Rhodiola – also known as Arctic root and golden root – is an herb that balances stress hormones in the brain. Its extract can stimulate receptors in the brain that are associated with a happy, relaxed mood.
Rhodiola has also been shown to increase levels of natural endorphins that are associated with feelings of euphoria and stress reduction. A DNA test can help determine if supplementing with rhodiola for anxiety is right for you.
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Rhodiola grows in Europe, Asia, and part of the Arctic, specifically in the mountainous, cold regions. It is commonly referred to as an “adaptogen” in these regions, which means it works non-specifically to resist stress without upsetting normal biological functions.
People in these northern regions have been using rhodiola for as long as they can remember for all sorts of ailments including anxiety, infections, depression, fatigue, anemia, and impotence. It has also been used to increase physical and work experience, longevity, and aid in altitude sickness.
Nowadays, rhodiola is used as a dietary supplement. It is used to increase stamina, energy, strength, attention, memory, and aid in stress management. Some studies have been done to uncover the effects of rhodiola and have found evidence that it may enhance physical performance and aid in easing mental fatigue.
Rhodiola has been studied extensively over the years in Sweden, Norway, France, Germany, the Soviet Union, and Iceland. Rhodiola has not been effectively studied in the United States due to poor controls and generalized claims in early experiments. Nevertheless, studies being done now and traditional practices lead us to believe rhodiola has a wide range of uses.
A study published in 2007 by the Nordic Journal of Psychiatry found that patients diagnosed with mild to moderate depression had fewer depressive symptoms while taking a rhodiola extract than those who took the placebo.
Benefits of Rhodiola Supplementation
Rhodiola has been used in other countries for centuries, dating as far back as ancient Greece. Traditionally, it was used for fertility, cancer, physical strength, and headaches. Rhodiola was officially named in 1725 and is now studied heavily in Russia. It has been shown to aid in various ailments.
Mild Anxiety, Depression, and Stress
Clinical research in these areas is still young, but incredibly promising. It works by limiting the production of stress hormones that lead to feeling burnt out, without the side effects associated with prescription medications. The most promising effects are seen in mild to moderate depressive and anxiety disorders – more so that almost any other natural supplement.
Rhodiola has stimulant effects that are milder than caffeine, but still noticeable. The gentle effects rhodiola have on the brain can reduce the feelings of exhaustion caused by stress and chronic fatigue, both mental and physical. These effects are possible through the same mechanism that allows rhodiola to reduce feelings of anxiety and stress.
Rhodiola may also help with muscle fatigue associated with prolonged physical exercise by reducing the levels of lactate and creatine kinase. Improvements are noted only in association with exhaustive exercise, but in both average and physically fit subjects alike.
Rhodiola has been known as an adaptogen for centuries, meaning that it is a natural substance that increases your body’s ability to resist to stress in non-specific ways. Studies have shown that taking adaptogens like rhodiola during stressful times can help you handle those stressful situations better than you would without it. It can help with stress symptoms like anxiety, exhaustion, fatigue, and burnout.
There are many ways that we can help our brain function at its best, but sometimes that isn’t enough. These things include a healthy diet, exercise, and proper sleep. But, supplements like rhodiola can help further. Many studies have been done testing the relationship between rhodiola and mental performance. In one study, the researchers tested 56 mentally fatigued physicians who had been working night shifts. They gave the experimental group 170 mg of rhodiola every day for two weeks, and found that those who took it had reduced mental fatigue and improved performance on various tasks. Another study watched the effects of rhodiola on military cadets that worked similar hours to the physicians in the last study. The cadets took 300 mg + of rhodiola per day for five days, and found that those who took the rhodiola have a greater capacity for mental work.
Students were also studied in an experiment that found that rhodiola reduced mental fatigue, improved restful sleep, and increased motivation after taking the supplement for 20 days in a row.
Along with aiding in improved mental performance, rhodiola has been found to help with exercise and physical performance. In a study, some participants were given 200 mg of rhodiola a couple hours before engaging in a stationary bicycling class. The participants that took the rhodiola exercised for around 24 seconds longer than those who didn’t. Another study tested the effect of rhodiola on endurance by giving some participants personalized doses (by weight) one hour before they participated in a simulated six-mile long cycling race. Those who took the rhodiola completed the race much quicker than those who took the placebo.
Rhodiola may help with exercise performance because it may affect perceived exertion, therefore pushing participant to work harder.
Rhodiola may actually protect the brain from toxins. Recent research also suggests that rhodiola may be able to reduce binge eating caused by stress. For those trying to reduce or eliminate caffeine from their diets, rhodiola supplementation is reported to ease the symptoms of caffeine withdrawal.
Where Can I get Rhodiola?
Rhodiola supplements are available at most health and whole food stores, supplement chains, and of course through online retailers.
One report published in the UK found that some Rhodiola supplements were diluted or contained additives not advertised. Since the FDA does not regulate supplements in the United States, it is important to research the brand of supplement and their testing methods to verify purity before starting a regimen.
Do I Need A Rhodiola Supplement?
Rhodiola is not an element that the body needs in order to function properly. That being said, rhodiola is a promising option for those wishing to pursue natural, more gentle treatment options for fatigue, stress, and anxiety – reducing symptoms by up to 50% and resulting in a much higher reported level of general well being across the board.
How Much Rhodiola Do I Need?
The current recommended dosage of Rhodiola depends on what the goal of treatment is, and may be subject to change with more research. All dosage levels are associated with Rhodiola extract as opposed to Rhodiola root powder (which requires much higher dosages).
For acute, short-term treatment for fatigue and stress symptoms, dosages of 250-680mg of Rhodiola extract daily are recommended. The overall effectiveness of higher dosages seems to decrease after 4-6 weeks, at which point a maintenance level is recommended. Dosages higher than 680mg were not effective in clinical trials, suggesting a bell-curve for effectiveness.
As a preventative/maintenance treatment for fatigue, Rhodiola has shown effective in daily dosages as low as 50mg. Most clinical studies, however, used dosages ranging from 100mg-600mg.
Rhodiola for anxiety
What are the side effects of rhodiola?
Research is still young on this natural supplement, but thus far side effects while taking rhodiola are uncommon. They are mild and may include headache or insomnia, due to its mild stimulatory effects. Research has not yet evaluated the safety and effectiveness of rhodiola during pregnancy, so use while pregnant is not advised.
Are There Any Medications or Supplements I Shouldn’t Take With Rhodiola?
Drug interactions with Rhodiola supplements are rare, but possible. Review the below listing of medications and supplements before starting a Rhodiola supplement regimen.
Theoretically, concurrent use of escitalopram with rhodiola might raise levels of escitalopram and increase the risk of adverse effects. In one case report, a patient taking the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) escitalopram with rhodiola experienced significant tachyarrhythmia. Escitalopram is partially metabolized by CYP3A4, and rhodiola inhibits this isozyme.
Herbs and Supplements with Hypoglycemic Potential
Theoretically, rhodiola might have additive effects when used with other herbs and supplements that also lower glucose levels. In vitro and animal research shows that rhodiola can lower blood glucose levels. This might increase the risk of hypoglycemia.
Some herbs and supplements with hypoglycemic effects include alpha-lipoic acid, bitter melon, chromium, devil’s claw, fenugreek, garlic, guar gum, horse chestnut, Panax ginseng, psyllium, Siberian ginseng, and others.
Herbs and Supplements with Hypotensive Effects
Theoretically, combining rhodiola with other herbs and supplements with hypotensive effects might increase the risk of hypotension. In vitro and animal research shows that rhodiola can decrease blood pressure by inhibiting angiotensin-converting enzyme. Some of these herbs and supplements include andrographis, casein peptides, cat’s claw, coenzyme Q-10, fish oil, L-arginine, lycium, stinging nettle, theanine, and others.
Should you be supplementing with Rhodiola?
Individuals that suffer from chronic fatigue, and/or athletes – particularly those that participate in endurance sports – are the most likely to benefit from a rhodiola supplement.
Rhodiola may benefit people with milder stress-related symptoms or disorders. Those that suffer from binge-eating associated with stress, as well as individuals suffering from occasional or mild to moderate anxiety and/or depression (not to be confused with severe anxiety and depression), should consider a rhodiola supplement as a natural treatment.
Interested in learning whether rhodiola is right for you? Take the Vitagene Health + Ancestry DNA test today to learn the optimal diet, exercise, and supplementation for your DNA and lifestyle.