Rhodiola rosea is a plant used for its health-giving properties. The root is harvested from this low-growing perennial plant that grows throughout the northern hemisphere in high elevations in Asia, Europe, and North America, and is native to the Himalaya. Other common names given to this plant are Arctic Root and Golden Root. The root has a rose-like fragrance and flavor, and is very astringent (drying) on the tongue. References to this plant for its health benefits are found as early as 77 A.D.
Throughout Russia and Asia, Rhodiola has been traditionally used as a tonic herb that increases physical and mental stamina, performance, and strength. It is considered an adaptogen, meaning it has the ability to help the body respond better to stress and is safe for long-term use. It most likely acts on the Hypothalamus-Pituitary-Adrenal axis to normalize adrenal function, improve energy, and increase overall health.
Rhodiola seems to primarily effect the nervous system, the immune system, and the HPA axis (adrenals). Most studies have focused on the physical and mental effects of Rhodiola. It has been studied on athletes, showing an increase in performance for most people. In one study 89% of participants showed increased speed & strength. Students are another category of people that have seen improvement when using this herb, improving memory, retention of information, and increasing attention span.
The primary reasons people take Rhodiola are to decrease stress, increase energy, enhance athletic and physical performance, combat fatigue – whether physical or mental, increase attention and focus, combat depression, and to increase immune system function. Rhodiola also acts as an antioxidant, anti-cancer (in animals, shown to inhibit tumor growth and decrease metastasis), and radio-protective; most of these properties having been indicated in in vitro (lab) studies. Therefore, it is often used as an adjunct in cancer treatment, for protecting the healthy cells from the effects of chemical and radiation exposure.
Rhodiola is also an herb commonly used to prevent and combat altitude sickness.
This herb can be made into an infusion (tea) and consumed, as it is in our Mental Clarity Tea: 1 Tbsp/cup hot water (just boiled) and steeped for 20 minutes. For the root alone, use 1 Tbsp/2 cups water for 20 minutes. As a tincture (liquid extract), the dosing is typically 2 dropperfuls (50-60 drops) 2-3 times/day. Capsules are generally taken at 2 twice/day.
If you find it a stimulating herb, as some people do, it is best to avoid later in the day (after 4 pm) to avoid insomnia. It may be too stimulating for certain constitutions and should be used with caution in those with high blood pressure and avoided for those with bipolar disorder.