful periods.

Side effects and precautions when taking Rhodiola rosea

In General Rhodiola rosea is considered safe and has relatively few side effects. However, some people may be sensitive to stimulating effects. Such people have a reaction to the intake of Rhodiola may manifest as anxiety, irritability or insomnia. Some experiencing vivid dreams during the first two weeks, but this does not apply to the unpleasant phenomena.

People who are sensitive to stimulants, as well as the elderly and people with poor health should start taking Rhodiola with lower doses and gradually increase the dose. When administered simultaneously with caffeine or stimulant drugs Rhodiola may enhance their effect. We encourage our patients to reduce or stop consumption of caffeine when taking Rhodiola rosea.

Patients with bipolar disorder can make radiolo only under medical supervision because of the stimulating effect of Rhodiola can exacerbate agitation and irritability.

In higher doses (450 mg / day) Rhodiola may slightly affect platelets responsible for blood clotting. If this happens, you will notice an increase in the number of bruises. About excessive bleeding while taking Rhodiola were reported. However, if a person takes drugs that also reduce blood clotting, e.g. aspirin or motrin, it may exacerbate bruising and bleeding. When taking anticoagulants, for example, coumadin, you should discuss the intake of Rhodiola with your doctor, who may want to check the clotting time to make sure that Rhodiola it is not affected by. It is recommended to stop taking Rhodiola rosea 10 days before major surgery.

Despite the fact that Rhodiola rosea as a whole is good for the heart, people with the arrhythmia or tachycardia (heart palpitations) stimulating effects of the plant may lead to worsening symptoms of the underlying disease.

Animal studies suggest that Rhodiola rosea does not possess teratogenic properties, which means that it does not cause birth defects. The safety of Rhodiola when taken during pregnancy or breastfeeding in humans has not been studied.

Drug interactions

There is a misconception that Rhodiola rosea may interact with many drugs, because it affects the cytochrome P450 (involved in the metabolism of many drugs). This is a misconception generated by a study in which Rhodiola rosea extract was tested in vitro (extract was added to other substances in a test tube). Effect of medicinal plant extracts in the laboratory and at the reception people and other animals (in vivo) can be significantly different. During the digestion of food additives broken down into digestive enzymes and are involved in metabolic processes, during which they are transformed into different compounds called secondary metabolites. Secondary metabolites may not have clinically significant interactions with drugs or may have an impact opposite of what was discovered during testing in the laboratory (in vitro).

The only way to prove the interaction of plants with medicinal drug is to test the plants and drugs on humans. To date, clinically significant interactions Rhodiola rosea with most drugs it is not revealed. However Rhodiola has a moderate inhibitory effect on cytochrome P450 2C9 in the human body. This may be clinically significant in the treatment of substrates of cytochrome P450 2C9 (drugs that also are metabolized by the same enzyme) in a narrow therapeutic range (e.g. phenytoin and warfarin). However, any changes in action of phenytoin or warfarin can be monitored by a physician, the dosage can be adjusted.

What dosage of Rhodiola rosea the most effective?

The optimal dose of Rhodiola rosea depend on the needs and characteristics of the patient. The dosage also depends on the efficiency of the selected product.

Some people respond to the dosage of only 50 mg/day, while others may require as many as 400 mg twice a day. Average dosage for adults is 300-600 mg per day. Studies show that taking in doses exceeding 900 mg per day are inappropriate.

It is wise to start with a moderately low dose, for example, 150 mg per day, increasing by 150 mg every 3-7 days to have an effect. If you experience side effects, increase the dose cannot be, or need to increase dosage gradually over a longer period of time.

For therapy-resistant depression, ADHD or cognitive disorders may require dosage up to 900 mg a day if no side effects. When taken in high doses (e.g., 450-900 mg/day) care should be taken to see if the patient has an increased tendency to formation of bruises, and recommend the patient to refrain from taking anticoagulants such as drugs containing aspirin.

More detailed instructions on dosage for different diseases set out in Brown and Gerbarg 2009 and 2017.


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  • This article was written by integrative psychiatrists Dr. Patricia Gerbarg, and Dr. Richard P. brown. Dr. Gerbarg, associate Professor of psychiatry at new York medical College, graduated from Harvard medical school and practiced psychiatry for 39 years. Her research and publications are focused psychotherapeutic practices with stress, anxiety, PTSD, depression, and mass disasters. Dr. brown, associate Professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia University, has lectured internationally and has co-authored over 100 scientific articles, chapters and books. Dr. brown and Dr. Gerbarg developed a neurophysiological theory, exploring the influence of breathing yoga for the treatment of stress, anxiety, depression, PTSD and stress-related medical conditions, which was confirmed in clinical trials and have survived after natural disasters. They are also co-authors the award-winning books. www.Breath-Body-Mind.com.


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