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Rhodiola

Rhodiola | Hong Jing Tian
COMMON NAME (Chinese Name)

Rhodiola (Hong Jing Tian)

BOTANICAL NAME

Rhodiola rosea

USES

Historically, people have taken oral rhodiola root supplements to treat stress-induced depression, anxiety, fatigue, anemia, impotence, and insomnia. Contemporary research has confirmed its anti-anxiety and antidepressant effects, and even may support its position as an anti-fatigue and anti-sexual-dysfunction therapy.

In Chinese medicine, rhodiola is categorized as an herb that tonifies yang. It is classified as cool, drying, sweet, bitter and aromatic, the latter because of the strong rose smell. In Chinese medicine it is credited with primarily affecting the Heart, Kidney, Liver, Spleen, and Lung meridians. The Heart fouses the Spirit or Shen, which influences mental health,  The large number of meridians affected indicates how powerful the herb is.

There is a wealth of anecdotal and empirical evidence that rhodiola root extract has significant antidepressant properties. This effect is most notable in cases where users experience mild to moderate symptoms of depression, and has been proven in human clinical trials. What’s more, these antidepressant effects may take effect within just three days of beginning a daily rhodiola supplementation plan. Rhodiola supplementation may also diminish mental and physical fatigue — the feelings of exhaustion that accompany psychological stress and depression — though more high-quality research is needed to verify this effect in human subjects.

Additionally, taking rhodiola supplements by mouth can improve memory formation and recall, as well as overall cognitive function, making it a safe, supportive therapy for learning. Aside from its effects on mood and cognition, rhodiola root may also have notable immune-boosting and generally tonifying effects, lending credence to its long history of use as a dietary supplement to support general health. Though some people claim it also functions as a physical performance enhancer, human trials have fairly definitively disproved this theory — instead finding that rhodiola root supplements can augment the overall health and fitness of already-healthy and already-fit people.

PREPARATION & ADMINISTRATION

Rhodiola supplements primarily make use of the roots of the mature rhodiola plant. These are harvested, dried, then subjected to a hot-water decoction process or crushed into a fine powder for easy ingestion.

PRECAUTIONS

If you’re interested in trying rhodiola, or any other supplements, you should first consult with a physician, certified herbalist, or other qualified healthcare professional. . Common concerns from researchers regarding rhodiola root supplements include decreases in blood pressure and blood sugar levels. Be sure to bring up these concerns when you speak with your doctor. 

REFERENCES

Amsterdam, Jay D., and Alexander G. Panossian. “Rhodiola Rosea L. as a Putative Botanical Antidepressant.” Phytomedicine, vol. 23, no. 7, 2016, pp. 770–783., doi:10.1016/j.phymed.2016.02.009.

Edwards, D., et al. “P-01-051 Stress-Induced Sexual Dysfunction in Rodents and Humans: the Rhodiola Rosea Extract WS® 1375 Shows Clinical Promise.” The Journal of Sexual Medicine, vol. 13, no. 5, 2016, doi:10.1016/j.jsxm.2016.03.201.

Edwards, D., et al. “Therapeutic Effects and Safety of Rhodiola Rosea Extract WS® 1375 in Subjects with Life-Stress Symptoms – Results of an Open-Label Study.” Phytotherapy Research, vol. 26, no. 8, 2012, pp. 1220–1225., doi:10.1002/ptr.3712.

Ishaque, Sana, et al. “Rhodiola Rosea for Physical and Mental Fatigue: a Systematic Review.” BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, vol. 12, no. 1, 2012, doi:10.1186/1472-6882-12-70.

Jówko, Ewa, et al. “Effects of Rhodiola Rosea Supplementation on Mental Performance, Physical Capacity, and Oxidative Stress Biomarkers in Healthy Men.” Journal of Sport and Health Science, vol. 7, no. 4, 2018, pp. 473–480., doi:10.1016/j.jshs.2016.05.005.

Li, Yonghong, et al. “Rhodiola Rosea L.: an Herb with Anti-Stress, Anti-Aging, and Immunostimulating Properties for Cancer Chemoprevention.” Current Pharmacology Reports, vol. 3, no. 6, 2017, pp. 384–395., doi:10.1007/s40495-017-0106-1.

Ma, Gou-Ping, et al. “Rhodiola Rosea L. Improves Learning and Memory Function: Preclinical Evidence and Possible Mechanisms.” Frontiers in Pharmacology, vol. 9, 2018, doi:10.3389/fphar.2018.01415.

“Rhodiola.” National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, www.nccih.nih.gov/health/rhodiola.

Ross, Stephanie Maxine. “Rhodiola Rosea (SHR-5), Part 2.” Holistic Nursing Practice, vol. 28, no. 3, 2014, pp. 217–221., doi:10.1097/hnp.0000000000000030.

Sarris, Jerome, et al. “Herbal Medicine for Depression, Anxiety and Insomnia: A Review of Psychopharmacology and Clinical Evidence.” European Neuropsychopharmacology, vol. 21, no. 12, 2011, pp. 841–860., doi:10.1016/j.euroneuro.2011.04.002.

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