As someone who is perpetually stressed out, I’m constantly looking for natural ways to reduce my anxiety and help chill me the eff out. Stress can have some pretty negative side effects, especially on your mood, behavior, and long-term health and wellness. That’s where Rhodiola rosea comes in. Rhodiola is an adaptogen. Adaptogens are natural herbs and plants that can help your body adapt to stress and help you better cope with anxiety. While it’s been studied for over 45 years in Europe it’s still relatively new to the continental U.S. and could be the chill pill you’ve been losing sleep over looking for.
What Is Rhodiola Rosea?
Also called artic root, golden root, and roseroot, Rhodiola is one of the most commonly used psychostimulants in Europe. It grows in frigid climates between the crevices of rocks, in high-elevation and on sea cliffs in certain regions of Europe, Russia, North America, and Britain. Several clinical studies have demonstrated its effectiveness used to improve mental performance, relive stress, anxiety, fatigue, and as a mild to moderate anti-depressant [R, R, R, R].
An interesting fact, Rhodiola was studied during the Cold War by athletes and Russian cosmonauts, as a stimulant to improve mental fatigue, and alertness [R].
How Does Rhodiola Work?
Similar to Ginseng, Rhodiola is an adaptogen, meaning it increases your bodies resistance to physical and mental stress without interfering with normal physiology. It can both calm the body’s stress response as well as mitigate the damaging effects of stress. In so many words, adaptogens can help handle stress better. Researchers believe that adaptogens work by altering the reactivity of defense systems, such as the immune system, endocrine response, and central nervous system.
Most of the benefits of Rhodiola are derived from two active compounds – salidrosides and rosavins. Salidrosides are phenolic compounds which play a major role in cancer prevention and treatment. Phenolic compounds also have a variety of anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Rosavins are classified as an organic plant compound belonging to the phenylpropanoids.
Stress affects your cortisol levels, the central nervous system (CNS) and the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal-axis (HPA). Research suggests that Rhodiola works directly on the CNS and increases levels of norepinephrine, dopamine, serotonin, and other neurotransmitters to speed and optimize communication between synapses. It stimulates two parts of the brain, specifically the cerebral cortex which controls and stimulates your ability to think, analyze and interpret information and the frontal cortex, which is responsible for memory, focus, and the aptitude to learn. It also works to boost levels of acetycholine, a neurotransmitter needed for memory recall. Furthermore, it positively effects the limbic system which helps mood state and emotional well being.
What Are The Benefits Of Rhodiola Rosea?
Chronic to long term anxiety can have a detrimental impact on your health and normal day-to-day function, leading to symptoms such as depression, anxiety, lack of sleep, and comprised immune health [R] Rhodiola has been proven through several clinical studies, to help improve your body’s response and ability to cope with stress.
A pilot study conducted at UCLA recruited ten participants with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and were administered 340 mg of Rhodiola Rosea each day for ten weeks. The results showed significant decreases in anxiety and stress [R]. In a similar study, participants were given two doses of Rhodiola per day, and exhibited reductions in anxiety, stress, anger, confusion and depression with significant improvements in mood after 14 days [R].
As an adaptogen, Rhodiola may not completely eradicate stress, however it can help cope with the effects to make it more bearable. Several studies have shown that Rhodiola can help prevent physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion in stress induced environments. One study showed improvement in mental fatigue amongst a group of 161 servicemen, while another double-blind crossover study showed favorable outcomes in cognition and perception amongst physicians working graveyard shifts [R, R].
The ability of Rhodiola Rosea to improve cognitive function is well established. Numerous studies have indicated improvements in short term memory, focus, and learning capabilities [R]. During a twelve-week analysis, 120 patients with cognitive disabilities were given two dose regimens of Rhodiola. A highly statistically significant improvement was found and exhibited in physical and cognitive performance amongst all participants with no adverse effects.
Mood & Depression
Demonstrated in several different mechanisms, Rhodiola has shown to be quite effective in reducing mild to moderate symptoms of depression and mood related anxiety. In a double-blind placebo controlled trial patients suffering from moderate depression were given two doses of Rhodiola rosea at 340mg per day. The study concluded that the Rhodiola can anti-depressant effects and significantly improved overall overall mood state over a six week trial period [R].
Rhodiola Rosea Dosage
Nearly all clinical studies evaluating safety and efficacy of Rhodiola Rosea used a standardized extract, by the name of SHR-5, extract which typically contains a 3:1 ratio 3% rosavins and 1% salidroside. Typical amounts of supplementation range from 150-600mg per day, to replicate clinical effects improving mood state, fatigue, and relieving stress and anxiety.
The Benefits Of Rhodiola Rosea: Takeaway
In a fast-paced ecosystem and society, we’re naturally prone to high levels of stress induced fatigue and anxiety. Rhodiola proves to be effective at relieving several stress related factors such as mental fatigue and can improve cognitive performance and mood state. This is particularly valuable when your stress has a negative impact on your mood and positive outlook. Rhodiola is a versatile herb, and through it’s proposed double mechanism of emotional soothing through it’s effect on the limbic system and cognitive stimulation through the cerebral and frontal cortex, supplementing daily can provide a positive impact in your vitality and mental and emotional well-being.
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