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Rhodiola rosea is an herb that has adaptogenic properties. This means, it helps the body adapt to internal and external stressors. Adaptogenic herbs work by helping the body’s autonomic nervous system return to its normal, relaxed state. They also help the body recover more quickly after stressful situations have passed.
The extract of rhodiola is often made into a tonic in Russia, Scandinavia, Eastern Europe and Asia and has a long history of use in Traditional Chinese Medicine for improving stamina and reducing stress.
A scientific review study in Herbal Gram, the journal of the American Botanical Council, concluded that rhodiola helps prevent fatigue, stress and the damaging effects of oxygen deprivation.
Another study showed that patients with mild-to-moderate depression who took a rhodiola extract reported fewer symptoms of depression than those who took a placebo.
Rhodiola is often combined with other adaptogenic herbs such as Holy Basil, Schisandra or Ginseng to modify the stress response. You may find rhodiola in products designed to support the adrenal gland. These combinations of herbs may be called “Adrenal Support” or “HPA Axis Support”. I recommend Adrenal Essence by Xymogen to my patients.
Side effects of rhodiola are uncommon, but can include dry mouth and insomnia; therefore, it is best to take it early in the day to avoid any interference with sleep.
Be sure to follow the manufacturers directions and check with your health provider before starting any adaptogenic supplements.