Rhodiola Rosea Extract Review
Rhodiola Rosea is an herbal ingredient popularized by Chinese medicine and Scandinavian tradition. Find out everything you need to know about Rhodiola rosea’s neuroprotective qualities today in our guide.
What is Rhodiola Rosea?
Rhodiola Rosea is a Scandinavian herb that is purported to boost your physical and cognitive vitality. It’s a common herb in traditional Chinese medicine, where it’s often used to treat symptoms like fatigue and exhaustion.
The herb goes by a number of different names, including Rosavin, Rosenroot, Rhodiola Rhizome, Golden Root, Rhidola, and Arctic Root.
Rhodiola rosea is one of several major species of Rhodiola. Other popular Rhodiola-based supplements include rose essential oil, rosmarinic acid, roselle, and scutellaria baicalensis. None of these supplements contain Rhodiola rosea – so don’t get confused.
The plant grows naturally in cold climates throughout the world and is a perennial flowering plant. Key growing regions include most of the Arctic, most of North America, and the mountains of Central Asia. The plant has also been observed growing in mountainous parts of Europe.
Scientific testing has shown that Rhodiola rosea may have neuroprotective benefits and can also “promote longevity” (which basically means it’s associated with living a longer, healthier life).
Scientific testing has also shown that Rhodiola rosea is effective at treating physical symptoms of exhaustion or weakness. However, the majority of studies that involve Rhodiola rosea’s treatment of physical exhaustion symptoms involve obese, out-of-shape individuals. Studies involving trained athletes typically do not lead to the same conclusions.
There are also some questions over how effective Rhodiola rosea actually is as a neuroprotective agent: more studies need to be performed before the results are conclusive.
Nevertheless, early evidence shows that Rhodiola rosea can be an effective treatment for physical and mental exhaustion.
How Does Rhodiola Rosea Work?
Rhodiola rosea appears to have a number of different methods of action pertaining to each of its unique benefits. Those methods include:
— Untrained persons who take Rhodiola rosea appear to be able to reduce symptoms of physical exhaustion by accessing Rhodiola rosea’s acute ergogenic effect
— The neuroprotective effects of Rhodiola rosea appear to be linked to its effectiveness as an antioxidant. The supplement appears to target toxins in the brain, helping to rid your brain of dangerous free radicals.
— At the same time, Rhodiola rosea may be able to improve your mood by acting as a serotonergic compound (which means that it increases serotonin levels). It also reduces corticosteroids.
— Finally, some studies have indicated that Rhodiola rosea can increase longevity by up to 20%. This effect appears to be linked to caloric restriction (when you eat a little less than you need, you can live longer). However, researchers claim that there may be other secondary mechanisms they’re not yet aware of.
How to Use Rhodiola Rosea
When scientists study the effects of Rhodiola rosea, they typically use an extract that contains 3% rosavins and 1% salidroside. This extract is commonly referred to as SHR-5.
If you’re looking for Rhodiola rosea supplements, you’ll find a wide range of doses available. Symptoms have been reported as doses as low as 50mg.
If you’re taking Rhodiola rosea for anti-stress and anti-fatigue, however, then you’ll typically see supplements ranging from 300mg to 700mg per serving.
Higher doses of Rhodiola rosea appear to be ineffective past 700mg.
Scientific Evidence for Rhodiola Rosea
Rhodiola rosea has been the subject of dozens of studies over the years. Here are some of the notable studies on Rhodiola rosea and their conclusions:
2012 Study Shows Rhodiola Extract Leads to “Significant Improvements” in Dysfunction and Fatigue
One of the largest studies on Rhodiola rosea took place in 2012 and was published in Phytotherapy Research. 101 subjects received 200mg of Rhodiola extract (equivalent to 300-1000mg of root) twice daily for 4 weeks. All participants had existing life and work-related stress. After taking the supplement, these participants were able to reduce dysfunction and fatigue associated with stress. Researchers also noted “significant improvements” in social and work function “secondary to reduced fatigue and improved mood.”
2004 Study Shows Rhodiola Rosea May Improve Endurance Exercise Performance
In a 2004 study, healthy and active adults received a dose of 100mg of Rhodiola extract for 4 weeks. These individuals were observed to experience improvements in time to exhaustion and VO2 max. Researchers also tested participants for their attention and reaction time and found they were unaffected. The study was published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism.
2000 Study Shows Rhodiola Improves Test Scores by 8.4%
Researchers tested 40 male participants who took Rhodiola rosea for 2 to 4 weeks. Subjects were aged 13-17 and 18-29. The participants who took 100mg of SHR-5 (Rhodiola extract) improved their neuromotoric fitness by 8.4% compared to a placebo group. Participants were assessed based on their ability to draw a maze from memory. That study was published in the April 2000 issue of Phytomedicine.
Military Cadets Reduce Physical and Mental Fatigue with Rhodiola Rosea
A double blind study on military cadets showed that two different doses of SHR-5 Rhodiola extract reduced mental and physical fatigue in military cadets who were performing regular military night duties. Participants received 5 days of supplementation of 370mg or 555mg of SHR-5, after which their capacity for mental work was “significantly increased” relative to a placebo and their total fatigue was significantly reduced. That study was published in the March 2003 issue of Phytomedicine.
2000 Study Shows Rhodiola Rosea Reduces Fatigue in Physicians Performing Night Duty
The effects of Rhodiola rosea were studied on otherwise healthy physicians performing night duty. A low-dose (170mg) regimen of SHR-5 (Rhodiola extract) was shown to significantly reduce fatigue while improving performance on work-related tasks by 20%. 56 young, healthy physicians were measured in this study and no side effects were reported. The study was published in the October 2000 issue of Phytomedicine.
Nursing Students Increase Fatigue by Taking Rhodiola Rosea Extract
In contrast to the other studies listed above, this 2014 study from the University of Alberta showed that Rhodiola rosea actually worsened fatigue. That study involved nursing students between the ages of 18 and 55 who took Rhodiola rosea for 42 days. Researchers concluded that “this study indicates that among nursing students on shift work, a 42-day course of R. Rosea compared with placebo worsened fatigue; however, the results should be interpreted with caution.”
How to Buy Rhodiola Rosea
Rhodiola rosea grows naturally in northern climates around the world. However, harvesting these plants yourself is not an efficient way to get your daily dosage (they’re often in cold, mountainous, hard-to-reach places anyway).
Instead, there are plenty of Rhodiola rosea supplements you can buy online and from local supplement retailers.
Some of the popular products on the market today include:
— Gaia Herbs Siberian Rhodiola Rosea (60 Capsules): $16.67 on Amazon.com (contains 240mg of extract per serving)
— Dr. Mercola’s Rhodiola Extract (30 Capsules): $17.97 on Mercola.com (contains 340mg of extract per serving)
— Perfect Rhodiola Rosea Freeze Dried 100% Wild-crafted Siberian Rhodiola Rosea Root (60 Capsules): $21.95 on Amazon.com
— GNC Herbal Plus Rhodiola Extract (100 Capsules): $29.99 on GNC.com (contains 340mf of extract per serving)
Most studies on Rhodiola rosea extract have involved amounts between 200mg and 600mg. It’s recommended that you take a supplement with at least that amount per serving to enjoy the benefits of Rhodiola extract.