Awesome Biohacks: Rhodiola Rosea
Try saying “Rhodiola rosea” to the person next to you. Chances are he/she will look like one big question mark. It’s too bad really, because Rhodiola rosea (or just Rhodiola for short) is an awesome plant. Based on the clinical evidence (and personal experience) associated with its extract, we believe it could benefit A LOT of people… in the world of adoptogens and biohacks, Rhodiola rosea is clearly one of our favorites.
Adaptogens you say? Yeah. Adaptogens were first coined by the toxicologist Nikolay Lazarev back in 1957 in the USSR. Adaptogens are characterized as herbs that can increase the nonspecific resistance to stress and decrease sensitivity towards stressors. In other words, adaptogens help the body “adapt” to stressors. They can be further classified into, e.g., calming or stimulating herbs. In a previous post about awesome biohacks we covered the adaptogen Ashwagandha which is a calming adaptogen. Rhodiola on the other hand, is an example of a stimulating adaptogen.
Rhodiola Rosea blossom in spring.
Rhodiola Rosea extract contains the bioactive compounds rosavin and salidroside (typically around 3% rosavins and 1% salidrosides), which are thought to be responsible for the clinical effects. Clinical studies have shown that Rhodiola can reduce fatigue, ‘burnout’, stress and anxiety. It has also been shown to have a positive effect on mood, likely as a secondary effect of the aforementioned. Newer studies suggest it might also be able to help the body withstand physical stress and further endurance exercise capacity most likely by decreasing the perception of effort [1, 2], while protecting muscle cells against oxidative stress . According to clinical studies, Rhodiola rosea is also thought to be able to improve cognitive function, particularly with regards to reducing mental fatigue. In fact, most the clinical effects of supplementation with Rhodiola are connected to reduction of fatigue . That’s why we love Rhodiola rosea, and think it’s one of the best biohacks available. In a demanding life, lowering fatigue and improving mood via nutritional aids is just a thing of beauty.
There are some preliminary results indicating that Rhodiola rosea might be able to promote longevity. This study, performed on fruit flies, resulted in an increase in lifespan of up to 20% upon supplementation of Rhodiola . However, as this has not been investigated in humans (for obvious reasons), it’s not possible to conclude more about the effect than that it could be a nice potential added benefit.
Wild Rhodiola rosea – arctic flowers.
Most of Rhodiola rosea’s effects are seen for daily supplementation of the extract – as is generally the case for adaptogens. This is for instance true for the effect on fatigue and burn-out. However, Rhodiola rosea can also be used with acute effect. During the forementioned studies on endurance exercise capacity, Rhodiola extract was taken as a single acute dose. Acute supplementation can be used up to a stressful event e.g., exams, important presentations or, as mentioned, training sessions, though the best mental effect will come from daily usage. For daily intake, effects are seen for as low a dosage as 50 mg/day, albeit more would be ideal (around 300 mg depending on quality). Effectful acute usage of Rhodiola extract has been reported in the range of 288-680 mg. The dosage should not exceed the 680 mg of Rhodiola rosea since evidence suggests that the effects may be ineffective above this range.
Based on the existing evidence pool, we advise that Rhodiola rosea should be used as a daily supplement. Studies of daily supplementation have shown outcomes of reduced fatigue leading to an approximate 20% improvement in work-related performance results (for instance measured on healthy, young physicians on night duty) and significant improvement in mood when taken for 2-4 weeks [6, 7]. The anti-fatigue and – burnout effects have been shown to continue for up to 12 weeks [8, 9]. We simply love Rhodiola rosea and believe it’s one of the best adaptogenic biohacks available. So if life is working you just a little too hard, maybe consider giving it a shot 😊
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- De Bock, K., et al.,Acute Rhodiola rosea intake can improve endurance exercise performance.Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab, 2004. 14(3): p. 298-307.
- Noreen, E.E., et al.,The effects of an acute dose of Rhodiola rosea on endurance exercise performance.J Strength Cond Res, 2013. 27(3): p. 839-47.
- Hernández-Santana, A., et al.,A Rhodiola rosea root extract protects skeletal muscle cells against chemically induced oxidative stress by modulating heat shock protein 70 (HSP70) expression.Phytother Res, 2014. 28(4): p. 623-8.
- Hung, S.K., R. Perry, and E. Ernst,The effectiveness and efficacy of Rhodiola rosea L.: a systematic review of randomized clinical trials.Phytomedicine, 2011. 18(4): p. 235-44.
- Schriner, S.E., et al.,Decreased mitochondrial superoxide levels and enhanced protection against paraquat in Drosophila melanogaster supplemented with Rhodiola rosea.Free Radic Res, 2009. 43(9): p. 836-43.
- Edwards, D., A. Heufelder, and A. Zimmermann,Therapeutic effects and safety of Rhodiola rosea extract WS® 1375 in subjects with life-stress symptoms–results of an open-label study.Phytother Res, 2012. 26(8): p. 1220-5.
- Darbinyan, V., et al.,Rhodiola rosea in stress induced fatigue–a double blind cross-over study of a standardized extract SHR-5 with a repeated low-dose regimen on the mental performance of healthy physicians during night duty.Phytomedicine, 2000. 7(5): p. 365-71.
- Lekomtseva, Y., I. Zhukova, and A. Wacker,Rhodiola rosea in Subjects with Prolonged or Chronic Fatigue Symptoms: Results of an Open-Label Clinical Trial.Complement Med Res, 2017. 24(1): p. 46-52.
- Kasper, S. and A. Dienel,Multicenter, open-label, exploratory clinical trial with Rhodiola rosea extract in patients suffering from burnout symptoms.Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat, 2017. 13: p. 889-898.