Can Rhodiola Fight Stress-Related Fatigue?

Health Benefits, Uses, and More

Rhodiola rosea may be effective for improving mood and alleviating depression.
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Also known as golden root or Arctic root, rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea) is an herb long used in traditional medicine in Russia and some European countries. Rhodiola is considered an adaptogen, a class of herbs said to help the body build resistance to stress.

Why Do People Use Rhodiola?

In alternative medicine, rhodiola is sometimes recommended for the following health problems:

  • poor attention span
  • poor memory
  • cardiovascular disease
  • cancer

Benefits of Rhodiola

Although the health effects of rhodiola have yet to be extensively studied, research suggests that the herb may be useful in treatment of the following:

1) Stress-related fatigue

Regular intake of rhodiola may help fight fatigue and, in turn, boost mental performance in people struggling with stress-induced burnout, according to a study published in 2009. Study results also showed that the 30 participants taking rhodiola supplements for 28 days had a greater improvement in concentration than those who took a placebo pill for the same amount of time.

2) Depression

In a 2007 study, researchers had 89 adults with mild to moderate depression take 340 mg of rhodiola extract, 680 mg of rhodiola extract, or two placebo tablets every day for six weeks. Among those taking either dose of rhodiola, significant improvements in overall depression, insomnia, and emotional instability (but not self-esteem) were gained over the course of the treatment period.

Study members taking the placebo tablets showed no such improvements. What's more, no serious side effects were reported by any participants.

3) Arrhythmia

Preliminary research suggests that rhodiola extract daily may help prevent arrhythmias (disorders of the regular rhythmic beating of the heart). However, rhodiola's heart-protecting properties need to be further studied before the herb can be recommended as a treatment for arrhythmia (a potentially serious problem that can lead to heart disease, stroke, or sudden cardiac death in some cases).

Caveats

Rhodiola may trigger adverse effects like irritability and insomnia. 

It's important to keep in mind that supplements haven't been tested for safety and dietary supplements are largely unregulated. In some cases, the product may deliver doses that differ from the specified amount for each herb. In other cases, the product may be contaminated with other substances such as metals. Also, the safety of supplements in pregnant women, nursing mothers, children, and those with medical conditions or who are taking medications has not been established. You can get further tips on using supplements here.

Using Rhodiola for Health

Available in capsule, liquid, and tea form, rhodiola can be found in many health food stores. The extract is often sold in formulas that contain other adaptogenic herbs.

Due to the limited research, it's too soon to recommend rhodiola for any condition. If you're considering using rhodiola, make sure to consult a physician before you begin taking the herb. Self-treating and avoiding or delaying standard care can have serious consequences.

Sources:

Darbinyan V, Aslanyan G, Amroyan E, Gabrielyan E, Malmström C, Panossian A. "Clinical trial of Rhodiola rosea L. extract SHR-5 in the treatment of mild to moderate depression." Nord J Psychiatry. 2007;61(5):343-8.

Maslov LN, Lishmanov IuB. "Cardioprotective and antiarrhythmic properties of Rhodiolae roseae preparations." Eksp Klin Farmakol. 2007 70(5):59-67.

Olsson EM, von Schéele B, Panossian AG. "A randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-group study of the standardised extract shr-5 of the roots of Rhodiola rosea in the treatment of subjects with stress-related fatigue." Planta Med. 2009 75(2):105-12.

Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed physician. It is not meant to cover all possible precautions, drug interactions, circumstances or adverse effects. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine or making a change to your regimen.

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