Rhodiola rosea is a flowering herb that grows in cold, high-altitude regions of Europe and Asia

Part used Root
Use 2 tsp and decoct in 10 oz water for 15 mins, steep 45 minsIn the Alternative Medicine Review article, the author of the review suggests the following approximate dosages and adds that this may vary, depending on how much standardized extract it contains and for what use it is intended

  • 360-600 mg daily of an extract standardized for 1 percent rosavin
  • 180-300 mg daily of an extract standardized for 2 percent rosavin
  • 100-170 mg daily of an extract standardized for 3.6 percent rosavin
  • Nervous system tonic and anti-depressant
  • Cooling adaptogen and is unlikely to cause over-stimulation
  • Enhances alertness, reduces fatigue, improves memory and relieves depressed state
  • Prevents immune depletion from overwork, excessive physical training or cancer treatment
  • Normalizes various endocrine glands – good for blood sugar, sexual reproduction and relieving muscle stiffness and spasm
  • Prevents damage to and strengthens heart muscle
Dangers Not good for bipolar, manic or paranoid patients

Adapted from:

Winston, D. & Maimes, S. (2007). Adaptogens: Herbs for strength, stamina and stress relief. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press

Results from research based studies:

Decreases Stress

One study investigated the effects of rhodiola extract in 101 people with life- and work-related stress. Participants were given 400 mg per day for four weeks. It found significant improvements in symptoms of stress, such as fatigue, exhaustion and anxiety, after just three days. These improvements continued throughout the study. Rhodiola has also been shown to improve symptoms of burnout, which can occur with chronic stress: in a study in 118 people with stress-related burnout, it improved many associated measures, including stress and depression

Improves Brain Function

One study tested its effects on mental fatigue.Rhodiola reduced mental fatigue and improved performance on work-related tasks by 20%, compared to the placebo. Another study looked at the effects of rhodiola in military cadets performing night duties: rhodiola was shown to improve the cadets’ capacity for mental work, compared to the placebos. In another study, students experienced significantly reduced mental fatigue, improved sleep patterns and increased motivation to study after taking rhodiola supplements for 20 days. Two review articles (study1study2) also found evidence that rhodiola can ease mental fatigue. Another study suggests that taking a standardized extract of Rhodiola rosea may improve concentration and reduce fatigue. A review of Rhodiola states Rhodiola rosea may hold promise as an aid for enhanced physical and mental performance.

Improve Exercise Performance

Rhodiola shows promise for improving exercise performance in this studyAnother study looked at its effects on endurance exercise performance – those given rhodiola finished their  race significantly faster than the placebo group. In these studies and another study, rhodiola has been shown to improve exercise performance by decreasing perceived exertion. A further study in 2009 found that women who took a high dose of Rhodiola rosea were able to run faster than those who got a placebo

Helps Reduce Symptoms of Depression

Rhodiola rosea has also been shown in 3 studies to have antidepressant properties by balancing the neurotransmitters in your brain (study1study2study3). In a further six-week study on the effectiveness of rhodiola on symptoms of depression, 89 people with mild or moderate depression were randomly assigned to receive either 340 mg or 680 mg of rhodiola or a placebo pill daily. Another study compared the effects of rhodiola to the commonly prescribed antidepressant sertraline. A further study found evidence to suggest that Rhodiola rosea may reduce symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder. Another study in Phytomedicine found that Rhodiola rosea reduced symptoms of depression, but its effects were mild and not as effectively as sertraline, although it had fewer and milder side effects.

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health report that two review articles—published in 2011 and 2012—looked at 15 studies that tested rhodiola on physical and mental performance in 575 people. Both reviews found evidence that rhodiola may enhance physical performance and ease mental fatigue, but emphasized that the limited quantity and quality of available evidence did not allow firm conclusions to be made. Also a small, NCCIH-supported study tested rhodiola against the drug sertraline and a placebo in people with mild-to-moderate major depressive disorder. The 2015 study results showed all were similarly effective in reducing depressive symptoms, but people who took rhodiola had fewer side effects than those who took sertraline. However rhodiola’s effectiveness and safety for depression need testing in larger, more powerful studies.

Further resources:

Hung SK, Perry R, Ernst E. The effectiveness and efficacy of Rhodiola rosea L.: a systematic review of randomized clinical trials. 2011;18(4):235-244.

Ishaque S, Shamseer L, Bukutu C, et al. Rhodiola rosea for physical and mental fatigue: a systematic review. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2012;12:70.

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 Rhodiolarosea in the treatment of subjects with stress-related fatigue. Planta Medica. 2009;75(2):105-112.

Bystritsky A, Kerwin L, Feusner JD. A pilot study of Rhodiola rosea (Rhodax) for generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 2008;14(2):175-180.

Mao JJ, Li QS, Soeller I, Xie SX, Amsterdam JD. Rhodiola rosea therapy for major depressive disorder: a study protocol for a randomized, double-blind, placebo- controlled trialJ Clin Trials. 2014;4:170. doi:10.4172/2167-0870.1000170

Mao JJ, Xie SX, Zee J, et al. Rhodia rosea versus sertraline for major depressive disorder: a randomized placebo-controlled trial. 2015;22(3):394-399.

Sarris J, Mcintyre E, Camfield DA. Plant-based medicines for anxiety disorders, part 2: a review of clinical studies with supporting preclinical evidenceCNS Drugs. 2013;27(4):301-19. doi:10.1007/s40263-013-0059-9

Lakhan SE, Vieira KF. Nutritional and herbal supplements for anxiety and anxiety-related disorders: systematic reviewNutr J. 2010;9:42. doi:10.1186/1475-2891-9-42

Rhodiola. Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Updated January 29, 2019.

Dietary Supplements: What You Need to Know. National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. Reviewed January 15, 2020.

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