Rhodiola is generally considered safe and well tolerated, although high doses (1.5-2.0 g/day) have been associated with irritability. Rhodiola rosea may have a mild energizing effect, so it should be taken first thing in the morning or during midday. The herb is best taken without food. Rhodiola’s effects in pregnant and nursing women have not yet been studied, so these women should not use the herb until more information is available. 3
Integrative Practitioners Praise Rhodiola’s Benefits
Natural health practitioners in the United States are well aware of the herb’s many benefits. They have used R. rosea for years to help manage a wide variety of conditions.
Naturopathic physician and author Tori Hudson, ND, says: “I typically use rhodiola for: infertility, lack of ovulation, irregular and/or infrequent menses, adrenal fatigue, poor stress adaptation, decreased memory, chronic sleep disorders, chronic fatigue syndrome, mild depression, shortening the recovery time between bouts of exercise, [and] enhancement of athletic performance.”
Naturopathic physician and registered nurse Holly Lucille, ND, RN, adds that she has successfully used rhodiola for patients with adrenal dysfunction, amenorrhea, mild depression, anxiety, stress, and weight loss. “It is just so effective from a medicinal perspective and can be used in such a variety of clinical situations,” says Lucille.
Patricia L. Gerbarg, MD, has recommended rhodiola to women suffering from the symptoms of menopause. “Particular women in the perimenopausal stage of life, they get a combination of things that change,” she explains. “With hormonal changes, they have a loss of energy, they get a brain fog, they can’t multi-task well, their libido is down; they get depressed. It’s just when their careers are peaking. They’re supposed to be at their best and go downhill.”After taking R. rosea, Gerbarg says, these patients have increased energy and mental clarity. And they feel sexier. “They’re very happy customers,” she says.
“Any patient who has a problem with fatigue—almost regardless of the cause (because of medication, fatigue related to aging or depression, post-infection disease)—rhodiola can be like the magic bullet,” Gerbarg says. “I’ve had cases of amazing recovery with rhodiola, a lot of residual symptoms with these people—loss of energy, loss of strength, their brain slows down—sometimes these will improve quickly and dramatically with rhodiola.”
Dr. Gerbarg also notes that her patients have reported improved sexual function with rhodiola. “Increasing energy in general can improve people’s sexual interest and performance,” she says. “When people are fatigued they tend to have less sexual interest and more performance difficulties.” Rhodiola rosea’s work as a stress reliever may improve sex for the people who find sex “stressful mentally or physically,” she adds.
Improving the Body’s Response to Stress
Stress is an inevitable fact of life, but it can have serious consequences on our mental and physical health. Effective strategies for managing stress are therefore essential to thrive in a fast-paced world. Research suggests that rhodiola may offer a practical, natural solution for overcoming many stress-related complaints.
Rhodiola rosea relieves stress by balancing the body’s stress-response system. This consists of the sympathetic nervous system (which prepares the body to expend energy during crises, often described as the “fight or flight response”) and the counterbalancing parasympathetic nervous system (which recharges and heals the body, returning it to a relaxed state). With constant stress, the system becomes unbalanced, making us feel edgy, tired, or depressed. Rhodiola rosea helps re-establish balance by acting as an adaptogen—an agent that strengthens the body’s response to physical, mental, and emotional stressors.
It is believed that rhodiola enhances the body’s tolerance to stress by influencing key brain chemicals, such as serotonin and norepinephrine, and natural feel-good opioids such as beta-endorphins. 2,3
As a dietary supplement, take 2 vegetarian capsules daily with food or as directed by a physician.
Rhodiola Rosea - Standardized Description
Supports overall well-being.* May help fight fatigue and provide energy.*
What is Rhodiola Rosea?
Rhodiola rosea is a plant that grows in dry, cold areas in the mountainous regions of Europe and Asia. It has been a dietary staple in many Eastern European and Scandinavian populations for centuries. While research has been conducted on the plant in some areas of the world, only recently has the West begun to investigate its health benefits. The roots have been used primarily to help with resistance to physical stress.*
Rhodiola rosea has been categorized as an adaptogen by Russian researchers who observed its ability to increase resistance to a variety of chemical, biological and physical stressors.* Traditional uses of Rhodiola rosea include fighting fatigue and the enhancement of physical and mental performance.*
There are over 200 species of Rhodiola, and Rhodiola rosea is generally considered preferable, due to the presence of rosavins. High-quality supplements generally contain a minimum of 3% rosavins.
How does Rhodiola Rosea support health?
Helps maintain balance in the body during a variety of physical stresses.*
Supports the efficiency of the cardiovascular and respiratory systems.*
Helps maintain healthy oral mucosa tissue during chemically stressful self-induced situations.*
Has free radical scavenging ability, making it a good antioxidant.*
Promotes mental clarity and well-being.*
May help fight fatigue and provide energy.*
Supports overall well-being.*