Rhodiola Rosea extract supplement benefit, side effects and dosage by Ray Sahelian, M.D., bestselling author of Mind Boosters and Natural Sex Boosters
March 20 2014

Rhodiola rosea herb grows in the Arctic regions of eastern Siberia. This herb is a popular plant in traditional medical systems in Eastern Europe and Asia. Russians have drunk rhodiola tea for centuries as an energy booster. Russian and Chinese scientists have researched the benefits of the root for several decades.
    Dozens of species of rhodiola plants grow wild in nature. The root has a reputation for stimulating the nervous system, fighting depression, enhancing work performance, decreasing fatigue, and reducing high altitude sickness. This herb has been categorized as an adaptogen by Russian researchers due to its observed ability to increase resistance to a variety of chemical, biological, and physical stressors. The adaptogenic, cardiopulmonary protective, and central nervous system activities have been attributed primarily to its ability to influence levels and activity of monoamines and opioid peptides such as beta-endorphins. There have been claims that rhodiola enhances sexuality. Consider Passion Rx and Mind Power Rx which both include rhodiola in the formula. Passion Rx is a very popular and highly effective sexual enhancement product while Mind Power Rx helps with focus, mental energy, alertness, and mood enhancement.


Rhodiola Rosea extract, full spectrum, 30 Tablets
Full Spectrum Rhodiola rosea root combines an extract standardized to 0.8% rosavin with whole rhodiola root extract, providing a broad spectrum of constituents.

Rhodiola rosea root is a legendary adaptogenic tonifier that comes from the polar arctic regions of eastern Siberia. Among traditional people it is highly valued as a strengthening tonic to increase physical and mental stamina.


 

 

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Supplement Facts:
Rhodiola root extract (standardized to 0.8% salidrosides and 0.8% rosavins)

Suggested Use:  One tablet a few days a week, preferably in the morning a few minutes before breakfast.

Mind Power Rx - Formulated by Ray Sahelian, M.D.

This natural brain enhancer is a sophisticated cognitive formula with rhodiola extract and a dozen brain herbs and nutrients. It combines a delicate balance of brain circulation agents and neurotransmitter precursors with powerful natural brain chemicals that support healthy: These pills enhance memory and mood, mental clarity, concentration, alertness and focus. Why use all the individual herbs and nutrients separately -- at great expense -- when you can try this excellent combination?
   The herbs in this formula include: Ashwagandha, Bacopa,Ginkgo biloba, Ginseng, Mucuna pruriens, Rhodiola rosea root extract, and Reishi.  The nutrient and vitamin composition includes Acetyl-l-carnitine, Carnitine, Carnosine, Choline, DMAE, Methylcobalamin, Pantothenic acid, tyrosine, and vinpocetine.

 

Benefit of rhodiola rosea root extract and medical uses
The full benefits of rhodiola herb are still being investigated. In the meantime I have listed  below a few benefits that have been evaluated thus far.

Antioxidant and organ protection
Rhodiola root may protect hypoxia-induced pancreatic injury in two ways. (Hypoxia means low oxygen supply.) It prevents hypoxia-induced biological changes by increasing intracellular oxygen diffusion and efficiency of oxygen utilization. Alternatively, it reduces hypoxia-induced oxidative damage by its antioxidant activities. However, when exhaustive exercise is performed, this herb may not provide much protection.

The influence of supplementation with Rhodiola rosea extract on selected redox parameters in professional rowers.
Int J Sport Nutr Exercise Metabolism. 2009.
This double-blinded study included 22 members of the Polish Rowing Team who received 100 mg of R. rosea extract twice daily for 4 wk and compared to a placebo group. At the beginning and end of the study, participants performed a 2,000-m maximum test on a rowing ergometer. Superoxide dismutase activity, glutathione peroxidase activity, and thiobarbituric-acid-reactive substances concentrations, creatine kinase activity and total antioxidant capacity were measured in plasma samples, lactate levels were determined in capillary blood samples, and uric acid concentrations were measured in serum. After supplementation, the total plasma antioxidant capacity was significantly higher in the supplemented group than in the placebo group, and superoxide dismutase activity in erythrocytes directly after and 24 hr after the ergometry was significantly lower in athletes receiving the herbal extracts than in the placebo group. Supplementation increased antioxidant levels in the plasma of professional rowers but had no effect on oxidative damage induced by exhaustive exercise.

Rhodiola rosea as a treatment for anxiety disorder
There are several herbs and nutrients that are helpful for anxiety including kava, passion flower, 5-HTP, tryptophan, ashwagandha, and others. Perhaps rhodiola rosea could be an additional herb to consider. It is possible that high dosages of rhodiola extract could cause overstimulation and insomnia, thus aggravating anxiety. If a person has anxiety, it is worthwhile to explore the different natural treatment options.

A pilot study of Rhodiola rosea (Rhodax) for generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).
J Altern Complement Med. 2008. Department of Psychiatry, University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA.
Ten participants with a DSM-IV diagnosis of GAD, recruited from the UCLA Anxiety Disorders Program and between the ages of 34 and 55, were enrolled in this study. Participants received a total daily dose of 340 mg of rhodiola rosea extract for 10 weeks. Treated individuals showed significant decreases in mean Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale scores. Side effects included dizziness and dry mouth. Significant improvement in generalized anxiety disorder symptoms was found with rhodiola rosea extract.

Rhodiola benefit in cancer
Rhodiola rosea root extract shows some promise in this area. Anti-tumor and anti-metastatic effects of an official extract of Rhodiola rosea were established in experiments on inbred and noninbred mice and rats with transplantable NK/Ly tumor, Ehrlich's adenocarcinoma, melanoma B16 and Lewis lung carcinoma. Application was followed by an increase in survival.
   Oral administration of rhodiola rosea extract to a small group of 12 patents with superficial bladder carcinoma improved the characteristics of the urothelial tissue integration (bladder wall cells), parameters of leukocyte integrins and T-cell immunity.

Cardiac benefit
Rhodiola capsules decrease the oxygen consumption of myocardium and oxygen consumption index in anesthetic dogs, decrease the coronary artery resistance, but have no marked effect on the coronary artery blood flow. The capsules also have the function of decreasing blood pressure and slowing heart rate. However, rhodiola use in cardiac patients has not been tested and for the time being the benefit of rhodiola in those with heart disease is not known. I personally would not recommend rhodiola to heart patients since it may have stimulating properties.

Diabetes and blood sugar
BMC Complement Altern Med. January 2014. Antihyperglycemic action of rhodiola-aqeous extract in type1-like diabetic rats.

Rhodiola rosea and exercise, physical exertion
Acute rhodiola rosea intake may improve exercise capacity but  there have been conflicting reports as to whether the use of rhodiola herb improves athletic performance. Some studies have shown benefit, others have not.
 
Acute Rhodiola rosea intake can improve endurance exercise performance.
Int J Sport Nutrition Exercise Metabolism. 2004.
The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of acute and 4-week Rhodiola intake on physical capacity, muscle strength, speed of limb movement, reaction time, and attention. A double blind placebo-controlled randomized study was performed, consisting of 2 sessions (2 days per session). Day 1: One hour after acute intake (R, 200 mg Rhodiola rosea extract containing 3% rosavin + 1% salidroside plus 500 mg starch) or placebo. Speed of limb movement (plate tapping test), aural and visual reaction time, and the ability to sustain attention were assessed. Day 2: Following the same intake procedure as on day 1, maximal isometric knee-extension torque and endurance exercise capacity were tested. Following a 5-day washout period, the experimental procedure was repeated, with the treatment regimens being switched between groups. Subjects underwent sessions 3 and 4, identical to Phase I, separated by a 4-week rhodiola intake, during which subjects ingested 200 mg rhodiola or placebo per day.  PHASE I: Compared with placebo, acute rhodiola intake in Phase I increased time to exhaustion from 16 min to 17 min. Accordingly, VO2peak and VCO2peak increased during rhodiola compared to Placebo. Pulmonary ventilation tended to increase more during rhodiola than during P. All other parameters remained unchanged. Four-week rhodiola intake did not alter any of the variables measured. Acute intake can improve endurance exercise capacity in young healthy volunteers.

Rhodiola herb for fatigue
A randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-group study of the standardised extract shr-5 of the roots of Rhodiola rosea in the treatment of subjects with stress-related fatigue.
Planta Med. 2009.
A total of 60 individuals were randomised into two groups, one of which received four tablets daily of SHR-5 extract (576 mg extract/day), while a second received four placebo tablets daily. No serious side effects that could be attributed to the extract were reported. Our interpretation shows that repeated administration of Rhodiola rosea extract SHR-5 exerts an anti-fatigue effect that increases mental performance, particularly the ability to concentrate, and decreases cortisol response to awakening stress in burnout patients with fatigue syndrome.

Comments: Many herbs provide benefits for fatigue since they are able to improve metabolism and provide more energy, but their effects may not last forever. For this reason, I suggest you use rhodiola only for brief periods and take breaks from use.

The purpose of this study conducted at Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Belgium. was to two-fold. To investigate the effect of acute and long term 4-week rhodiola rosea intake on physical capacity, muscle strength, and reaction time. During the acute phase of the study, subjects were given 200-mg of rhodiola rosea extract and the results compared a few days later when they were given placebo pills. Subjects given the plant had slightly more stamina. The time to exhaustion during exercise was 17.2 minutes compared to 16.8 min on placebo. Also, lung ventilation capacity improved during rhodiola treatment. In a second phase of the study, subjects subjects ingested 200 mg for 4 weeks. The results showed that there was no difference in stamina when compared to placebo.
   Dr. Sahelian comments: It appears that rhodiola rosea intake for a day or two can improve endurance exercise capacity, but long term use does not make much of a difference. Practically speaking, it would make sense to take breaks from use. Perhaps this recommendation could also apply to ginseng and other adaptogens.

Memory and learning
Studies with mice do not show rhodiola rosea to have much of an effect on memory.

A randomized trial of two different doses of a SHR-5 Rhodiola rosea extract versus placebo and control of capacity for mental work.
Phytomedicine. 2003.
A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-group clinical study with an extra non-treatment group was performed to measure the effect of a single dose of standardized SHR-5 Rhodiola rosea extract on capacity for mental work against a background of fatigue and stress. An additional objective was to investigate a possible difference between two doses, one dose being chosen as the standard mean dose in accordance with well-established medicinal use as a psychostimulant / adaptogen, the other dose being 50% higher. Some physiological parameters, e.g. pulse rate, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, were also measured. The study was carried out on a highly uniform population comprising 161 cadets aged from 19 to 21 years. The study showed a pronounced anti-fatigue effect with rhodiola rosea herb. No significant difference between the two dosage groups was observed. There was a possible trend in favor of the lower dose in the psychometric tests. No such trend was found in the physiological tests.

Availability over the counter, without a prescription
Rhodiola rosea herb is sold in capsule, tablet, and tea form. Dosage ranges from 100 to 600 mg a day. It is also available in various extracts. When taken as an extract, the daily dosage of rhodiola would be less. It is difficult to give exact dosages that would apply to everyone since there are quite a number of different rhodiola supplements on the market, and each has a different extract potency. Some of these rhodiola rosea extracts include
0.8 percent rosavins and 0.8 percent salidrosides, 2 percent rosavins and 1 percent salidrosides, 3 percent rosavins and 2 percent salidrosides, 3 percent rosavins, 5 percent rosavins, 1 percent salidrosides, 3 percent salidrosides,

Stress and mental fatigue
Rhodiola may be helpful in increasing energy and decreasing mental fatigue. The objective of this study was to investigate its stimulating and normalizing effect in foreign students during a stressful examination period. The study was performed as a double-blind, randomized and placebo-controlled with low repeated dose regime. Rhodiola and placebo were taken for 20 days by the students during an examination period. The physical and mental performance were assessed before and after the period, based on objective as well as on subjective evaluation. The most significant improvement in the rhodiola group was seen in physical fitness, mental fatigue and neuro-motoric tests. The self-assessment of the general well-being was also significantly better in the rhodiola group.

This was another study with doctors working night shift at a hospital. The aim was to investigate the effect of repeated low-dose treatment with a standardized extract SHR/5 of rhizome rhodiola rosea on fatigue during night duty among a group of 56 young, healthy physicians. The effect was measured as total mental performance calculated as Fatigue Index. The tests chosen reflect an overall level of mental fatigue, involving complex perceptive and cognitive cerebral functions, such as associative thinking, short-term memory, calculation and ability of concentration, and speed of audio-visual perception. A statistically significant improvement in these tests was observed in the rhodiola group during the first two week period. No side-effects were reported for either treatment noted. These results suggest that rhodiola can reduce general fatigue under certain stressful conditions.

Weight loss
Q.
Does rhodiola rosea extract help with weight lose, burn fat?
   A. I'm not aware of research regarding this effect, but it is possible that it may slightly curb appetite in some people.


What's in rhodiola rosea herb?
There are dozens of substances in this plant and it is difficult to say which are the active ingredients. Some of these include rosavin, rosin, and rosarin, salidroside and lotaustralin.
   The dried rhizomes contain 0.05% essential oil with the main chemical classes: monoterpene hydrocarbons (25%), monoterpene alcohols (23%) and straight chain aliphatic alcohols (37%). n-Decanol (30%), geraniol (12%) and 1,4-p-menthadien-7-ol (5%) were the most abundant volatiles detected in the essential oil, and a total of 86 compounds were identified. Geraniol was identified as the most important rose-like odor compound besides geranyl formate, geranyl acetate, benzyl alcohol and phenylethyl alcohol. Floral notes such as linalool and its oxides, nonanal, decanal, nerol and cinnamyl alcohol highlight the flowery scent of rose root rhizomes.

What are the active ingredients in rhodiola rosea? Are rosavins the same as rosavin?
   Some of the active ingredients are rosavins which include rosavin, rosin and rosarin. The herb also has rosiridin and salidroside. Rosavin is a glycoside to be one of the compounds responsible for the antidepressant and anxiolytic actions of this plant, along with salidroside. Rosavin is also the trademark of an extract from the plant Rhodiola rosea owned by Ameriden International, Inc.


Dr. Sahelian's experience
I have tried rhodiola rosea extract for a few days and I noticed improved alertness and mood, being more talkative, better motivation, and overall sense of wellbeing.

Rhodiola rosea side effects, safety, risk
As with many herbs that increase energy, too high a rhodiola rosea dose can cause side effects. These may include restlessness, irritability, and insomnia. A possible adverse reaction on high doses is increased heart rate. A rare side effect on very high doses could include heart palpitations. It is possible that high doses could increase blood pressure but I have not seen extensive research. Many herbs that have some stimulant properties could influence blood pressure.

I recently started taking rhodiola herb on the advice of my homeopath. After 2 weeks of taking it I developed atrial fibrillation. Have you any knowledge of rhodiola herb being associated with the onset of atrial fibrillation?
    There are some reports that the regular use of this herb could cause heart rhythm disturbances.

Research studies
Experimental analysis of therapeutic properties of Rhodiola rosea and its possible application in medicine
Medicina . 2004.
Biologically active substances salidroside, rosin, rosavin, rosarin and tyrosol, which are mainly found in rhodiola root, demonstrate therapeutic effect. These active components effect the central nervous system by increasing the ability to concentrate, the mental and physical power; they are efficient in the asthenic states and improve general resistance of the cells and the organism against the harmful outer influence. They also prevent the heart system from stress and arrhythmias, and posses some antioxidant activity.  Some preclinical and clinical data of the rhodiola root preparations are discussed in the survey. The interaction of rhodiola root with other medicines, its usage and effect, recommended doses, and its side effects are also reviewed in the paper. Some data confirm that Rhodiola rosea preparations reduce the growth of malignant tumors and metastases in the liver.

Emails
Q. Following a parasitic infection and tick fever, I started taking rhodiola herb at a low dose - 100 mg in the AM and 100 mg before lunch of Amerinden's Rosavin - to treat the chronic fatigue that followed the illness. Initially, the herb was like a miracle for me. For the first time in years I actually felt normal - increased energy, concentration, just joy for life. After about 3 weeks though, the beneficial effects seem to pretty much be gone and the fatigue has returned. I would like to regain the initial sense of well-being I felt but am reluctant to up the rhodiola dose.
   A. You present an interesting and informative observation. One of the reasons "adaptogens" such as ginseng and rhodiola are not taken daily for prolonged periods is due to overstimulation of the system or other problems that occur with chronic use. It is possible that the dose is too high and it is causing a shallower sleep leading to tiredness the next day or chronic use is having some kind of negative effect on your body. It is generally best to take a break from rhodiola herb, ginseng, and other stimulating herbs every one to two weeks. I personally do not take the same herb for more than one week at a time without taking a break. I have not taken rhodiola herb for more than 5 days in a row.

Q. Shouldn't rhodiola rosea extract have a contraindication for individuals taking antidepressants?
   A. Many herbs that have stimulant type properties, such as rhodiola extract and ginseng, may interact with antidepressants, but generally not in a significant manner if the dosage of the herbs is very low. If the dosage is higher, overstimulation, insomnia, and restlessness are possible.

Q. Question to Dr. Sahelian from the editor of a magazine regarding Optygen, which has cordyceps and rhodiola rosea.
   A. As to Optygen, I did take a look at the website. Basically, rhodiola rosea has been used extensively in Russia by athletes and there's been a lot of research there showing rhodiola rosea is able to fight fatigue and stress. There was a study with cordyceps (brand name CordyMax) that did not show improvement in cycling endurance. In order to say for sure whether this product works, we will need a full study which is quite expensive. Therefore, we can say that some of the ingredients in Optygen may be helpful, but we can't say for sure whether the product itself will be found to be proven helpful in studies. Also, the dose could make a difference. Too low a dose may not work, while too high a dose may cause excessive stimulation and disturb sleep which as we all know can lead to exhaustion. The bottom line: People who wish to take this product can give it a try and see if it works in their case.

Q. Is Arctic root the same as rhodiola rosea? Is Arctic root better than other forms of rhodiola extract?
   A. The common name for rhodiola is Golden Root. Arctic Root is a trademarked product name, of many years, produced by Swedish Herbal Institute and developed by Georg Wikmann in the mid 1960's. Since Arctic Root rhodiola has not been compared head to head in human studies with other forms of rhodiola extracts sold on the market, one cannot say that Arctic Root provides greater or worse health benefit than other rhodiola extracts sold over the counter. However, we think companies that make a particular standardized herbal extract and then fund studies should be supported since they help advance herbal knowledge.

Dr Oz said in his December 6, 2010 show that Arctic Root helps to relieve stress and fatigue, and it is an extremely resilient plant that can endure almost no sun and very cold temperatures. Dr Oz said that he takes his in a shot of vodka.

Q. What does rhizome extract mean?
   A. Rhizome basically means root.

I would like to know why my rhodiola supplement bottle instructions states to use it twice a day, usually before breakfast and dinner on an empty stomach. Can you tell me what the reason is for 2 separated doses instead of taking it once a day?
    There are many rhodiola products on the market and they have different instructions written on the bottle in terms of how to use this herb. There are several reasons for this. Often not enough human research is available to determine the best way to take, the best timing, and the ideal dosage of these herbal supplements. Also, some of the instructions on bottles of supplements are not written by doctors or herbal specialists, but are written by company staff, marketers, promoters, or others with no nutritional knowledge, who may have no clue on how to take supplements and thus will write the instructions on dosage and usage based on little solid scientific evidence or practical knowledge. As a general rule, we prefer rhodiola being taken once in the morning but there are others with different opinions. Certain herbs and supplements can cause insomnia if taken late in the day.

I would like to know if rhodiola rosea is a MAO inhibitor supplement. Could I take it along with Phenylalanine (500 mg each /day)?
    Thus far there is no indication that this herb has MAO A or B inhibition potential. As to taking it with other supplements, it is best to learn how each one works by itself before combining, and when doing so one needs to use lower dosages.

I live in the Netherlands and ran into your site. There was one site that mentioned that this herb shouldn't been taken when one also takes triptans in case of migraines. Is this your experience as well or does it depend on the dosage?
   We did a Medline search and did not find such studies regarding the use of this herb in cases of combining with triptans. It is often a good idea to begin with low dosages when supplements are added to a medication regimen.