Rhodiola rosea, also referred to as golden root and rose root, is a flowering plant commonly found in the colder regions of Asia, North America, and Europe.
Rhodiola rosea (hereon referred to as rhodiola) has been used as a therapeutic herb in traditional medicine for thousands of years, dating back to ancient Greece.
In fact, Chinese emperors used the term “golden root” to refer to the herb; they had clans travel to Siberia just to obtain rhodiola for medicinal purposes. That is why it’s also referred to as “Tundra’s Ginseng”.
Purportedly, the Vikings used rhodiola to enhance their physical stamina and strength, and many Asian cultures brewed rhodiola tea to fight off infections, viruses, and even various forms of cancer.
In recent decades, research has slowly been investigating the anecdotal benefits of rhodiola supplementation, particularly root extracts.
Thus far, findings suggest rhodiola supplements have potent nootropic/anxiety-reducing and adaptogenic properties, among myriad other benefits.
There are over 140 identified chemical compounds in rhodiola, with root extracts usually containing a large portion of rosavin, rosin, rosarin, and salidroside.
Physiologically, these compounds work through a variety of pathways to induce nootropic benefits (such as anxiety relief and enhanced cognition).
Read on as this article takes a deep look at how rhodiola works, its research-backed benefits, how it may help reduce anxiety, how to supplement with it, and any potential side effects and safety concerns to be aware of.
- Rhodiola Rosea is great for helping your body lower it’s stress hormones!
- Take before exams or tasks that require mental clarity and clean ‘non-jittery’ energy.
- Avoid taking too late in the evening, it may disrupt your sleep.
- If you are trying to quit drinking coffee to give your adrenal glands a break, Rhodiola Rosea is a great substitute!
- For all of you runners out there, Rhodiola Rosea is great for increasing cardiovascular capacity during strenuous exercise!
- Rhodiola Rosea is just one of many over the counter supplements that can help your anxiety, to find out about others get our free Anxiety Supplement Guide by clicking the button below!
How Rhodiola Rosea Extract Works
Rhodiola is an adaptogenic herb, much like ashwagandha, that has been used for medicinal purposes since the first century A.D.
Adaptogens are substances that help the body handle stress.
Thus, when a stressful situation occurs, consuming rhodiola creates a degree of generalized adaptation that allows your body to handle the stress in a more resourceful manner.
It appears rhodiola enacts its adaptogenic property by balancing levels of catecholamines in the central and peripheral nervous systems.
Rhodiola root extract supplements possess a multitude of overall health benefits, as well as being potent nootropics and anxiety fighters.
For example, rhodiola has been shown to increase key enzymes that enhance muscle recovery after exhaustive resistance training, and it even stimulates glycogen synthesis in muscle tissue.
Other studies suggest rhodiola may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and various forms of cancer.,
Moreover, studies using proofreading tests have demonstrated that rhodiola supplements enhance memorization and concentration ability over prolonged periods.
It increases the bioelectrical activity of the brain which improves memory and brain energy.
A randomized, double-blind study designated forty students to either 50mg per day of a rhodiola extract supplement or a placebo pill.
The investigators main objective was to study the anti-stress and stimulatory effects of rhodiola extract in healthy teenage students during a stressful exam period lasting 20 days.
The students receiving the standardized rhodiola extract demonstrated significant improvements in physical fitness, mental performance, and general well-being.
Subjects receiving the rhodiola extract also reported statistically significant reductions in mental fatigue, improved sleep patterns, greater mood stability, and a greater motivation to study.
The average mark in the placebo group was 8.4% lower than the average mark in the rhodiola group, which indicates the usefulness of rhodiola during a stressful exam period.
Benefits of Rhodiola Rosea Extract
Over-the-counter rhodiola supplements are becoming much more prominent, and their use only continues to grow as time moves forward.
As aforementioned, salidroside, rosavin, and other compounds in rhodiola appear to have a profound role in reducing anxiety, cognitive enhancement, and maintaining healthy neurological function.
Moreover, the compounds in rhodiola have a significant bearing on reducing oxidative stress and inflammation.
While not particularly a nootropic benefit, keeping oxidative stress and inflammation under control is crucial for health and longevity.
Overall, the major research-backed benefits of rhodiola include:
- Natural anxiety and stress-reducing (via increasing serotonin precursor transport)
- Strong anti-cancer, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties
- Promotes calmness/relaxation
- Enhances cognitive function and memory
- Bolster immunity
- May promote fat loss by increasing lipolysis
Taking Rhodiola Rosea For Anxiety
Rhodiola supplementation appears to have strong benefits for reducing anxiety.
In 2008, a pilot study was conducted to test the effects of rhodiola extract supplementation in participants diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).
The study included 10 participants who scored greater than 16 on the Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale (HARS) – a clinical measurement tool used for diagnosing anxiety disorders.
After 10 weeks of supplementing with 340mg of rhodiola extract, patients decreased their HARS score by an average of 50%.
Furthermore, no patients dropped out of the study, signifying the exceptional safety profile of rhodiola.
Moreover, three of the study participants were long-time users of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and benzodiazepines.
They were allowed to continue their use of medication in conjunction with rhodiola; this suggests that rhodiola may enhance the effectiveness of prescription antidepressants and anxiety medications.
That being said, do not replace current anxiety medications with rhodiola supplements until you consult with a licensed physician.
Ideally, a medical professional should oversee your use of rhodiola supplements for anxiety.
Recommended Forms and Dosages
The amount and potency of rhodiola supplements you should use will depend on the desired effects you want and conditions you wish to treat.
Rhodiola root extract supplements are the best in terms of price efficacy and potency.
Make sure to check the label and see if the supplement manufacturer provides the percent salidroside and rosavins; ideally, the product should provide at least 1% and 3% of each, respectively.
The dosage suggestions for Rhodiola rosea root extract are as follows:
Reducing Anxiety and Enhancing Mood: 200mg taken twice daily, on an empty stomach (preferably upon waking and in the evening)
Enhancing Cognition and Neuroprotection: 100mg taken one to two times daily, on an empty stomach
For Immunity, Anti-cancer, Antioxidant, and Anti-inflammation: 150mg taken once daily, on an empty stomach
For Fat Loss: 150 to 200mg taken once daily, preferably upon waking on an empty stomach
Safety and Potential Side Effects
Rhodiola tends to be a well-tolerated and safe for over-the-counter supplementation, especially when used in proper doses. There is no established toxic dose of rhodiola at the time of this writing.
Exceptionally high doses of rhodiola supplements may induce acute side effects such as:
- Frequent urination
- Gastrointestinal distress
Most of these side effects will be rather uncommon unless taking exorbitant amounts of supplemental rhodiola. Stop using rhodiola supplements immediately if you begin to feel undesirable side effects.
You can then try a lower dose and see how you respond.
Rhodiola is one of the most compelling adaptogenic herbs known to man, with strong nootropic properties to boot.
Better yet, it’s very safe and tolerated well by most individuals; side effects are benign when they are present.
As noted throughout this article, anxiety-ridden subjects that supplement with Rhodiola rosea root extract typically show significant improvements in anxiety symptoms.
It also appears that rhodiola supplementation can produce modest increases in cognitive performance and learning ability.
For scholars and people in the workforce, this would be a welcome benefit.
Moreover, for general health and longevity, rhodiola presents a multitude of benefits, particularly for enhanced immunity and reducing oxidative stress.
Furthermore, rhodiola makes for a superb adjunct to other nootropics that act on serotonin – notably 5-HTP and L-tryptophan.
There is some data indicating that rhodiola supplementation pairs well with antidepressant medications too.
Remember to have a physician oversee your use of rhodiola for anxiety, especially if you’re already using prescription medications.
Lastly, be wary of rhodiola supplements that don’t list the potency of the extract.
Many manufacturers list the amount of total root extract in the supplement, but it is best if they also list the percentage of active components (e.g. salidroside, rosavin, etc.).