What is Rhodiola rosea?
The adaptogenic herb Rhodiola rosea is also known as golden root or arctic root. Indigenous to the mountains of Siberia and Northern Europe, it has been used for centuries to help people withstand the stress of cold temperatures and high altitudes. The Vikings depended on the herb to enhance their physical strength, and the Chinese emperors sent expeditions Siberia to bring back this golden root to be used to treat cold, flu, tuberculosis, and even cancer. Research on Rhodiola was part of the Soviet Union’s great push to compete with the West in the arms race, the space race, Olympic sports, and overall physical dominance.
This amazing herb grows in the most inhospitable areas of the earth—high deserts, cold mountains, dry and barren lands—a testament to its innate ability to survive stress. When we consume plants that have developed particular compounds that help them adapt to and survive physical stress, we ingest that same capability. The gift is now ours. These plant chemicals, or adaptogens help us survive and thrive in the stress of our modern lives. Rhodiola has tremendous fat burning, energy enhancing, and brain boosting capabilities. In addition, it helps the body to adapt to all kinds of stressors—physical, chemical, and environmental toxins. It has a calming effect on the body and the mind because it reduces cortisol levels in the body.
What Can It Do for You?
Rhodiola can help you burn belly fat.
- It turns on an enzyme called hormone-sensitive lipase, a substance that allows your body to access and utilize the fat stored in abdominal cells.
- Because it reduces blood cortisol levels, it reverses the trend of gaining belly fat that happens when cortisol levels are high in the body.
Rhodiola can help you be your smartest self.
- It increases the sensitivity of neurons in the brain to the presence of dopamine and serotonin—two neurotransmitters involved in focus, memory, and pleasure.[i]
- Unlike prescription medications that help the brain to focus, this adaptogenic herb won’t harm your kidneys or liver; nor will it stagnate growth in teens.
Rhodiola can improve immune function.
- Because high blood levels of cortisol are corrosive at the cellular level, any substance that reduces cortisol helps immune function.[ii]
- It stimulates and protects the immune system by increasing the natural killer cells in the stomach and spleen. It does this by modulating the release of glucocorticoid into the body.
Rhodiola can help relieve depression.
- In animal studies, Rhodiola enhances the transport of the precursors to serotonin (tryptophan, and 5-hydroxytryptophan) into the brain.
- Patients studied showed improvements in overall depression, insomnia, and emotional stability after taking Rhodiola for a period of time. [iii]
- A study by researchers from the University of Pennsylvania, published in the journal, Phytomedicine, shows that Rhodiola can help treat mild to moderate depression. In addition, the participants in the study who took Rhodiola did not experience any of the side effects that are commonly experienced when taking antidepressants—side effects like nausea and sexual dysfunction.
Rhodiola can help your memory.
- Studies using proofreading tests have demonstrated that Rhodiola enhances memorization and the ability to concentrate over long periods of time.
- It increases the bioelectrical activity of the brain which improves memory.[iv]
Rhodiola can help with generalized anxiety disorder.
- Individuals treated with Rhodiola showed significant decreases in anxiety assessment scores.[v]
Rhodiola can decrease the risk of heart disease caused by stress.
- By decreasing the amount of catecholamines and corticosteroids released by the adrenal glands during stress, Rhodiola can be effective in preventing cardiac problems caused or aggravated by stress.
- Studies show that chronic stress may produce a decrease in the ability to achieve homeostasis or balance, and an increase in hypersensitivity to new stressors. When military personnel with known cardiostressor reactional mode and occupational chronic stress exposure were treated with Rhodiola, they showed a significant statistical difference in all cardiovascular parameters including blood pressure.[vi]
Rhodiola can help regulate blood sugar and blood pressure levels in diabetics.
- Because blood sugar levels get out of balance from too much cortisol and other inflammatory factors in the blood, Rhodiola can help level out blood sugar by reducing the production of these inflammatory factors.
- Studies show this herb’s unique ability to inhibit factors that lead to hypertension in diabetic subjects.[vii]
Rhodiola can help with Binge Eating Disorder.
- Animal studies indicate that because Rhodiola modulates the stress response, it has therapeutic properties for bingeing-related eating disorders.[viii]
Rhodiola reduces physical and mental fatigue brought on by stress.[ix]
- Human studies show the significant effects of Rhodiola in exerting an anti-fatigue effect the increases mental performance, particularly the ability to concentrate, and decreases cortisol response to awakening stress in burnout patients with fatigue syndrome.[x]
Rhodiola can increase longevity.
- In animal studies, Rhodiola extended longevity and improved health span by alleviating oxidative stress. [xi]
- Shown to increase resistance to stress, resulting in a longer lifespan.[xii]
- Rhodiola protects human cortical neurons against glutamate and hydrogen peroxide-induced cell death through reduction in the accumulation of intracellular calcium.[xiii]
- In studies, Rhodiola decreased the growth of bladder cancer cells through its potent ingredient, salidroside.[xiv]