Rhodiola rosea is also known as rose root extract, golden root, and hong jing tian. The roots of this rose-scented plant are used to improve mental performance and combat depression.
Rhodiola contains rosin, rosarin, and rosavin, which are plant chemicals that boost resistance to physical and mental stress. According to Surell Levine of CBS Money Watch, rhodiola works by increasing the body's production of the neurotransmitter serotonin, a brain chemical that helps people relax.
RxList.com indicates that rhodiola is generally safe for up to 10 weeks of regular use, but it sometimes causes dry mouth and dizziness. Levine advises against using rhodiola during pregnancy. She also indicates that the root may act as a blood thinner, and suggests that patients talk to their doctors if they are using Coumadin, also known as warfarin, which is an anticoagulant, or vitamin E supplements.
The Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center indicates that rhodiola has been suggested as a treatment for cardiovascular disease and cancer, in addition to fatigue and depression. However, RxList.com indicates that there is not enough scientific evidence to conclusively rate its effectiveness as a treatment for any of these conditions.