The Amazing Health Benefits of Rhodiola

The Amazing Health Benefits of Rhodiola

Dr Cesar Lara

Stress can wreak havoc on you and your body. Often, the effects of stress go beyond what we can even sense or physically see. When stress is unattended to it can weaken the immune system causing high blood pressure, depression, fatigue, anxiety, and even heart disease.

Rhodiola Rosea, also known as Tibetan Ginseng, artic root, or golden root, is a yellow-flowered succulent that grows in cold mountainous regions. For centuries, Rhodiola has been widely used in Eastern Europe and Asia for its ability to treat anxiety, stress, fatigue, and depression. Today, its benefits have extended to the US where it can also be taken as a dietary supplement to boost energy and increase focus.

The plant’s roots contain more than 140 active ingredients, two of which are rosavin and salidroside, well known for their antidepressant qualities.

Below you can find just a few of the benefits of this ancient healing herb-

1. Decrease Symptoms of Stress, Anxiety, and Depression

Anxiety is one of the most common mental illnesses across the world. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 1 in 13 globally (1) suffers from anxiety. However, only 36.9% of those suffering with anxiety receive treatment. While the reason for this being different to each individual, common reasons include concerns of medication side effects or addiction. Even so, out of those who do seek treatment nearly 70% of patients (2) with depression have little to no response from medications. Rhodiola offers a promising solution to those looking for a more natural or safe treatment.

Rhodiola is a natural tonic due to the adaptogenic properties found within its roots. Adaptogens work by creating a stronger resistance to stress helping your body adapt to it easier.

Studies have shown that doses of Rhodiola significantly improved symptoms of people with life and work- related stress (3) and continued to do so overtime.

Subsequently, this herb has also been found to reduce stress-induced cardiac damage (4).

One study in particular, tested the efficacy of Rhodiola as a treatment for depression (5) against the commonly prescribed antidepressant, Sertraline. The results found that the herb had similar effects to the drug but with less adverse effects. Its antidepressant abilities (6) increased endogenous β-endorphin levels while preventing stress-induced elevation of β-endorphin.

2. Improve brain function

Rhodiola can also improve overall brain function. A clinical trial (7) concluded that Rhodiola Rosea improved cognitive function of attention, alertness, accuracy, and memory in high school students, college students, and military cadets. This cognitive activation shows true potential as a treatment for attention deficit disorder (ADHD) (8), providing a great alternative to pharmaceuticals due to its ability to mentally stimulate the brain aiding in concentration, while also being emotionally calming.

3. Reduce Fatigue and Improve Exercise Performance

Fatigue can be caused by a number of things including stress, inadequate sleep, lack of exercise, or an improper diet, leaving us feeling mentally and physically drained.

A study (9), done on participants with chronic fatigue symptoms showed that a daily dosage of Rhodiola decreased symptoms of stress and fatigue while quality of life, mood, and concentration increased.

Rhodiola has also been used as an energy boost and can improve endurance exercise performance (10). It is believed that Vikings used this flowered plant to enhance their mental and physical endurance. Further evidence suggests that the former Soviet Union found Rhodiola an effective means to increasing performance (11) of their Olympians, soldiers, and astronauts.

4. Help Control Diabetes

Rhodiola research suggests that it has the potential to control diabetes. It has been shown to increase glucose transporters in the blood of diabetic rats consequently lowering blood sugar (12). However, current research has yet to prove the effects on humans.

5. Anti-Cancer Properties

Salidroside, a compound found within the Rhodiola genus, may have indicated neuroprotective and anticancer abilities in vitro studies. Salidroside was found to demonstrate cell cycle arrest and apoptosis in human breast cancer cells making it promising for breast cancer treatment (13). Other biological activities of Rhodiola for its anti-cancer effects are being investigated further for cancer chemoprevention (14).

How to get it?

The extract is available in tablet, capsule, and powder forms as well as tea or tinctures. It is important to look for third party certifications such as the USP or NSF seal as this supplement is at risk of adulteration. Supplements should have a standardized amount of 3% rosavins and 1% salidrosides. Single daily doses can range from 200-600mg depending on the sought after effects. Whether it be performance- enhancing or improving symptoms of stress, fatigue, and depression it is best to start at around 200-300mg daily and see how your body reacts before increasing your dose

While western practices may lack substantial human research, this ancient energy- enhancing medicinal plant is no doubt one to look out for. If used regularly and properly, Rhodiola rosea can encourage and support your body’s response to physical, emotional, and mental stress leaving your mind and body balanced.

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