The synergistic bio-energetic herb: Rhodiola Rosea

The herb Rhodiola Roseais supported by centuries of documented medicinal uses. Decades of accumulated scientific studies validate its usefulness for improving mental performance, energy, and stamina.

Based on centuries of use – going back almost 2,000 years to its documented tradition as a remedy in classic Greek medicine, all the way to the many animal and human clinical studies mounted by modern scientists – we know that the herb Rhodiola Roseahas a wide array of documented health benefits. In fact, Rhodiola is likely to become the next bio-energetic herbal superstar.


Bio-Energetic Botanical with a Long History of Use

Rhodiola Rosea is a fascinating bio-energetic botanical with a long history of use.The book, “The Rhodiola Revolution” introduces this important herb quite well. It states that Rhodiola is scientifically proven to: “maximize energy; fight the effects of stress and aging; sharpen memory and concentration; ease anxiety and depression; and enhance physical performance.”10 How in the world can one herb do all this you ask? Well, the good news is like many botanical ingredients today, there is a scientific explanation that sheds a bright light on the benefits of this fascinating herb.

As youare no-doubt aware, the past 20 years have witnessed an explosion in the scientific study of herbal and nutritional supplement formulations. You have also probably noticed that until very recently, much of this research took place in western Europe — particularly in Germany, where their unique medical system evaluates the safety and indications of herbs that are prescription items, sold or dispensed in pharmacies.11 Other countries involved in extensive herbal and nutritional research include Sweden, Italy, China, Japan, India, and Russia.

Early on,Soviet researchers identified Rhodiola as an adaptogen12 – an agent that increases one’s resistance to biological, chemical, and physical stressors. Rhodiola was studied extensively to evaluate its potential benefits for military personnel, cosmonauts, and athletes participating in international competition. Today, an impressive body of scientific literature supports the traditional and modern applications of this herb.


Stress and Mental Performance

Rhodiola hasdemonstrated a remarkable ability to enhance cellular energy metabolism. The studies published thus far show the herb to be highly beneficial for both physical and mental performance under stress. The herb provides significant enhancement of mental energy and eliminates fatigue. It stimulates norepinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin, and has cholinergic effects in the central nervous system (meaning: it supports neurons that utilize the neurotransmitter acetylcholine). Rhodiola also supports and enhances the effects of these neurotransmitters by increasing the delivery of precursors (building blocks) that can be utilized to produce dopamine and serotonin.12-13

Stress interfereswith memory functions and, over time, causes deterioration in memory systems. Rhodiola rosea (R. rosea) appears to exert positive effects on memory and cognition, in part, by improving resistance to physical and emotional stress.12

This dualaction of cognitive stimulation and emotional calming creates benefits for immediate cognitive and memory performance, as well as for the long-term preservation of brain function. Calm and alert – you can’t be in a better mental state than that!

  • Severalstudies have shown that Rhodiola (again specifically: R. rosea) can dramatically reduce stress and simultaneously increase mental performance. One study found that a 170 mg/day dose of Rhodiola countered the fatigue and stress experienced by young, healthy physicians on night duty.14 In this randomized, double-blind, and placebo-controlled trial, researchers measured Rhodiola’s effect on five different measures of mental acuity: associative thinking, short-term memory, calculation, concentration, and speed of audiovisual perception. They found statistically significant improvements in all five of these mental performance parameters in the physicians who took Rhodiola for two weeks.14
  • Ina double-blind, placebo-controlled trial conducted at a medical academy, young, healthy students were supplemented with either Rhodiola (100mg/day) or a placebo for 20 days. The group that consumed the Rhodiola extract experienced significant improvements in physical work capacity, coordination, and general well-being, along with decreased mental fatigue and situational anxiety. The supplemented students also scored higher on final exams!15
  • Arandomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-group clinical study was performed to measure the effect of a single dose of Rhodiola extract on capacity for mental work against a background of fatigue and stress. Researchers administered a single dose of Rhodiola to healthy young individuals (19 to 21 years of age) and measured the beneficial results using an anti-fatigue index. The study showed a pronounced anti-fatigue effect from that single dose that was statistically highly significant (p < 0.001).16


IMPORTANT NOTE: If you choose to supplement with this herb, it’s mostimportant to look for a Rhodiola rosea root extract standardized to contain a minimum of three percent (3%) rosavins and one percent (1%) salidroside. This matches the extract concentrations utilized in clinical trials.

References: All references and scientific support for this article are provided in the corresponding chapters of the Brighter Mind® book authored by Dr. Kyl Smith available at

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