The Complete Guide to Rhodiola
Rhodiola has been used in traditional medicine for centuries, particularly in Russia, Scandinavia, and other parts of Europe, to enhance endurance and treat a variety of mental health conditions.
Now, this adaptogenic herb has made its way into the mainstream as a dietary supplement, growing in popularity in the United States and around the world.
Keep reading to learn more about the benefits and uses of Rhodiola!
What is Rhodiola?
Rhodiola rosea, more commonly known as Rhodiola, is a plant that grows in the cold, mountainous regions of Europe and Asia.
Sometimes called “arctic root” or “golden root,” Rhodiola is an adaptogen—a plant that naturally helps the body adapt to stress. It’s no surprise that Rhodiola is used to make our bodies and minds more resilient, considering the fact that its seemingly inhospitable growing environment of high elevation, cold weather, and intense sun is the exact reason behind the medicinal plant's adaptogenic compounds.
With a long history of usage in traditional medicine as a treatment for conditions such as anxiety, fatigue, and depression, Rhodiola is now used as a dietary supplement for its mental and physical health benefits alike.
Rhodiola Health Benefits
While some preliminary research has been done on the benefits of Rhodiola, more scientific studies are needed to fully understand its benefits. That said, centuries of continued use certainly speak to its effectiveness!
As an adaptogen, Rhodiola is thought to increase the stress tolerance of the body and mind.
In one study, 118 people with stress-related burnout took 400 mg of Rhodiola every day for 12 weeks. After just the first week, researchers found improvements in the study participants’ burnout symptoms and stress levels.
Fatigue is more than just feeling tired; it’s extreme exhaustion, both mental and physical. Fatigue can be caused by a few different factors including stress, anxiety, illness, and insufficient sleep in general.
Rhodiola’s adaptogenic properties get to the source of fatigue by alleviating stress, boosting moods, and improving sleep for a better quality of life.
Reduce Symptoms of Depression
Depression is an all-too-common condition that can be caused by chemical imbalances in the brain. One suggested benefit of Rhodiola is its ability to balance the neurotransmitters in the brain, reducing symptoms of depression.
One study compared Rhodiola with sertraline, a commonly prescribed antidepressant. While the antidepressant still had more impactful results, Rhodiola also reduced symptoms of depression and had fewer side effects.
Boost Brain Function
By minimizing stress, fighting fatigue, and reducing symptoms of depression, it’s only logical that Rhodiola benefits the brain in the long term.
In fact, one study found that Rhodiola was able to boost learning abilities and memory function in mice. With its therapeutic properties, researchers are optimistic that Rhodiola can benefit cognitive function in humans, especially when it comes to slowing the progression of age-related diseases.
Enhance Athletic Performance
In addition to boosting mental health, Rhodiola has traditionally been used to increase endurance and work performance, especially in areas with high altitudes and harsh climates—and with good reason. By fighting fatigue and enhancing the body’s resilience to stress, Rhodiola can improve athletic performance and stamina.
In an animal study, researchers found that Rhodiola can improve muscle power and strength performance; in another study, participants reported that exercise felt a bit easier when taking Rhodiola.
How to Use Rhodiola
Unless you’re living in Siberia, it’s relatively rare to come across Rhodiola in its freshest form. That said, this adaptogenic herb is widely available in the form of store-bought dietary supplements.
There’s no official recommended dosage for Rhodiola, as the effective amount can typically vary between 100 and 400 mg daily according to an individual based on their reason for usage.
Whichever type of supplement you choose—capsules, tablets, tinctures, teas, or extracts—should come from a reputable brand with high-quality products.
Take Hilo Energize Gummies, for example. These vegan and gluten-free gummies are made from natural ingredients including beetroot (link to blog), Maca, Rhodiola, and lion’s mane to fight fatigue and enhance athletic performance. Just take two gummies before activity for a boost of non-jittery, caffeine-free energy.
While Rhodiola is a relatively safe supplement, it can cause mild to moderate side effects (though this is generally uncommon). For example, you may experience dizziness, dry mouth, excess saliva, headache, or an upset stomach.
Additionally, while improved performance during the day can lead to better sleep overall, Rhodiola’s stimulating effects may cause insomnia if taken too close to bedtime.
More research is needed about whether rhodiola is safe to use while pregnant or breastfeeding; rhodiola may also interfere with existing medications, especially for diabetes or thyroid issues.Ultimately, it’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor before adding new substances to your diet.