The Health Benefits of Rhodiola

Rhodiola Rosea May Be a Natural Remedy to Manage Stress and Fatigue

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Rhodiola rosea, also known as golden root, rose root, or arctic root, is a plant from Siberia that grows well in dry and cold arctic climates. It is frequently used in Chinese medicine. The medicinal compounds of rhodiola rosea come from the root of the plant and have been used to help treat occasional stress, anxiety, mental and physical fatigue, and depressed mood.

side effects of rhodiola rosea

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Uses of Rhodiola

Rhodiola has been used for centuries as an herbal medicine to treat a variety of ailments. Research suggests it may aid the following:

Health Benefits of Rhodiola

Rhodiola rosea has been classified by some researchers as an adaptogen. Adaptogens are plants that help make the body less prone to physical and emotional stress.

Research has shown that rhodiola may stimulate serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine activity. The proper balance of these neurotransmitters is believed to be involved in healthy emotional and neurological functioning.

However, more research is needed to confirm the efficacy of rhodiola supplements.

Treats Depression Symptoms

Rhodiola has antidepressant properties. In a study that compared the effects of rhodiola and the effects of Zoloft (sertraline), researchers found that both medicines reduced symptoms of depression. However, rhodiola was better tolerated and produced fewer side effects.

Reduces Stress and Fatigue

Rhodiola is an adaptogen, which is a type of plant that helps guide the body's physiological reaction to stress. In other words, rhodiola contains properties that help the body manage stress more resourcefully.

Rhodiola may help improve your body's resilience when facing life stressors, fatigue, and burnout.

Boosts Physical Performance

Rhodiola improves antioxidant activity in the body, and it has been used for centuries to improve physical strength, endurance, and longevity.

Helps With Sexual Dysfunction

Studies have found that rhodiola may help reduce signs of sexual dysfunction in men (such as erectile dysfunction) and women.

May Help Treat Aging-Related Illnesses

Because of its anti-aging and neuroprotective properties, research suggests that rhodiola may be an effective treatment to slow the progression of illnesses such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, cerebrovascular disease, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

Its anti-cancer properties may even make rhodiola an effective treatment for cancers that occur most often in older people such as cancer of the bladder, breast, colon, kidney, lung, and prostate.

However, more research is needed to understand its effectiveness as a treatment for these conditions.

Possible Side Effects of Rhodiola

Side effects of rhodiola rosea are generally rare and mild to moderate. They may include:

  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Dry mouth or excessive saliva production
  • Headache
  • Stomach upset

You may experience drowsiness if you combine rhodiola rosea with benzodiazepines, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), or serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs).

Do not take rhodiola rosea if you are taking prescription monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs).

There are no known risks associated with rhodiola rosea; however, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not regulate the production of herbs and supplements. Most herbs and supplements are not thoroughly tested, and there is no guarantee regarding the ingredients or safety of the products.

Interactions and Contraindications of Rhodiola

Rhodiola may cause a rapid heart rate if taken with prescription antidepressants. In people with diabetes who take insulin or other drugs, caution should be exercised as rhodiola may lower blood sugar levels.

People with low blood pressure who take rhodiola must be cautious that their blood pressure doesn't become too low (as rhodiola may lower blood pressure). Rhodiola may increase the effects of drugs such as warfarin and anti-inflammatory drugs.

Rhodiola may prevent immunosuppressants from working (such as those taken for multiple sclerosis). People with autoimmune disorders should not use rhodiola.

If you have any pre-existing health conditions, especially those stated above, talk to a doctor prior to taking rhodiola.

Rhodiola should not be used if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. It is also not recommended for children.

Dosage and Preparations of Rhodiola

Rhodiola is most commonly available in supplement form (capsules) and liquid form (tinctures or extracts). Some herbal teas contain rhodiola as well; rhodiola may also be dried, preserved, and brewed on its own as an herbal tea.

The recommended adult dosage for capsule form of rhodiola rosea is 100 to 300 mg daily. However, various strengths are available (from 100 to 600 mg). Rhodiola supplements have been used safely in studies lasting six to 12 weeks; however, rhodiola is not recommended for long-term use as its long-term effects aren't well known.

You should read the product label about the proper dosage and consult a healthcare provider to get personalized recommendations.

What to Look For in Rhodiola Supplements

If you choose to buy a rhodiola supplement (or any supplement), the National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends that you look for a Supplement Facts label on the product that you buy. This label will contain vital information including the amount of active ingredients per serving, and other added ingredients like fillers, binders, and flavorings.

Rhodiola is not FDA approved, so it's important to be careful when purchasing to ensure a product's purity. Consult with a doctor to get recommended brand that's safe.

The NIH also recommends that you look for a product that contains a seal of approval from a third party organization that provides quality testing. These organizations include U.S. Pharmacopeia,, and NSF International.

A seal of approval from one of these organizations does not guarantee the product's safety or effectiveness but it does provide assurance that the product was properly manufactured, contains the ingredients listed on the label, and does not contain harmful levels of contaminants.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Are there other natural products that people use to treat social anxiety?

    There are other products that are sometimes used to manage stress and anxiety. Not all of them have been studied enough to know if they provide a benefit. The most common supplements include:

  • Is it OK to take rhodiola every day?

    It depends. The effects of rhodiola supplements have been measured for time periods ranging from six to 12 weeks. While some take rhodiola one to two times daily during the period of use, rhodiola is not recommended for long-term use.

  • What does rhodiola do for your body?

    Rhodiola is an adaptogen that may help your body resist physical and mental stress. It may help reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, prevent stress, promote physical strength, and more.

  • Is rhodiola the same as ashwagandha?

    No, but ashwagandha is an herbal medicine and adaptogen—like rhodiola. Ashwagandha may help with some of the same health issues that rhodiola does, such as stress and anxiety. Ashwagandha, like rhodiola, has anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties.

11 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  7. Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Rhodiola.

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By Arlin Cuncic, MA
Arlin Cuncic, MA, is the author of "Therapy in Focus: What to Expect from CBT for Social Anxiety Disorder" and "7 Weeks to Reduce Anxiety." She has a Master's degree in psychology.