Rhodiola rosea is a popular plant in traditional medical systems in Eastern Europe and Asia with a reputation for stimulating the nervous system, decreasing depression, enhancing work performance, eliminating fatigue, and preventing high altitude sickness.
Rhodiola rosea 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. Its claimed benefits include antidepressant, anticancer, cardioprotective, and central nervous system enhancement. Research also indicates great utility in asthenic conditions (decline in work performance, sleep difficulties, poor appetite, irritability, hypertension, headaches, and fatigue) developing subsequent to intense physical or intellectual strain. The adaptogenic, cardiopulmonary protective, and central nervous system activities of Rhodiola rosea have been attributed primarily to its ability to influence levels and activity of monoamines and opioid peptides such as beta-endorphins.
Rhodiola rosea extract is valuable as an adaptogen, to increase the body's ability to deal with a number of psychological and physiological stresses. Of particular value is the theoretical role for Rhodiola in increasing the body's ability to take up and utilize oxygen - an effect similar to that of Cordyceps which may explain some of the non-stimulant “energizing” effects attributed to the plant. Rhodiola rosea has long been known as a potent adaptogen. Adaptogens are natural plant substances that increase the body's non-specific resistance, normalize the functions of the body, and are entirely safe (no side effects). It is believed that adaptogens work by increasing the ability of cells to manufacture and use cell fuel more efficiently. The main effects of adaptogens are an increased availability of energy during the day, a reduction of stressed feelings, increased endurance, greater mental alertness, and deep and restful sleep. Also, adaptogens significantly accelerate the recovery process after illness. The author of this article was ill for many years, and became weaker and weaker, despite trying a variety of medicines and supplements. Doctors could not diagnose the illness, but probably it was an autoimmune disorder, with too many symptoms to name. One day one of my friends had sent me roots of Rhodiola rosea from Moscow (Russia) and advised me to prepare Rhodiola water tea to drink. After some trial and error, I found this Siberian root worked better than anything else I had tried; and it increased the effectiveness of other supplements as well. I decided to search to find out more about this wonderful herbal adaptogen.
Rhodiola rosea has been shown to shorten recover time after prolonged workouts, to increase attention span, memory, strength, and anti-toxic action. Rhodiola rosea extract increases the level of enzymes, RNA, and proteins important to muscle recovery after exhaustive exercise. It has also been shown to increase the levels of beta-endorphin in blood plasma which helps prevent the hormonal changes indicative of stress. This effect has also been linked to maintaining an increased cardiac output and subsequently having a cardioprotective effect. Studies using proofreading tests have demonstrated that Rhodiola rosea enhances memorization and concentration ability over prolonged periods. Finally, Rhodiola has been shown to increase anti-tumor activity by increasing the body's resistance to toxins.