Rhodiola Rosea: The Ancient Adaptogen

Rhodiola Rosea: The Ancient Adaptogen

The Rhodiola Rosea herb can be found growing naturally in the cold, high-altitude mountainous regions of Asia and Europe, as well as in some parts of the eastern United States.  It has long been known as an effective herbal tonic, that fights against fatigue in both mind and body. It was used extensively for centuries in traditional medicines in countries such as Russia, China, and throughout Scandinavia. It was primarily used as a physical restorative, and continues to be used in many countries as a way to combat fatigue, anxiety, and depression.

The Rhodiola Rosea root has powerful adaptogenic qualities, which help to counter the negative impacts of stress, restore energy, improve cognition, and even enhance mood.  It is also known to protect the brain from damaging toxins. Among more than 140 active ingredients in the Rhodiola Rosea root, two of the most potent are salidroside and rosavin, and they are responsible for many of the health benefits that make Rhodiola Rosea one of the most widely used adaptogens on the market today.

In addition to its use as a Nootropic herb, Rhodiola Rosea is also a popular ingredient in foods. The leaves and shoots can be eaten raw or cooked. They are sometimes used in salads, or as an added flavoring in some vodkas.

How Does Rhodiola Rosea Work?

Though much of Rhodiola Rosea’s mechanisms have not been fully studied, the primary mechanism of action seems to balance out an array of molecular networks, and signaling pathways in the brain.

To get technical for a moment… the agents that delay the breakdown of the enzymes inside neurotransmitters are noradrenaline, dopamine and serotonin. Rhodiola Rosea works by affecting this modulation, in large part through a number of the phytochemical components that act as oxidase inhibitors.

In English… this process dramatically boosts the number of neurotransmitters that are associated with energy, mood stabilization, and pleasure response. This improved communication inside the brain can positively impact mood, improve cognition, and reduce the onset of fatigue.

In addition, Cortisol, a potentially harmful hormone closely associated with stress, is known to be suppressed by Rhodiola. This is accomplished through interacting with the HPA (Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal) system.  This is also believed to boost the production and release of opiate peptides and beta-endorphins, which are associated with reducing stress and have major anti-depressant effects.

Rhodiola Rosea Benefits

It May Help to Reduce Stress

Recent Rhodiola Rosea studies have shown that it is an exceptional adaptogen, that aids the body in reducing stress levels, after a highly stressful episode.  This can be an immense benefit for those who find themselves in frequent stressful situations.

According to animal studies, taking Rhodiola Rosea supplements dramatically decreases levels of cortisol in the body, which is the hormone related to stress that is often linked to hypertension, hyperglycemia, impaired immunity, and a host of other physical ailments.

It May Lead to Improved Cognition

In both human and animal studies, there is some indication that proves Rhodiola’s ability to lower levels of fatigue, which greatly influences the improvement of cognitive abilities, like motivation and memory.

Research conducted on a total of 140 compounds found in the Rhodiola Rosea root revealed that it boosts mental performance, by reducing fatigue, while simultaneously improving focus and concentration. But most notably, in healthy subjects, it also decreases the feeling of being “burned-out” in people who experience chronic fatigue.

It May Help with Depression

For those suffering from mild depression, Rhodiola may be a promising treatment that is both safe and effective.

In clinical studies done on patients diagnosed with mild to moderate depression, Rhodiola dosages taken twice a day have shown to significantly decrease emotional imbalance, insomnia, depression, and other related symptoms of depression.

Rhodiola Rosea Side Effects

Rhodiola Rosea is generally safe, well tolerated by the body, and non-habit forming in adult users taking moderate doses of 50-680mg, for a limited time of not more than 10 weeks.

Those who reported side effects experienced mild to moderate restlessness, nausea, insomnia, agitation, increased libido, anxiety, and dizziness.

Most of the side effects experienced resulted from higher dosages. As always, it is important to take the minimum effective dosage in order to mitigate those side effects.

Rhodiola Rosea Dosage

Having been tested and found safe, most effective daily doses range from 50-680 mg.  However, there is no widely accepted recommended dosage since its effectiveness depends on multiple factors including weight, age, and overall health.

Although not shown to be toxic, higher dosages may prove to be ineffective.  Therefore, rather than taking Rhodiola continuously, and building up a tolerance, many users choose to take it in a cycles.

If taking any prescribed medications, or other supplements, it’s best to carefully monitor its effects, since it may interact with other compounds.

Please note that it’s best to consult with your doctor before taking any dosage of Rhodiola if you are taking a prescription medication for the treatment of diabetes, high or low blood pressure, heart regulating drugs, CNS depressants, anti-depressants, or antibiotics.

Rhodiola should be taken by adults only, as there has not been any data collected on how it affects young children or infants. Pregnant women, or women who are nursing, should not take it either.

How to Take Rhodiola Rosea

Rhodiola can be most effective on an empty stomach, but can be administered with, or without food.  To avoid disruption in normal sleeping patterns, it is best to be taken early in the day.

Rhodiola is available in liquid, powder, pill, and capsule form. It can also be found as a tea.  Most users prefer to take it in pill form, as it lets users control their dosages accurately.

Stacking Rhodiola Rosea

Rhodiola Rosea effects may be best experienced when stacking with other supplements, such as:

Rhodiola Rosea and Bacopa Monnieri

Because both have similar bioactivities, as well as other complimentary effects, stacking Rhodiola and Bacopa is an appealing combination.  By combining these two herbs, it provides you with an equal level of calmness, and a restorative adaptogenic effect.

Rhodiola Rosea and Racetams

For users who want to enhance their physical and mental capabilities, any Nootropic from the racetam family is an ideal pairing with Rhodiola. Pairing it with Piracetam is perhaps the best example, as Piracetam has very few side effects.

Alternate Names for Rhodiola Rosea

If you’re looking to purchase Rhodiola Rosea, it’s important to know that it can be listed under a number of different names.  For your benefit, we’ve listed the most popular ones below:

Arctic Root, Extrait de Rhodiole, Golden Root, Hongjingtian, King’s Crown, Lignum Rhodium, Orpin Rose, Racine d’Or, Racine Dorée, Racine de Rhadiola, Rhodiola rosea, Rhodiole, Rhodiole Rougeâtre, Rodia Riza, Rose Root, Rose Root Extract, Rosenroot, Roseroot, Rosewort, Sedum rhodiola, Sedum rosea, Siberian Golden Root, Siberian, Snowdown Rose.


For centuries, Rhodiola Rosea has been used in traditional medicines throughout Europe and Asia, as a therapeutic adaptogen.

Its root contains powerful adaptogenic qualities that help improve mood, energy, and cognition.  It has also been shown to help with reducing stress and as a neuroprotector.

Some of the other benefits of Rhodiola are that it has been well researched, and has been found to be well-tolerated and safe to use, it has very few side effects, is readily available for purchase, and is rather affordable when compared to other Nootropics.

The downsides to using Rhodiola may include sleep disruptions, anxiety, and it may also have negative interactions with prescribed medications.  It is not clear if tolerance could be a problem, if taken for extended periods of time.

If you are looking for a supplement that may keep you feeling your best through times of both physical and mental stress, Rhodiola Rosea is a natural, and time-tested option, that has been helping people all over the world for centuries.


These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Products discussed are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.