Author: Luke Sholl
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Rhodiola rosea: Definition, Benefits, Side Effects, and Dosage

What is Rhodiola rosea?

Favouring cold, alpine climates, Rhodiola rosea is a perennial plant that may have several wellness benefits. To learn more about this increasingly popular herbal supplement, keep reading.

What is Rhodiola rosea?

Above ground, Rhodiola rosea (also known as arctic root, golden root, and roseroot) has a rather unassuming appearance and, for the most part, doesn't seem to offer anything spectacular. However, it’s what lies beneath that’s primarily of interest.

Belonging to the Crassulaceae family, Rhodiola rosea grows wild in cold, mountainous regions, and is useful as a groundcover to protect soil integrity.

However, look past its usefulness in the garden, and you'll discover that the plant has a rich history of holistic use throughout Russia and Scandinavian countries. Indeed, the root of the plant is used in hopes of benefiting well-being, which has made it a popular herbal supplement.

But what is it about the Rhodiola root that makes it influential? The answer could lie in adaptogens—a term used to describe substances that may help to stabilise physical and mental well-being.

How does Rhodiola rosea work?

The compounds within Rhodiola are believed to work alongside the body's key biological processes to support homeostasis, leading some to claim that the root has adaptogenic qualities.

The science of adaptogens remains under review, but it's thought that such substances operate mainly through modulation of the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis.[1] This network of systems controls the release of cortisol, a neurochemical involved in the body's stress response. By potentially influencing the release and regulation of essential hormones, adaptogens could help the mind and body better deal with the impact of stress.

What are the benefits of Rhodiola rosea?

With golden root's potential mechanisms and formal details covered, it's time to move on to more practical applications. How exactly might Rhodiola influence well-being?

Rhodiola rosea and mood disorders

Anxiety and cognition are directly linked to the body's stress response, which led researchers at the University of Surrey to perform a controlled trial observing the effects of Rhodiola rosea on human participants. The study found that eighty "mildly anxious participants" showed a change “in self-reported anxiety, stress, anger, confusion and depression".[2]

However, we should note that the results of a non-placebo controlled study have certain limitations. That said, the researchers were confident that the changes were not the result of placebo effect, warranting the pursuit of "further investigation" to support the effects of Rhodiola for stress-related symptoms.

Rhodiola rosea and the immune system

The proposed adaptogenic nature of Rhodiola means its balancing influence could extend to the immune system.

Unfortunately, the immune system is an area of our body that is highly susceptible to stress, so any substance that can potentially restore equilibrium is worth investigating.

A 2013 study sought to understand the possible impact of Rhodiola on inflammation, a crucial mechanism of the immune system.[3] Researchers found compounds within Rhodiola—rosin, rosarin, and salidroside—to potentially display therapeutic links with inflammation.

Rhodiola rosea and fatigue

Over the years, Rhodiola has garnered a reputation among users for helping to fight fatigue, but a systematic review of the evidence found results were a little more ambiguous.[4] Researchers found that the herb may help enhance "physical performance and alleviate mental fatigue", but many studies were limited in their scope or control parameters.

However, the lack of evidence doesn't strictly mean the herb is ineffective. The review agrees that provisional results are encouraging, but "rigorously-designed" studies are needed to determine the plant's true efficacy.

What are the side effects of Rhodiola rosea?

A common theme throughout the studies highlighted above is a "favourable safety tolerability profile", implying that Rhodiola rosea is generally well-tolerated with few potential side effects.

However, you should still be aware that potential side effects include dizziness, dry mouth, and excessive saliva. You should also avoid Rhodiola if you have an autoimmune disorder. While there isn't concrete evidence that Rhodiola modulates the immune system, its proposed mechanism could worsen certain conditions.[5] If you're unsure about the suitability of Rhodiola extract for you, it's best to discuss the implications with your doctor.

How to take Rhodiola rosea

The most common forms of Rhodiola are capsules, tablets, and powdered extract. You can also brew the plant's root into a tea, but this may not be as effective as concentrated supplements. Regardless of the option you use, choosing high-quality products is paramount, as you'll want to ensure your Rhodiola supplements don't contain any additional or unwanted ingredients.

Dosing and frequency of consumption also vary depending on your existing wellness regime, so the best approach is to follow the manufacturer's guidelines. The final watch-out for taking Rhodiola rosea is its long-term suitability. Many studies have only examined the plant's short-term impact, so it's best to err on the side of caution and avoid taking supplements for longer than twelve weeks.

Rhodiola rosea: A versatile adaptogen

Preclinical studies suggest that the compounds inside Rhodiola rosea may have a beneficial influence on the body's stress response. However, knowing a potential interaction exists is only one piece of the scientific puzzle. Further investigation is needed to identify the exact mechanism of action and establish how Rhodiola extract could benefit mood, fatigue, inflammation, and more.

Despite the uncertainty surrounding the effectiveness of Rhodiola, it shows a favourable safety profile and works alongside several other natural wellness ingredients. So, provided you stick to products from trusted manufacturers, there's little reason not to give the plant's balancing influence a try.

Ready to experience a high-quality range of natural supplements? Then browse the Cibdol store to find out how the power of nature can support your wellness goals. Or, to learn more about the body's need for balance (homeostasis), visit our CBD Encyclopedia.

Sources

[1] Panossian A, Wikman G. Effects of adaptogens on the central nervous system and the molecular mechanisms associated with their stress-protective activity. Pharmaceuticals (Basel, Switzerland). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3991026/. Published January 19, 2010. Accessed April 8, 2022. [Source]

[2] J; CMBAPB. The effects of rhodiola rosea L. Extract on anxiety, stress, cognition and other mood symptoms. Phytotherapy research : PTR. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26502953/. Published 2015. Accessed April 11, 2022. [Source]

[3] Lee Y, Jung J-C, Jang S, et al. Anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective effects of constituents isolated from rhodiola rosea. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2013/514049/. Published April 16, 2013. Accessed April 11, 2022. [Source]

[4] Ishaque S, Shamseer L, Bukutu C, Vohra S. Rhodiola rosea for physical and mental fatigue: A systematic review. BMC complementary and alternative medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3541197/. Published May 29, 2012. Accessed April 11, 2022. [Source]

[5] Rhodiola. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/rhodiola. Published 2020. Accessed April 11, 2022. [Source]

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