3 Mental Health Benefits of Rhodiola Rosea

by Dr. Edward Group DC, NP, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM
Published on , Last Updated on

Mental Health

A perennial, therapeutic plant commonly referred to as “golden root”, Rhodiola rosea has long been associated with a slew of physical and mental health benefits. While public awareness of Rhodiola rosea is largely very quiet, an increasing subset of people in natural health circles are becoming more aware of this extremely beneficial plant. Thanks to increased scientific scrutiny, traditional herbalists are receiving confirmation of Rhodiola rosea’s remarkable benefits for human health.

Traditional Chinese medicine and Canadian Inuit tribes have long applied Rhodiola for a variety of health-promoting purposes. [1] Recent research is beginning to validate these uses, noting the root’s potent flavonoid, glycoside, and proanthocyanidin content. These natural chemical constituents have been shown to provide powerful neuroprotective and anti-aging effects, making Rhodiola a highly favored herb for mental health.

Mental Benefits of Rhodiola Rosea

These top 3 benefits of Rhodiola rosea have been known for centuries by natural healers. Despite this age-old knowledge, it is only now that modern science has begun verifying its many healing applications.

1. Mood Disorders

Research has continuously shown that Rhodiola rosea contains powerful mood-boosting and emotional-stabilizing properties for persons with mood disorders. [2] The compound also shows no major side effects, an aspect that conventional antidepressants can’t claim. A review of studies found Rhodiola rosea produced a statistically significant improvement in mood compared to placebo. [3] Mental and physical fatigue, a common indication of down mood, may also be alleviated with Rhodiola rosea supplementation. According to a Swedish study, Rhodiola rosea reduced fatigue, promoted mental performance, and reduced stress hormones. [4]

2. Promotes Positive Response to Stress and Anxiety

In today’s fast-paced world, stress is practically unavoidable. The key to protecting yourself from its health-deteriorating effects is to find effective ways of managing it so it doesn’t get out of control. Exercise is probably your best defense against stress. Herbs like Rhodiola rosea may also provide support. One clinical study found that Rhodiola decreased indications of stress without side effects. The study authors concluded that Rhodiola is a great option for those seeking natural stress-management. [5] A recent animal study found that Rhodiola rosea significantly affected mental and emotional anxiety in times of stress. [6]

3. Supports Neurological Function

The anti-aging market is generally made up of creams, tinctures, and serums, all promising protective and anti-aging effects for the skin. While topical application has its place in decreasing the visible signs of aging, the nutrients we consume also play a significant role in keeping our body and mind young and vibrant. Antioxidants are perhaps the most powerful anti-aging compounds known to man, helping to protect against skin degradation and age-related diseases.

Rhodiola rosea contains salidroside, which has demonstrated potent antioxidant potential. Antioxidants combat oxidative damage exerted on cells by free radicals, helping to fight the incidence of age-related disease. [7] Rhodiola rosea has also shown promise in promoting brain health as rosin, Rhodiola rosea’s active compound, has been shown to protect against neurotoxicity. [8]

One Final Thought

Rhodiola is gaining traction in the research field and is becoming readily available as a supplement in most natural supermarkets and vitamin stores. When finding a supplement that contains R. rosea, make sure the herb comes from a quality, organic source. Have you tried Rhodiola rosea? What was your experience? Please leave a comment below and share with us!

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References (8)
  1. A. Panossian, G. Wikman, J. Sarris. Rosenroot (Rhodiola rosea): Traditional use, chemical composition, pharmacology and clinical efficacy. Phytomedicine Volume 17, Issue 7 , Pages 481-493, June 2010.
  2. 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.
  3. Dwyer AV, Whitten DL, Hawrelak JA. Herbal medicines, other than St. John's Wort, in the treatment of depression: a systematic review. Altern Med Rev. 2011 Mar;16(1):40-9.
  4. 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 Feb;75(2):105-12. doi: 10.1055/s-0028-1088346.
  5. Edwards D, Heufelder A, Zimmermann A. Therapeutic effects and safety of Rhodiola rosea extract WS® 1375 in subjects with life-stress symptoms--results of an open-label study. Phytother Res. 2012 Aug;26(8):1220-5. doi: 10.1002/ptr.3712.
  6. Cayer C, Ahmed F, Filion V, Saleem A, Cuerrier A, Allard M, Rochefort G, Merali Z, Arnason JT. Characterization of the Anxiolytic Activity of Nunavik Rhodiola rosea. Planta Med. 2013 Aug 23.
  7. Zhao X, Jin L, Shen N, Xu B, Zhang W, Zhu H, Luo Z. Salidroside inhibits endogenous hydrogen peroxide induced cytotoxicity of endothelial cells. Biol Pharm Bull. 2013 Aug 22.
  8. Lee Y, Jung JC, Jang S, Kim J, Ali Z, Khan IA, Oh S. Anti-Inflammatory and Neuroprotective Effects of Constituents Isolated from Rhodiola rosea. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2013;2013:514049. doi: 10.1155/2013/514049.

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