8 Mental Health Benefits of Rhodiola Rosea

February 18th, 2019

By Dr. Edward F. Group

Guest writer for Wake Up World

Life has its ups and its downs, and no one is immune from the mental effects of challenging times. Fortunately, whether you’re feeling down, anxious, or just wish to maintain a steady mood, natural solutions do exist. Getting adequate sleep and a balanced diet are fundamental, and exercise also offers dramatic results.[1][2] Meditation, another stress-relieving and mind-balancing tool, can hone focus and may even slow age-related thinning of the frontal cortex.[3] Additionally, some plants and herbs, like Rhodiola rosea, offer bioactive chemicals that support the nutritional charge for mental vitality.

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.[4] 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 Health Benefits of Rhodiola Rosea

Many of these top 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.[5] 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.[6] 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.[7]

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.[8] A recent animal study found that Rhodiola rosea significantly affected mental and emotional anxiety in times of stress.[9]

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.[10] Rhodiola rosea has also shown promise in promoting brain health as rosin, Rhodiola rosea’s active compound, has been shown to protect against neurotoxicity.[11]

4. Encourages a Balanced Mood

To put it simply, the available data suggests that Rhodiola rosea can help support a balanced, uplifted mood.[12] In 2008, researchers at UCLA confirmed that Rhodiola is one of several herbs with the ability to subdue anxiety.[13] A fairly recent, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study evaluated Rhodiola rosea on mood imbalance and found it not only led to improvements in mood, but it also seemed to positively affect sleep quality.[14] These results have been noticed by many, and some have even suggested that Rhodiola may have potential to psychiatric drugs.[15]

5. Supports a Healthy Stress Response

Do you ever feel stressed? If so, you may want to review the results of this 2010 study, one that pitted stress against the supportive effects of Rhodiola rosea: Study participants who had complained of stress-related symptoms noted improvement within days of beginning a Rhodiola rosea supplementation regimen. Progress continued throughout the duration of the study and no serious side effects were reported.[16]

6. Mental Performance

Mental fatigue makes it difficult to focus, causing personal achievements and success to dwindle. The good news is that clinical trials show that Rhodiola rosea stimulates the central nervous system to fight the fatigue that so often stifles mental clarity.[17] Additionally, using animal models, research conducted by Chinese scientists suggests that Rhodiola rosea supplementation supports the brain by simultaneously saving injured neurons, thus encouraging the growth and development of brain cells.[18]

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7. Does Rhodiola Alter Perception?

Perhaps one of the most interesting qualities of Rhodiola rosea is that it appears to alter perception, even to the point of impacting physical performance. While this sounds like a bad thing, it can actually pose positive benefits for human health. Research conducted by Gettysburg College found that persons who supplemented with Rhodiola rosea were able to complete strenuous exercises with less effort than when they had not taken the supplement. The effect was believed to be caused by an alteration of the participants’ perception on their individual effort.[19]

8. Nutritional Support for Parkinson’s Disease?

While Rhodiola is by no means a cure for Parkinson’s disease, Rhodiola rosea has grabbed the attention of those interested in supportive therapies for the disorder. Researchers at the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences evaluated a multi-herb preparation that included Rhodiola rosea and reported that — following supplementation — antioxidant levels, immune function, and hormone levels were in normal proportions. Despite the research being preliminary, the finding is certainly an exciting and positive step for the potential future management of Parkinson’s disease.[20]

Final Thoughts

Whether you’re experiencing brain fog, suffering from stress, or just wish to sharpen your focus, it’s clear that Rhodiola rosea is an herbal remedy you may want to consider. The research shows it’s an effective adaptogen with a track record of supporting cognitive outlets and mood.

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 Rhodiola rosea, make sure the herb comes from a quality, organic source.

It’s important to remember, however, that mental health problems shouldn’t be self diagnosed. If you believe you’re clinically depressed or otherwise severely imbalanced, it’s best to seek out a trusted health care advisor. Never stop taking any prescribed medications without first talking to your prescribing physician.

Have you supplemented with Rhodiola rosea? What effects did you notice? Please leave a comment below and share your experience with us!

References:

  1. Killgore WD. Effects of sleep deprivation on cognitions. Progress in Brain Research. 2010;185:105=29. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-444-53702-7.000007-5.
  2. Andreas Strohle. Physical activity, exercise, depression and anxiety disorders. Journal of Neural Transmission. June 2009, Volume 116, Issue 6, pp 777-784.
  3. Sara W. Lazar, Catherine E. Kerr, […], and Bruce Fischl. Meditation experience is associated with increased cortical thickness. Neuroreport. Nov 28, 2005; 16(17): 1893-1897.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Zhao X, Jin L, Shen N, Xu B, Zhang W, Zhu H, Luo Z. Salidroside inhibits endogenous hydrogen peroxide induced cytotoxicity o
  11. 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.
  12. Iovieno N, Dalton ED, Fava M, Mischoulon D. Second-tier natural antidepressants: review and critique.J Affect Disord. 2011 May;130(3):343-57. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2010.06.010.
  13. Bystritsky A, Kerwin L, Feusner JD. A pilot study of Rhodiola rosea (Rhodax) for generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). J Altern Complement Med. 2008 Mar;14(2):175-80. doi: 10.1089/acm.2007.7117.
  14. 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.
  15. Sarris J. Herbal medicines in the treatment of psychiatric disorders: a systematic review. Phytother Res. 2007 Aug;21(8):703-16.
  16. 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.
  17. Panossian A, Wikman G, Sarris J. Rosenroot (Rhodiola rosea): traditional use, chemical composition, pharmacology and clinical efficacy. Phytomedicine. 2010 Jun;17(7):481-93. doi: 10.1016/j.phymed.2010.02.002.
  18. Qin YJ, Zeng YS, Zhou CC, Li Y, Zhong ZQ. Effects of Rhodiola rosea on level of 5-hydroxytryptamine, cell proliferation and differentiation, and number of neuron in cerebral hippocampus of rats with depression induced by chronic mild stress. Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi. 2008 Dec;33(23):2842-6.
  19. Noreen EE, Buckley JG, Lewis SL, Brandauer J, Stuempfle KJ. The effects of an acute dose of Rhodiola rosea on endurance exercise performance. J Strength Cond Res. 2013 Mar;27(3):839-47. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e31825d9799.
  20. Bocharov EV, Ivanova-Smolenskaya IA, Poleshchuk VV, Kucheryanu VG, Il’enko VA, Bocharova OA. Therapeutic efficacy of the neuroprotective plant adaptogen in neurodegenerative disease (Parkinson’s disease as an example). Bull Exp Biol Med. 2010 Nov;149(6):682-4.

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About the author:

Dr. Edward F. Group III (DC, ND, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM) founded Global Healing Center in 1998 with the goal of providing the highest quality natural health information and products. He is world-renowned for his research on the root cause of disease. Under his leadership, Global Healing Center earned recognition as one of the largest natural and organic health resources in the world. Dr. Group is a veteran of the United States Army and has attended both Harvard and MIT business schools. He is a best-selling author and a frequent guest on radio and television programs, documentary films, and in major publications.

Dr. Group centers his philosophy around the understanding that the root cause of disease stems from the accumulation of toxins in the body and is exacerbated by daily exposure to a toxic living environment. He believes it is his personal mission to teach and promote philosophies that produce good health, a clean environment, and positive thinking. This, he believes, can restore happiness and love to the world.

For more, please visit Global Healing Center.


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