Rhodiola Rosea is a powerful Adaptogen (compounds which reduce physiological and chemical effects of stress) and an anti-fatigue agent which is a Scandinavian herb and has been used in Chinese medicine for its cognitive and physical vitality improving properties.
Rather interestingly, Rhodiola can reduce the effects of prolonged and short term physical fatigue as well as mental exhaustion. Most effective in the context of stress and high work-load related ‘burnout’, it can reduce both the tiredness and the stress. Similarly applicable to the stress caused by long periods of non-acute physical exertion i.e. endurance sports.
In some people, physical work can even be improved through supplementation, making it doubly viable as an inclusion for pre-workout supplements. In this sense, not only will it improve focus and reduce the stress but may improve the user’s output as well.
Its cognition improving effects come as a result of removing the fog of fatigue, allowing the user’s mind to concentrate on the task at hand.
Rhodiola may also be very neuroprotective in that it helps remove toxins from the brain.
Stress related binge eating has been reduced in subjects of studies, leading researchers to conclude that it can be a useful appetite suppressant, especially as part of a blend with other similarly inclined compounds.
Perhaps one of the most intriguing potential benefits of Rhodiola is its life extension properties. Further evidence is required but figures in the region of a 20% increase in lifespan have been mentioned in studies. Human studies of life extension are notoriously difficult (and necessarily long) to administrate and then draw conclusions from but it may just be worth supplementing with Rhodiola in case it’s true!!
How Does Rhodiola Rosea Work?
Rhodiola inhibits certain enzymes, specifically the group of Monoamine oxidase which degrades neurotransmitters; namely dopamine, norepinephrine (aka noradrenaline) and serotonin. By preventing this enzyme from doing this, the neurotransmitters can stick around for longer and hence improve overall cognitive function. In the case of Rhodiola, this manifests as a reduction of fatigue as well.
It appears to influence neuropeptide activity, which could account for its anti-stress effects, and also acts as a psychostimulant.
For memory and cognition, rhodiola further eliminates scopolamine’s memory impairment effects and therefore acts as an anti-amnesiac, independent of the aforementioned fatigue and stress reduction.
Neurogenesis (birth of neurons) is increased, along with a reduction in oxidative toxins.
In certain test species (not yet humans) Rhodiola has been shown to increase lifespan by up to 20%.
Are There Other Benefits?
Rhodiola may also be able to help in the following:
- Appetite Reduction
- Pain management
- Cardiovascular health
- Red Blood Cell protection from oxidation
- Physical Exercise Improvement
Where Does Rhodiola Rosea Come From?
Rhodiola Rosea is a herb from the Crassulaceae family, which has more common names such as Arctic or Golden root, and Orpin Rose.
Traditional usage seems to have begun in Europe and spread into Asia as far as Mongolia and Siberia. There are even stories that the Vikings of Scandinavia used it to maintain their physical prowess. Chinese medicine seems to have been the most consistent traditional application, where it was administered or ‘prescribed’ for its effects of vitality and longevity. Even as long as Chinese medicine has used it, the herb has been associated with life extension!
Found at altitudes between 1000 and 5000m in north Europe and Russia it can even grow in Northern American coastlines.
Rhodiola Rosea is one of those ingredients which has multiple benefits and no negative side effects. As a supplement on its own, it is good for combatting stress and fatigue, but will improve cognitive processing as a result. As part of an overall nootropic blend it will behave synergistically alongside other similar and complimentary ingredients.
The combination of Bacopa Monnieri and Rhodiola has demonstrated great success, and the addition of CDP choline and Huperzine-A is even more impressive.