Rhodiola Rosea – Does it actually work?
When it comes to supplements, the standard of evidence for proving whether or not something works is often far too low. As such, it is safe to practice a bit of weariness when making buying decisions with supplements. While some are surely duds, there fortunately are some supplements with proven value. Rhodiola rosea is one such supplement.
- What is Rhodiola Rosea?
- What claims about Rhodiola have some scientific backing?
- How should you take Rhodiola?
- What is the best Rhodiola dosage?
What is Rhodiola Rosea?
Rhodiola is considered an Adaptogenic herb, meaning it helps your body adapt to various types of stress. These stressors can include physical stress from exercise, mental stress from school or work, or oxidative stress such as from an environmental irritant.
Rhodiola comes from a perennial flowering plant, native to northeasterner Europe and Asia. Historically, people in northern regions have used rhodiola for anxiety, fatigue, anemia, impotence, infections, headache, and depression related to stress.
Rhodiola Rosea is also known as:
- Arctic Root
- King’s Crown
- Golden Root
Which effects of Rhodiola are backed up with evidence?
Rhodiola Rosea can improve endurance exercise performance.
In the study “Acute Rhodiola rosea intake can improve endurance exercise performance.”, time to exhaustion increase between 2-7% and V02 max increased by around 4%
Rhodiola appears to increase ATP content in the mitochondria of muscle.
In the the study “Effect of extracts from Rhodiola rosea and Rhodiola crenulata (Crassulaceae) roots on ATP content in mitochondria of skeletal muscles.”, Rats given Rhodiola Rosea showed a 24% improvement in exhaustive swimming performance
Rhodiola appears to have some anti-depressant qualities.
In a study comparing Rhodiola to Sertraline (Zoloft), Rhodiola was shown to produce some anti-depressant effects, albeit less effective than Sertraline. Though the effects were positive but less pronounced than Sertraline, Rhodiola did have a lower side-effect profile, and overall showed less adverse effects than Sertraline.
A review study that looked at the results of various studies looking at antidepressant effects of Rhodiola concluded that more research is needed, as the preliminary findings show that Rhodiola quote “demonstrates multi-target effects on various levels of the regulation of cell response to stress, affecting various components of the neuroendocrine, neurotransmitter receptor and molecular networks associated with possible beneficial effects on mood.”
Rhdoiola helps mitigate exam induced stress and fatigue in college students, even at low doses.
A double blind, placebo controlled study of a low dose Rhodiola extract showed that “the most significant improvement in the SHR-5 group was seen in physical fitness, mental fatigue and neuro-motoric test,” and stated that increased doses would likely enhance these anti-stress effects.
Rhodiola Rosea supplements generally refer to the SHR-5 extract, but any other extract that contains 3% rosavins and 1% salidroside should suffice.
If you decide to try Rhdiola Rosea, here are the basic guidelines that are widely suggested:
- If aiming for regular use as an anti-fatigue, anti-stress compound, dosages as low as 50mg are considered safe and effective.
- In times where acute stress management are required, dosages ranging from 280-680 milligrams can be used.
I would err on the side of caution, and not go above that 680mg threshold, as you are likely to see diminished or even contradictory effects above that level.
Should you cycle Rhodiola? Yes.
As with any supplement, I do not suggest taking it all the time, forever.
Whether it be food, exercise, or a supplement, I believe that your body fares best when given variety. If something has an effect, that effect becomes blunted when the body senses it as something is always around. As such, Rhodiola Rosea and other bodily inputs are most effect when they are cycled on and off over time.
Moral of the story – if you take supplements, give yourself some time off now and then, and the results will likely be more sustainable in the long term.
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