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Frequently Asked Questions About Rhodiola Supplements
What is Rhodiola Rosea?
Rhodiola rosea, also known as Golden Root or Arctic Root, is indigenous to the mountainous areas of Asia, Europe, and the Arctic. It is a perennial flowering plant that thrives in cold, dry regions and has been a staple food in the diets of Scandinavians and Eastern Europeans for centuries.
Rhodiola also has a long history of use in folk medicine. The Vikings used rhodiola as a tonic to maintain their stamina and to boost their immune systems. Tibetans used the plant as a remedy for respiratory infections. The ancient Mongols used Rhodiola to keep their immune systems strong during the harsh sub-arctic winters.
During the early 19th century, rhodiola’s medical applications were outlined in numerous scientific publications, most notably in Russia and Germany. By the late 19th century, extracts of the plant were being used in France and Germany to treat headaches. Today rhodiola is available in the U.S. as a dietary supplement.
What Are the Uses & Benefits of Rhodiola?
Supplement manufacturers highlight a number of rhodiola benefits. Here is a rundown of the uses for rhodiola and the clinical evidence to support them.
- Stress: In a 2012 clinical study published in Phytotherapy Research, subjects suffering from stress were given 200 mg of Rhodiola rosea extract per day, for a period of four weeks. The results indicate that rhodiola is moderately capable of reducing life-stress symptoms. More research is needed.
- Fatigue: In a 2002 study published in Phytotherapy, 56 young, healthy physicians suffering from fatigue during night duty were given rhodiola or placebo for three two-week periods. The results indicate than rhodiola may reduce fatigue under certain stressful conditions. More research is needed.
- Depression: In a 2007 study published in the Nordic Journal of Psychiatry, individuals suffering from a current episode of mild to moderate depression were given rhodiola in doses of either 340 mg or 680 mg per day for a six-week period. The results indicate that rhodiola reduced the effects of depression at both dose ranges.
- Cognition: A 2000 pilot study published in Phytotherapy, tested the effects of rhodiola on the mental agility of students suffering from fatigue caused by exam stress. The outcome indicates that 100 mg of rhodiola daily for twenty days during the examination period was able to improve some cognitive skills and reduce fatigue due to exam stress. More research is needed.
- Exercise: In a 2004 study published in the Bulletin of Experimental Biology and Medicine, rhodiola was shown to have a moderate effect on lowering levels of C-reactive protein in the blood after exhaustive exercise. This may reduce the risk of muscle damage. More research is needed.
- Weight loss: There are some claims that rhodiola can help support weight loss over time. There is no clinical evidence to support this claim.
How Do I Take Rhodiola?
There is no standardized rhodiola supplement dosage, however there is a suggested rhodiola dosage based on trials. According to Examine.com, instructions for taking a rhodiola supplement usually refers to the SHR-5 extract.
This form of rhodiola contains 3% rosavins and 1% salidroside. The suggested dose for reduction of fatigue can be as low as 50 mg per day but is generally around 280-680 mg per day.
Are There Any Side Effects of Rhodiola?
Rhodiola is considered to be possibly safe when taken orally for a short-term period. Two doses per day, at recommended levels, have been reported safe for 6-10 weeks. The safety of more long-term use is unknown. Common side effects include dry mouth, dizziness, and excessive production of saliva.
There is too little information to know if it is safe to take rhodiola while you are pregnant or breastfeeding, so it should be avoided during these times.
Because rhodiola may stimulate the immune system, it should be avoided if you are suffering from an autoimmune disease.
Rhodiola may reduce blood glucose levels, so you should avoid taking it if you are taking diabetes medications.
You should avoid taking rhodiola if you suffer from low blood pressure, as it may cause your blood pressure to become too low.
There are currently no known rhodiola interactions with specific medications.
How Do I Pick a Good Rhodiola Product?
Not all rhodiola supplements are created equal. Here are some important factors to remember. The best form of rhodiola rosea is the one that comes from Siberia as this has a different chemical profile than other forms.
Though there are a number of different chemical groups in rhodiola, the two important compounds are phenylpropanoids and phenylethanol derivatives. These will be displayed on the supplement bottle label as rosavins and salidroside. The key ratio is 3:1 rosavin to salidroside. Also, to get the best quality rhodiola, you need a supplement made from a plant that has been freeze dried.