Rhodiola Rosea: What Makes It a Miracle Herb

Rhodiola is an herb that commonly grows in the cold and mountainous regions of Europe, Russia and some parts of Asia. Rhodiola rosea is the scientific name of rhodiola which is also known as “golden root” or “arctic root.”

Before it has become widely known as a food supplement, people in Russia and Scandinavian countries have already been using rhodiola for centuries to treat fatigue, anxiety and depression. In Eurasian traditional medicine, it is considered as a natural tonic or adaptogen that promotes good health, endurance, strength as well as physical and mental wellness. Most of its health benefits come from its roots which contain over 140 active compounds.

How does Rhodiola rosea Work?

One of the compounds present in the roots of rhodiola is SHR-5. Taking this extract consistently in low doses reduces fatigue and improves mental performance. Moreover, SHR-5 interacts with the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis, controlling the release of the stress hormone cortisol.

Another active and potent compound from the roots of rhodiola is salidroside. Salidroside is water soluble and can easily get into the different areas of the body including the urinary bladder. Once there, it performs a variety of physiological functions that hinder the growth of cancer cells.

Benefits of Rhodiola rosea

  1. Reduces the symptoms of depression.

Rhodiola rosea has antidepressant properties that can help reduce the symptoms of depression. One study conducted on 89 people with mild to moderate depression showed that those taking rhodiola pills experience a significant improvement in their emotional stability and self-esteem.

  1. Helps manage anxiety.

Certain compounds in the rhodiola roots also help people with generalized anxiety disorder.

  1. Alleviates fatigue.

The adaptogenic properties of rhodiola rosea help alleviate stress-related fatigue which causes unreasonable physical and mental tiredness. In a study participated by 60 people suffering from stress-related fatigue, respondents who received 576 mg of radiola daily in a four-week period have reduced symptoms of fatigue.

  1. Improves physical performance.

There’s also a promising effect of taking rhodiola to improve your overall physical performance. In a study that aimed to look at the effect of rhodiola on endurance exercise performance, participants were given 1.4 mg of rhodiola per pound one hour before a six-mile simulated trial race. Those who consumed rhodiola were able to finish the race significantly faster than the rest.

  1. Improves brain function.

Aside from a good night’s sleep and proper nutrition, rhodiola can also help improve your brain function. This was proven by one study conducted on 56 physicians working on night shifts. The physicians were randomly given either 170 mg of rhodiola or a placebo pill, to be taken daily for two weeks. Those who took rhodiola showed a 20% improved performance compared to the physicians who took the placebo pill.

Another study also supports the effect of rhodiola on mental wellness. This time, students were asked to take rhodiola supplements for 20 days. These students experienced improved quality of sleep and reduced mental fatigue. Additionally, their exam scores were 8% higher than students in the placebo group.

  1. Helps burn extra body fat.

Another incredible benefit of rhodiola rosea has to do with burning fats. Several animal studies show that rhodiola may reduce the visceral white adipose tissue as well as increase the hypothalamic norepinephrine, thereby preventing diet-induced obesity.

Moreover, rhodiola contains an active compound called rosavin which has been proven to trigger a fat-burning response. This compound stimulates an enzyme in the body responsible for breaking down fats stored in the belly area.

Taking rhodiola and combining it with exercise will give you a better fat-burning effect.

  1. Rhodiola rosea offers other benefits that many users already enjoy, but more evidence is needed to prove their claim:
  • Helps in anti-aging.
  • Is anti-cancer.
  • Reduces bad cholesterol level.
  • Helps improve irregular heartbeat.

Side Effects of Rhodiola rosea

Rhodiola rosea is generally safe if taken in its recommended dosages. However, it has potential side effects to some people, including:

  • dizziness
  • excessive saliva production
  • dry mouth
  • jitteriness

Moreover, there are safety precautions and warnings on its use by:

  • Pregnant and breastfeeding mothers – There’s no supporting research that proves how safe rhodiola is for pregnant and breastfeeding moms. It’s a good idea to stay on the safe side by avoiding it.
  • Patients with autoimmune diseases – Rhodiola may stimulate the immune system, causing autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) to worsen. However, this is just in theory and no study (yet) can support this.
  • Patients with diabetes – In theory, rhodiola might significantly decrease blood sugar levels which can have a negative effect on patients who are taking insulin and other medications for diabetes.

Interactions of Rhodiola rosea with other Substances

Rhodiola rosea has mild side effects and it also does not adversely interact with other drugs except in the following cases:

  • Psychotropic drugs – Even though there are no documented interactions between rhodiola and psychotropic drugs except for MAOIs, you should consult your prescribing physician if you intend to take these drugs along with rhodiola.
  • Anti-anxiety and antidepressant medications – Taking rhodiola while also taking medications for anxiety and depression may augment the effects of the drugs.
  • Others medications – Rhodiola may also interfere with diabetic and thyroid medications as well as birth control pills.

Dosage of Rhodiola rosea

Like many other herbs, Rhodiola rosea is available in different forms including tablet, capsule, dried powder and liquid extract. The recommended dosage varies depending on the form, brand and intended use.

Many take Rhodiola rosea extract in doses between 350 and 1500 mg daily. Lower doses from 8 to 300 mg daily have been shown to help reduce fatigue. For safety, it is recommended to limit your daily dose to less than 700 mg daily.

As a dietary supplement, Rhodiola rosea is usually available in capsule, tablet and extract. The recommended dosage for capsule varies, but this information is available in the label. For extracts, the recommended supplemental dose is around 250 to 700 mg per day, taken in 2 doses.

How to take Rhodiola rosea

As a rule of thumb, take Rhodiola rosea 15 minutes before meals. If taking high doses, it’s best to split it for better absorptions (like half dose for breakfast and the other half before dinner).

Cost of Rhodiola rosea

The average cost of 500 mg, 60 capsules of Rhodiola rosea is between $12 – $15. For extracts, you can get a 30 mL bottle for an average price of $15

Rhodiola supplements are at risk of adulteration so it’s best to buy them from an established brand. They may cost more but you can be assured of their quality. It’s also important to look for a brand that carries the USP or NSF seal. These are third-party organizations that ensure supplements are sold without impurities and that they contain what they claim.


Rhodiola rosea is indeed a miracle herb due to its long list of benefits and long history of being used as a traditional medicine. However, in some cases, certain side effects might appear. If that happens, contact your doctor immediately.