What Is Rhodiola Rosea?
Rhodiola rosea is a stress-busting supplement that by goes by several names, including arctic root, roseroot, king’s crown and golden root. What does rhodiola do to the body to help make it more capable of dealing with stress?
As an “ergogenic aid” and an adaptogen— or a “natural herbal product that is non-toxic in normal doses, that produces a non-specific response, and that has a normalizing physiologic influence”— rhodiola is very helpful for improving both physical and mental energy and for fighting the negative effects of stress. It helps body adapt to stress by decreasing or preventing hormonal changes tied to prolonged stress. Research suggests that some of the ways it does this is by acting on beta-endorphins and opioid neuropeptides to enhance stress tolerance and by positively affecting other stress adaptation factors.
Rhodiola has been proven to have at least four major health benefits. The top rhodiola uses include:
Helping to lower the “stress hormone,” cortisol
Fighting depression and improving brain function
Supporting weight loss and helping to burn visceral / belly fat
Increasing energy and athletic performance, while reducing mental and physical fatigue
Studies have found that Rhodiola rosea contains more than 40 kinds of chemical compounds. Active constituents found within rhodiola that are responsible for its pharmacological effects include rosavin and salidroside. Rosavin is the only constituent unique to R. rosea within the Rhodiola plant family, while salidroside is common to most other rhodiola species.
Rosavin is found in higher concentrations than salidrosides, with approximately a 3:1 ratio within R. rosea. In animal studies it’s been found that rosavin contributes to rhodiola’s benefits by having antidepressant-like, adaptogenic, anxiolytic-like and stimulating effects.
Helps Burn More Belly Fat
Increases Energy and Athletic Performance
May Help Fight Physical & Mental Fatigue
Helps Lower Cortisol
Can Help Fight Depression and Improve Brain Function
Where Can You Find Rhodiola? Rhodiola Dosage & Types
When should you take rhodiola? And what is the ideal rhodiola rosea dosage?
Here’s what you need to know about rhodiola supplementation:
As a dietary supplement, rhodiola root extract is usually taken in capsule or tablet form. You may also take it as a tincture, but most people find capsules to be most convenient.
Look for Rhodiola rosea as either SHR-5 extract (or an equivalent extract) that has approximately 3 percent rosavins and 1 percent salidroside.
The recommended supplemental dose of Rhodiola rosea extract (containing rosavin) is around 250–700 milligrams total per day (typically split into 1–2 doses).
Randomized, controlled trials have studied a range of rhodiola doses for treating conditions such as depression and fatigue. Many use R. rosea extract in doses between 350–1500 milligrams daily. Doses as low as 8–300 milligrams/day have even been shown to help reduce fatigue. It’s recommended that you take no more than about 700 milligrams daily without speaking with a doctor first or being monitored.
For help with weight loss, studies have found that taking a combination of C. aurantium (bitter orange) and R. rosea helps to best prevent obesity and health problems caused by over-feeding.
Ideally, rhodiola should be taken about 15 minutes before meals. Higher doses should be split into two to help with absorption (such as one dose before breakfast and one before dinner).
According to the ancient practices of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurvedic medicine, herbs, roots and mushrooms are absorbed better when taken alongside a “warming herb” (like black pepper or long pepper) and with a healthy fat of some kind. Rhodiola supplement blends that contain these types of ingredients may be absorbed more efficiently, although this has not been studied thoroughly.
Taking rhodiola in fermented (pre-digested) form may also help with absorption. Check your chosen supplement for information about fermentation.
How to make Rhodiola rosea tea:
Another way to benefit from rhodiola is to drink Rhodiola rosea tea, traditionally used to help calm nerves, reduce anxiety and promote restful sleep. To prepare homemade rhodiola tea, you’ll first need to purchase rhodiola roots that have been dried and ground.
Start by steeping about five grams of rhodiola roots in hot water. Either use a steeper or pack tea bags with the root. Make sure the water is not very hot or boiling, keeping it no higher than 85 degrees Fahrenheit (boiling point is 212 degrees F). For the best results, steep the tea for about four hours.
To speed up this process, you can also use rhodiola tinctures and liquid extract, which can be added to warm water with lemon or another herbal tea, such as chamomile or green tea.
Potential Rhodiola Side Effects & Precautions
What are the side effects of rhodiola? Rhodiola has been found to be generally well-tolerated by most people, and, according to some studies, less likely to cause side effects than prescription drugs such as antidepressants. That being said, when rhodiola is taken orally it can potentially cause side effects like temporary dizziness and dry mouth. If these side effects persist, you should stop taking rhodiola. If you’re already taking medications and interested in trying rhodiola as an alternative, it’s best to speak with your doctor first before stopping any medication.
Overall, while some studies (and reviews) have found that rhodiola shows promise for offering many benefits, according to the National Institute of Health, “The quality of research is limited so firm conclusions about its effectiveness can’t be made.” Most researchers have reported that while R. rosea may have beneficial effects on physical performance, mental performance and certain mental health conditions, more research is still warranted.
Final Thoughts on Rhodiola
Rhodiola rosea is an adaptogen herb that is taken in extract and/or supplement form to help improve mental and physical tolerance to stress.
Rhodiola benefits include normalizing cortisol levels, helping with fat-burning and weight loss, fighting depression and anxiety, improving athletic performance and preventing or treating fatigue.
Rhodiola is well-tolerated and unlikely to cause side effects, but it may temporarly cause dry mouth or dizziness. The recommended dosage is between 250–500 milligrams taken once or twice daily (most studies use about 350–1500 milligrams daily).