What Is Rhodiola Rosea?

Written by amber kelsey
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What Is Rhodiola Rosea?
(Wikimedia Commons)

Rhodiola rosea, also called golden root and roseroot, is a plant of the Crassulaceae family. This herb is primarily found in the colder, mountainous regions of the globe such as Russia, the Rocky Mountains, the Alps, Central Asia and Scandinavia. Russian and Scandinavian cultures have long used this herb to help stave off the emotional and physical stress caused by living in an extremely cold environment. Rhodiola rosea has also been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine for its numerous health properties. Learn more about rhodiola rosea.

Health Properties

Rhodiola rosea contains various compounds, including rosavin, rosin and rosarin. Tyrosol and rhodioloside are other active components. These ingredients are believed to work together to optimise the levels of dopamine and serotonin in the brain, which helps to alleviate mild to moderate depression. The healing agents of this herb may also help slow down the ageing process and inhibit the growth of cancerous cells. The root of the plant is classified as an adaptogen, which can increase sexual potency and physical endurance.

Health Uses

In addition to helping relieve symptoms of depression, Rhodiola rosea is commonly used to fight fatigue, cure high altitude sickness, improve short- and long-term memory, boost concentration levels and stimulate the immune and nervous systems. Some medical researchers believe the herb can reduce high blood pressure. The flowers of the Rhodiola rosea plant are often consumed to ease gastrointestinal problems, and were once used to help ease the symptoms of tuberculosis.

Other Uses

The young shoots and leaves of this plant can be eaten either cooked or raw. This herb is slightly bitter, and most individuals find it more palatable when it's mixed into a salad with other types of greens. Rhodiola rosea roots can be cooked and eaten like spinach or asparagus. Native American tribes fermented the leaves, roots and shoots, and some individuals use the plants to make sauerkraut. Rhodiola rosea plants also make a pleasant smelling ground cover since it gives off the aroma of roses.


Rhodiola rosea supplements typically come in capsules or tablets. This herb should be taken earlier in the day during the first three weeks since it can cause insomnia and trigger vivid, strange dreams when taken near bedtime. This herbal supplement works best when taken on an empty stomach about half an hour before breakfast. Only mild to moderate amounts of Rhodiola rosea are needed to receive the herb's health benefits. Doses should be at least 50 mg, but not more than 200 mg. This supplement is reported to work well with other herbs, particularly valerian and St. John's Wort.

Side Effects

Medical research has determined that Rhodiola rosea has low toxicity levels, and this herb has been reported to have very few side effects. However, individuals who suffer from anxiety may become irritable, jittery and restless after taking this herb. Those with a bipolar disorder may experience a manic state. Some people might experience insomnia and an increased heart rate during the first few weeks of use. A high dosage of over 200 mg could trigger heart palpitations in some individuals. Rhodiola rosea is not believed to interfere with prescription medications.

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