Rhodiola Rosea, also known as “the golden root,” an herb originating from Siberia and northwest China, is a dynamic herbal adaptogen with a diverse array of benefits that include helping body combat stress and fatigue, improving mental clarity, and boosting physical stamina and endurance. Studies have shown rhodiola to improve immune function and increase sexual energy.
Knowledge of rhodiola dates back thousands of years among various cultures. It can be found in the documents of the Greek physician Dioscorides circa 77 A.D., in which he discusses its medical uses. Rhodiola was also used by the Vikings as a strength and endurance boosts, and Chinese emperors would send expeditions to Siberia to bring it back to be prepared as a medicine.
Rhodiola rose to prominence in the US about 20 years ago when a husband and wife team of psychiatry professors discovered evidence that rhodiola was used by the Soviet Ministry of Defense to enhance military and athletic performance. For an herb to be that coveted by Soviet scientists, it must pack a powerful punch.
When we’re stressed out, our bodies accumulate different compounds that, over time, can induce physical and mental fatigue. Chris Kilham writes that rhodiola has been shown to “reduce various stress-induced chemicals in the body to normal levels.” More specifically, rhodiola reduces corticotrophin, or CRF, a substance that makes us feel more stressed than we already are, and taxes the body over time.
Stress causes mental and physical fatigue that can impair our cognitive and memory function. According to one study, rhodiola can significantly reduce stress-induced fatigue. Life Extension Magazine reports:
A number of studies have shown that rhodiola can dramatically reduce mental and physical fatigue under stressful conditions, by increasing the body’s energy levels. In one study, a low dose (170 mg/day) of a R. rosea extract was given to 56 young physicians on night call, when there is notable decrease in physical and mental performance.4Using measures of cognitive and memory function, such as associative thinking, short-term memory, calculation, and speed of audiovisual perception, the researchers found a statistically significant reduction of stress-induced fatigue after just two weeks of supplementation with rhodiola. No side effects of rhodiola were reported.
And when we’re stressed, our libidos often suffer, which doesn’t make it any easier to relax. Kilham points out two studies that show rhodiola’s restorative effects on sexual dysfunction:
While Rhodiola rosea is the subject of a number of successful Russian human clinical studies, two sexual studies stand out. Among forty women who suffered amenorrhea (loss of menses), daily administration of Rhodiola rosea extract for two weeks restored menses. Subsequently eleven of the women became pregnant. Among thirty-five men with erectile dysfunction, twenty-six experienced significantly improved sexual function, as a result of taking Rhodiola rosea extract for three months. Additionally, the men experienced normalization of prostatic fluid. Rhodiola rosea restores healthy sexual function in many cases.
Recent research also shows that rhodiola has antioxidant effects that protect cells of the nervous system. According to one study, rhodiola contains an active constituent called salidroside, which helps protect human neuron cells against oxidative stress.
There are many ways to incorporate rhodiola into your daily regimen, from supplement tablets to using the root to make a tea or extract. If you’re looking to take rhodiola in conjunction with other powerful adaptogens, we recommend Urban Moonshine’s Organic Energy Tonic, a delicious blend of roots, berries, barks and flowers. The herbs inside — rhodiola, ginseng, and fo ti — are used to boost stamina and endurance, restore mental alertness when fatigued, and support the body as a whole to maintain radiant health.
Medicine Hunter: http://www.medicinehunter.com/rhodiola
Life Extension Magazine: http://www.lifeextension.com/magazine/2007/12/report_nutraceutical/page-01
The Rhodiola Revolution: Transform Your Health with the Herbal Breakthrough of the 21st Century by Richard P. Brown, M.D. and Patricia L. Gebarg, M.D.