New studies highlight the benefits and effectiveness of Rhodiola Rosea in managing stress. The plant has a positive effect not only on mental health but also on physical health and allows an improvement in performance.
Rhodiola Rosea extracts are still little known in France. However, this plant deserves to be known, and that is why we invite you to discover it in this article, which reviews its benefits for the brain.
Presentation Of Rhodiola Rosea.
What Is Rhodiola?
Rhodiola Rosea, also called Rhodiola or Siberian ginseng, is a unique remedy based on plant extracts. It grows in arid and sandy soils, at high altitudes, in the Arctic regions. It is found in Europe and Asia.
Origin And Presentation Of The Drug.
Still little known in France, Rhodiola has been used for many years in the countries of the former Soviet bloc. Russian scientists have long known that this plant can stimulate physical energy and is suitable for the treatment of mental exhaustion and stress.
Several laboratories of food supplements propose today capsules containing Rhodiola. The product is not reimbursed by Social Security, as it is not a medicine, at least not at the doses available in France.
What Are The Beneficial Effects Of Rhodiola Rosea?
This plant extract has many positive effects on the body. The most notable effects on the body are the following:
- Rhodiola Rosea helps the body respond to stress and reduces symptoms of tension and overwork.
- It improves mental health and concentration levels.
- Rhodiola Rosea improves physical performance, whether for work, during sports, or during learning phases.
- It has a strong antioxidant effect, fights free radicals, and protects the cell and DNA.
- Rhodiola Rosea also helps to fight depression and anxiety by stimulating the production of serotonin and dopamine.
- It contributes to healthy and restful sleep.
- It stabilizes blood sugar levels.
In Russia and Scandinavia, Rhodiola extracts have been intensively studied for over 35 years to determine their possible effects. Researchers have especially noted an increase in mental and physical performance. This phenomenon is related to the adaptogenic properties of Rhodiola Rosea, which allow better resistance to stressors.
It can be, for example, the stress in a period of examination, but also the passage to the night work, or the practice of the sport of competition.
But the Russian and Scandinavian studies also highlighted another interesting effect: the improvement of long-term memory. The plant contributes to the increase of the level of serotonin. This substance is known as the hormone of happiness and plays a major role in the regulation of mood. The activity of the brain benefits from it.
How Does Rhodiola Rosea Work?
Rhodiola Rosea acts as an adaptogen and therefore makes us resistant to stress. At the end of the Cold War, knowledge about this plant and therapeutic extracts derived from it have been disseminated in Western countries.
The scientific community was quickly interested in the issue and studies on the beneficial effects of Rhodiola have emerged. The results confirm the positive effects of Rhodiola Rosea on the psyche and the physical and indicate that this plant could indeed be an effective antidote to stress.
The beneficial effects of Rhodiola would be related, always according to the studies, the following substances:
- The rosavin.
- The salidroside.
Composition Of Rhodiola Extract.
- Phenylpropanes: rosavin, rosin, and rosarian (called rosavins).
- Phenylethyl Derivatives: salidroside (Rhodiola side), p-tyrosol.
- Flavonoids: rodioline, rodionine, rodiosine, acetylrodelin, tricine.
- Monoterpenes: rosiridol, rosaridine.
- Triterpenes: daucosterol, β-sitosterol.
- Phenolic Acid: chlorogenic, hydroxycinnamic, and gallic acids.
Mode Of Action.
The positive effect is probably linked to a double-action against stress, in the short and long term.
In the short term, concentration and memory are improved, thanks to the action of the product on neurotransmitters. Rhodiola also acts as an adaptogen, by stimulating serotonin and dopamine, the signaling substances of nerve cells.
In the long term, the adaptogenic and antioxidant effect is protective for the nerve cells of the brain. Rhodiola Rosea protects the nerve cells against the attack of free radicals. Moreover, stress is harmful to memory. This is why reducing stress is beneficial for the brain.
Who Is Siberian Ginseng Or Rhodiola Intended For?
Rhodiola Rosea is for anyone who suffers from stress. It is not intended to be taken over the long term, but as an adaptogen, can be consumed for several months without real disadvantages, the time to take charge of the situation of tension gradually and naturally.
More particularly, the product is beneficial to sportsmen in periods of competition. It also helps people who encounter difficult situations at work; they are then more resilient and perform better. Rhodiola is also indicated during exams or revision periods, to help learning and memorization.
Effectiveness Of The Product.
As Rhodiola Rosea is not a common medicinal plant in France and Europe, it has not been evaluated by the European Commission. However, the European Committee for Herbal Medicinal Products (HMPC) produced a positive monograph in 2014. This report finds that Rhodiola can be used to relieve symptoms of stress. Several efficacy studies are also available.
According to the studies, Rhodiola Rosea improves short-term concentration and memory. The plant is mainly used in case of overwork accompanied by symptoms of fatigue, exhaustion, irritability, and tension.
On Physical And Mental Performance.
An increase in athletic performance has also been noted. The plant also has a protective effect on nerve cells. However, it remains to be seen if it is really effective against dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
A Russian study examined the effect of 100 mg of Siberian ginseng extract per day, compared to a placebo, on the performance and concentration of medical students during the exam period. General well-being and physical fitness were improved in the group taking Rhodiola Rosea. Mental fatigue and need for sleep were lower in these students than in the placebo group. Test scores in the Rhodiola group were also somewhat better.
The effect of a daily intake of 170 mg of Rhodiola Rosea extract on mental performance and fatigue was studied in 56 healthy male and female physicians on night duty. A significant improvement in mental performance was demonstrated. After 6 weeks, this positive effect disappeared.
These results indicate that roseroot can temporarily reduce stress-related fatigue.
Another clinical study on young healthy subjects evaluated the effect of ingestion of 200 mg of Rhodiola Rosea extract (which contained 3% rosavin and 1% salidroside) on physical effort, muscle strength, speed of movement, reaction time, and attention. Taking Rhodiola increased endurance and physical capacity.
In 2015, the journal Phytomedicine published the results of a placebo-controlled study of 57 subjects with mild to moderate depressive disorders. For 12 weeks, one group received a standardized Rhodiola Rosea extract, the second group received the antidepressant sertraline (a drug in the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor group), and the third group received a placebo as a control group.
Compared to sertraline, Rhodiola had a lesser antidepressant effect but also resulted in fewer side effects, i.e. it was better tolerated. In this respect, the plant extract has a more favorable risk-benefit ratio for people with depression than sertraline.
On The Brain And The Nerves.
In a study of 128 patients, Rhodiola Rosea relieved fatigue, irritability, headaches, and weakness, as well as other problems of the autonomic nervous system in 64 % of the subjects.
The stimulating effects of the plant on the psyche were studied in 53 healthy subjects as well as in 412 patients suffering from mental disorders (neuroses) and general physical and mental weakness. The duration of the treatment varied from 10 days to 4 months, the dosage was 50 mg of Rhodiola Rosea three times per day. The disorders then improved.
Rhodiola Rosea also had a beneficial effect on brain damage, especially in combination with Piracetam (a drug designed to improve brain performance in senile dementia). However, the extract cannot reduce certain manifestations of mental illness (manic symptoms); on the other hand, the plant can aggravate delusional states (paranoid states).
When treating schizophrenia with medication, damaged nerves in patients with Parkinson’s disease can be affected. In this case, patients develop symptoms of stiffness, tremors, and slow movements, similar to those of Parkinson’s disease. Rhodiola Rosea can be used to alleviate these symptoms, especially when current medications do not work.
Dosage: How To Use This Treatment?
Rhodiola can be taken in the form of plant extracts. It is a preparation of phytotherapy. It is now easy to obtain in France. The dosage of active ingredients can vary. Like all capsules, it is better to swallow them with a large glass of water.
Daily Dose And Recommended Intake.
The recommended daily dose of Rhodiola is one 200 mg capsule of extract twice a day, for up to 4 months of use. Some authors recommend 200-600 mg of extract, two to three times a day. As with any (herbal) preparation, patients should inform their doctor about taking Rhodiola.
Should I Take Capsules In The Morning Or Evening?
Rhodiola must be taken in the morning and at noon on an empty stomach. Otherwise, you may suffer from sleep disorders during the first weeks.
Should I Take Rhodiola Before Or After Meals?
The best effect is obtained when the product is taken on an empty stomach (half an hour before breakfast or lunch).
Risks And Dangers.
Side Effects And Contraindications.
No side effects have been documented at the dosages used in clinical studies. In case of overdose, patients may suffer from increased irritability and insomnia for a few days. If Rhodiola Rosea is taken in doses that are too high or for too long, the positive effect may be reversed and symptoms will worsen.
The plant substance should also not be taken by patients with certain mental illnesses (bipolar affective disorder, e.g. manic-depressive illness) if they are prone to manic episodes.
No data is currently available on the safety and suitability of Rhodiola Rosea during pregnancy and lactation.
The interactions of Rhodiola with other drugs have not been described so far. However, Rhodiola root is likely to interact with some drugs and potentiate their effects.
So far as the product is close to ginseng, another adaptogen, an interaction is possible. As we have seen, Rhodiola Rosea is sometimes called Siberian ginseng.
Interactions are also possible with coffee or guarana, as well as other stimulating substances. Similarly with St. John’s wort.
Opinion On The Extract Of Rhodiola Rosea.
As with all health products, caution should be exercised when purchasing. It is better to choose a product from a recognized laboratory and consult your doctor or pharmacist if you have any doubts. As this is herbal medicine, you can also choose to buy an organic product.
Which Forms To Choose From?
Rosavin is available as a medicinal plant in capsule form in pharmacies or in food supplement stores. You can also find aqueous extracts in ampoules.
What To Look Out For When Buying Rhodiola?
Herbal medicines used in clinical trials are standardized to 3% rosavin and 0.8-1% salidroside and have the best efficacy.
However, there are also high-dose supplements available. When purchasing, look for high content of active ingredients and a product manufactured by a recognized laboratory.