Rhodiola Rosea, known by other names as rose root or arctic root is a flowering perennial with rose-like blossoms. It’s native to the mountainous regions of Asia, Europe, and the eastern parts of North America. The diverse medicinal properties of the plant were first used for improving mood and stamina by the ancient peoples of Russia, Greece, China, Mongolia, and even Nordic Vikings, giving them the ability to also endure brutally cold climates and overcome fatigue.
As the plant’s effectiveness became more widely known, by the mid 1700’s it was prescribed for women’s reproductive health, and was also commonly believe to assist with fertility. Then, in 1947, the Russian scientist Dr. Nicolai Lazarev classified Rhodiola Rosea as an adaptogen. Other known adaptogens come from the Ginseng family, such as Panax Ginseng and several other herbs. Together, all of these plants were noted to contain anti-aging properties, helping the body adapt from exerted stress.
Rhodiola Rosea Modern-Day Uses
While the plant’s stems, leaves, and roots are completely edible and can make a tasty addition to a raw or cooked dish, Rhodiola Rosea is also sold as an essential oil or in dried root form (as a powder or in capsule supplements). The oil or powder may be mixed in with juice or water to make a tea. When ingesting capsules, it is recommended that you take 1 capsule with water, up to 2 times per day.
Rhodiola Rosea has 3 main uses, including:
- Fatigue. Sometimes fatigue and sluggishness are a result of an improper diet and other times it can be due to lack of sleep, illnesses, disorders, or mental or physical strain. Rhodiola Rosea’s slightly stimulatory properties can help increase your alertness, enhance your memory and give the immune system a boost. As a result, you may also find that it will help you maintain a healthy weight.
- Depression. There are several causes for depression, including stress, the environment, poor diet, medications, and genetic predispositions. By taking Rhodiola Rosea daily, you can give your brain the food it needs to help regulate moods, achieve a sense of calm, and the ability to focus without feeling overwhelmed.
- Sexual dysfunction. While sexual dysfunction can stem from all of the above, sexual performance has been found to improve through the regular use of antioxidants, such as are found in Rhodiola Rosea and other adaptogens. Used for centuries to aid with fertility, Rhodiola Rosea strengthens the immune system, and promotes a higher level of sexual energy in men and women.
The Effectiveness of Herbs as Remedies
Herbal remedies tell the story of ancient cultures, and how those people responded to illness and disease. Herbalists saw correlations between all manner of herbal compounds and mental and physical abilities. Every flower, stem, and root had a use, and if not for medicine, then for nutrition. Through much trial and error, same as with modern day medicine, people have learned what can heal and what can poison the body. So too, is it, that people can have adverse reactions to herbs as well as pharmaceutical compounds, while others may not see any results at all. Why? For the same reason no two people are alike: body composition. It is how the body reacts under differing conditions that determines the outcome of a remedy. This means that people from the same family, locality, age, or those on the same dietary regimen may have a wide range of responses – some similar and others completely different or rare.
Is Rhodiola Rosea Safe?
Rhodiola Rosea’s ability to combat fatigue, depression, and sexual dysfunction have been reported as the most common results from taking the herb regularly, and in some people it has also been shown to help diminish headaches and inflammation, improve sleeping habits, or aid in muscle recovery after exercise. There are also possible adverse reactions that can occur from Rhodiola Rosea, including:
- Interference with other medications or herbal supplements, such as blood thinners.
- Disruption to sleep.
- Allergic reaction or interference with undiagnosed medical conditions.
- Agitation and irritability.
NOTE: To help prevent or minimize many of the adverse reactions, it is recommended to take smaller doses and to increase doses only as tolerated, stopping its use if adverse reactions worsen or persist.
It’s true that along with modern medicine (and science) that studies have been conducted to prove a drug or herb’s effectiveness or warnings, and only those with less harsh side effects end up being advocated by medical professionals at all. However, every drug and herb remains subject to controversy and risks, including Rhodiola Rosea. Currently, more studies are needed to ascertain if it can also improve or treat cancers and diseases, or if can be recommended for children or pregnant or nursing women. Until then, it is considered to be only used by adults. Use with caution, and a consult with your physician is recommended before beginning a supplement of any kind.