Rhodiola Rosea Clinical Evidence

Phytomedicine. 
Shevtsov V et al. A randomized trial of two different doses of a SHR-5 Rhodiola rosea extract versus placebo and control of capacity for mental work. 2003 Mar;10(2-3):95-105. 

Topic: 
What is the most effective dose of Rodiola rosea to reduce mental fatigue?

Background:

A dose of 360 mg of Rodiola rosea has a well-established record of use as a psycho-stimulant. Would a dose 50% higher be more effective?

Study Type:

Human clinical intervention trial

Study Design:

Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel group

Subjects:

161 cadets, aged 19-21 years

Dosage:

360 mg or 540 mg, single dose

Results:

Subjects taking the Rhodiola rosea had AFI (anti-fatigue index) scores of 1.0195 for the higher dose, 1.0385 for the lower dose and 0.9046 for the placebo group. Both doses produced statistically significant reductions in fatigue but there was no significant difference between the two doses.

Conclusion:

“The study showed a pronounced antifatigue effect… This was statistically highly significant for both doses.” 

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Rhodiola rosea Mechanism of Action

Like schisandra, rhodiola is an adaptogen that brings greater balance to the body and helps control stress (including cortisol levels) and blood sugar while supporting the immune system. 

Rhodiola reduces tiredness and fatigue in two ways. First, it increases or helps maintain levels of ATP — a coenzyme involved in the production of energy at the cellular level. Second, as an adaptogen, it helps the body fight fatigue-inducing stress by bringing about greater homeostasis. 

HerbalGram: The Journal of the American Botanical Council. 

Brown RP, et al. Rhodiola rosea: A Phytomedicinal Overview. 2002; 56:40-52. 

Topic: 
Can R. rosea treat asthenia?

Background:

Asthenia — which includes such symptoms as fatigue, decreased productivity, insomnia, loss of appetite, irritable mood and headaches — can have psychiatric or physical causes (for instance from a temporary illness such as influenza).

Study Type:

Review paper

Dosage:

50 mg, 3 times daily, ranging anywhere from 10 days to 4 months

Results:

Patients treated with R. rosea responded favorably. In one study of 128 patients aged 17 to 55 years, R. rosea relieved fatigue, irritability, attention problems, headaches, weakness and other symptoms in 64% of cases, as measured by psychological tests and work productivity.

Conclusion:

“The authors have found that R. rosea can help patients with depressive syndromes, mental and physical fatigue (secondary to psychiatric and medical conditions), memory loss and cognitive dysfunction from a variety of causes, sexual dysfunction, and menopausal-related disorders.” 

Phytomedicine: International Journal of Phytotherapy and Phytopharmacology. 
Panossian A, Wikman G, and Saris J. Rosenroot (Rhodiola rosea): traditional use, chemical composition, pharmacology and clinical efficacy. 2010 Jun;17(7):481-93. 

Topic: 
What is the chemical composition, pharmacological activity, and traditional and official medicinal uses of Rhodiola rosea L.?

Background:

Rhodiola rosea (also called Golden Root, Roseroot, or Aaron’s Rod) is a plant that grows in cold regions worldwide. In Russia and Scandinavia it has been used in folk medicine to combat stress.

Study Type:

Review paper

Results:

The authors found that:

  • Approximately 140 compounds can be isolated from the roots and rhizome of the plant.
  • Clinical trials show efficacy against fatigue, improvement in mental performance (particularly concentration) in healthy subjects, and reduction of burnout in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome. R. rosea may also be effective for mild to moderate depression and generalized anxiety.
  • R. rosea does not interact with other drugs and is a safe treatment.

Conclusion:

Rhodiola rosea has robust traditional and pharmacological evidence of use in fatigue, and emerging evidence supporting cognition and mood.” 

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Rhodiola rosea Mechanism of Action

Rhodiola rosea increases levels of chemicals the brain needs for positive mood, calmness, and motivation — such as serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine — by inhibiting MAO (monoamine oxidase), the enzyme that breaks them down. Rhodiola’s antidepressant properties also enhance the effectiveness of neurotransmitters in three ways: 1. By increasing the permeability of the blood brain barrier to precursors of dopamine and serotonin, 2. Through an increase in the release of serotonin, and 3. Via in increase in the activity of the serotonin neurotransmitter system in the brain. As a result, stress-related symptoms including insomnia are improved. With better sleep, excessive cortisol levels are reduced. Rhodiola also protects the brain by reducing the secretion of corticotrophin releasing factor (CRF) under stress.