October rounded out Emotional Wellness Month. This campaign and other nationwide movements have finally given mental health the attention it deserves and many now recognize it as being just as serious as physical health.
There are many ways to help cope with your mental and emotional health that you may already be aware of including exercise, meditation, therapy, and more. Although, there is another key aspect to improving mental health that needs more attention: the immense benefits of rhodiola. If you find yourself struggling with energy, stress, and impaired mood, you should know about this plant-derived supplement.
What is rhodiola?
Rhodiola is a flowering herb that grows in the arctic regions of Europe and Asia. Rhodiola, also known as an Arctic root or golden root, has the scientific name Rhodiola rosea. The roots of the herb have been considered adaptogens.
Adaptogens help your body adapt to environmental, biological and physiological stress.1 This stress can come from your body’s response to illness, both physical and mental.
Rhodiola throughout history
Rhodiola has had attention in the integrative medicine world for its therapeutic properties for centuries. People in northern regions have believed in rhodiola helping relieve headaches, anxiety, fatigue, and depressive symptoms.
In ancient China, trade was expedited to Siberia in exchange for rhodiola for longevity and life extension. It was considered a “gift of the spirits.”
Present-day, it is still common in the people of the northern Eurasian region. For example, in Siberia, it is thought to prolong life and is often given as a gift to newlyweds as a symbol of wishing the couple a long life together.2
Most importantly, this herb has a plethora of strong studies backing up its incredible benefits. This ancient, powerful, and healing root is known for an array of proposed benefits, most significantly, it’s been shown to improve energy levels, alleviate stress, and influence serotonin, your brain’s happy chemical. 3-4
3 Ways Rhodiola Can Help Improve Your Emotional Wellness
Fatigue can stem from both physical and emotional contributors. Many times, work causes people extreme fatigue and burnout. While rhodiola can’t get you a new job, it can help give you more energy and motivation at work resulting in a happier, more successful version of yourself.
Since rhodiola helps balance brain chemicals such as melatonin, that makes you sleepy, and serotonin, which makes you feel energized and happy, this root also helps you fight fatigue.
An internal pilot study done with Baze customers supplementing with rhodiola resulted in 57% reporting improvements in their energy levels in 8 weeks.
A study published in Complementary Medicine Research followed 100 patients with chronic fatigue symptoms who supplemented with rhodiola over eight weeks. Researchers found that the subjects’ fatigue symptoms decreased significantly throughout the study, with the greatest change in fatigue observed after just one week.5 One randomized controlled trial on nursing students doing shift work showed 364 mg/day of Rhodiola to reduce fatigue compared with a placebo.6 A similar study showed Rhodiola improved fatigue during night duty in young, healthy physicians compared with a placebo.7
The side effects caused by mental and emotional stress can be devastating, leading to frustration, exhaustion, and unhappiness. Fortunately, rhodiola may help people cope with these side effects.
In a pilot test of Baze customers supplementing with rhodiola, 86% reported decreases in stress.
Dr. Richard Brown, Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Columbia University, says that rhodiola enhances the healing properties of one’s own nervous system by promoting healthy physical and emotional development and emotional calming by regulating adrenaline and cortisol, two important stress hormones.8
A study investigated the effects of 200 mg of rhodiola twice a day compared with a placebo on stress symptoms. Subjects saw improvements in as little as 3 days, along with additional long-term improvements. It does so by stimulating norepinephrine, dopamine, serotonin, and nicotinic cholinergic effects in the central nervous system.8
Influences Mood-Boosting Brain Chemicals
Depression can stop us from enjoying our lives. Like stress, there are ways to cope with these crippling symptoms utilizing natural remedies, among others.
Studies on rhodiola have shown that the root enhances the body’s tolerance to stress by influencing key brain chemicals such as serotonin and norepinephrine, and natural feel-good opioids such as endorphins. These brain chemicals and endorphins are considered natural painkillers because they bring about feelings of general well-being and euphoria.9-10
A study observed rhodiola compared to the drug sertraline, a common antidepressant, and a placebo in people with mild-to-moderate major depressive disorder. Both antidepressants and rhodiola have been shown to promote serotonin’s absorption by brain neurons. When compared, the study showed that people who took rhodiola reported fewer depressive side effects than those who took sertraline.11
Should you add rhodiola to your daily routine?
Rhodiola is most commonly used for increasing energy, endurance, and mental health and capacity. If you struggle with disrupted moods, always feeling nervous, depressive symptoms, or finding enough energy and motivation, rhodiola may be a good addition to your health routine. Also, anyone who is a working professional may see beneficial improvements in mental capacity, motivation, and focus while at work.
The case for supplementation
Rhodiola is regarded as generally safe for human consumption, with a low risk of reported side effects with supplementation. Studies show that people can experience noticeable benefits in as little as one week of supplementation, but that response is fairly individualized. It can take closer to two to three months to notice positive changes for some so patience and an open mind is important.
The Baze-ics:Rhodiola is a flowering herb. The root has been used as a medicinal plant for centuries. Rhodiola supports and promotes energy, brain function, and the nervous system. If you supplement with rhodiola, you may notice a reduction in stress, depression, and fatigue. If you want to use rhodiola, be sure to tell all your health care providers as it is important for them to be aware of the supplements you take.
Panossian, A., & Wikman, G. (2010). Effects of Adaptogens on the Central Nervous System and the Molecular Mechanisms Associated with Their Stress-Protective Activity. Pharmaceuticals (Basel, Switzerland), 3(1), 188–224. doi:10.3390/ph3010188
Eaton, J. S., & Tyler, R. W. (2011). Discovering wild plants: Alaska, Western Canada, the Northwest. Motueka, N.Z.: Eaton.
Bystritsky A, Kerwin L, Feusner JD. A pilot study of Rhodiola rosea (Rhodax) for generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 2008;14(2):175-180.
Hung SK, Perry R, Ernst E. The effectiveness and efficacy of Rhodiola rosea L.: a systematic review of randomized clinical trials. Phytomedicine. 2011;18(4):235-244.
Lekomtseva, Y., Zhukova, I., & Wacker, A. (2017). Rhodiola rosea in Subjects with Prolonged or Chronic Fatigue Symptoms: Results of an Open-Label Clinical Trial. Complementary Medicine Research, 24(1), 46–52. https://doi.org/10.1159/000457918
Punja, S., Shamseer, L., Olson, K., & Vohra, S. (2014). Rhodiola rosea for mental and physical fatigue in nursing students: a randomized controlled trial. PloS One, 9(9), e108416. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0108416
Darbinyan, V., Kteyan, A., Panossian, A., Gabrielian, E., Wikman, G., & Wagner, H. (2000). Rhodiola rosea in stress induced fatigue–a double blind cross-over study of a standardized extract SHR-5 with a repeated low-dose regimen on the mental performance of healthy physicians during night duty. Phytomedicine : International Journal of Phytotherapy and Phytopharmacology, 7(5), 365–371. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0944-7113(00)80055-0
Brown R, Gerbarg P, Ramazanov Z. Rhodiola rosea: A Phytomedicinal Overview. Herbalgram. 2002;56:40-52.
Lishmanov IuB, Trifonova ZhV, Tsibin AN, Maslova LV, Dement’eva LA. Plasma beta-endorphin and stress hormones in stress and adaptation. Biull Eksp Biol Med. 1987 Apr;103(4):422-4.
Kelly GS. Rhodiola rosea: a possible plant adaptogen. Altern Med Rev. 2001 Jun;6(3):293-302.
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 Medica. 2009;75(2):105-112.
This blog by Baze is for information purposes only and should not take the place of medical advice. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.