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Lucía Figueroa

Benefits of Rhodiola for Stress

Table of Contents

Introduction

Although the properties of Rhodiola root have always been known by the local population of the Arctic and mountainous areas where it grows, its rise to fame as an anti-stress plant is relatively recent.

Let’s learn a little more about the so-called “golden root” or “Arctic root” and its health benefits, which derive mainly from its ability to improve performance in situations of tiredness, fatigue and stress.

What is Rhodiola?

Its botanical name is Rhodiola rosea because, if cut or broken, it emits a rose-like scent. It is between 20 and 30 centimeters tall and its leaves are bluish-green. It blooms in summer, with the male flowers being yellow or orange and the female flowers being dark maroon tones.

This plant does not have an easy and comfortable life, as it lives in cold climates and thrives in remote places that are difficult to access, such as in the rocky crevices of mountains, on steep cliffs or in the icy tundra.

His favourite locations are around the Arctic, such as Greenland, Iceland or the Scandinavian countries. It is also found in the north of the United Kingdom and in high mountain ranges such as the Himalayas, the Rocky Mountains, the Carpathians, the Apennines, the Andes or the Pyrenees.

As you can see, Rhodiola inhabits places where living must be very stressful… But it adapts. This ability to adapt is transmitted through its active ingredients, making it what is known as an adaptogenic plant.

What is an adaptogenic plant?

Adaptogenic plants are those that improve the body’s ability to adapt to prolonged environmental stressors. They relieve fatigue and asthenia in the face of a heavy daily workload and reduce the stress caused by the speed of modern life.

Although these plants were already known in traditional Chinese medicine as “superior tonics”, the first to coin the term “adaptogen” was the Russian Nicolav Nazarev, a pharmacologist who worked for the former Soviet Union with the mission of finding substances to increase physical and mental resistance to the stress suffered by combatants in World War II and, later, that of Soviet astronauts and athletes during the tense years of the Cold War.

This scientist investigated the adaptogenic properties of a plant called Schisandra chinensis, and opened up a new classification of metabolic regulators that would later include Eleutherococcus, Ginseng and our star plant today: Rhodiola.

Much more than an anti-stress plant:

Rhodiola’s ability to improve physical and intellectual ability was already known to the Eskimo peoples of North America, who consumed Rhodiola rhizomes for food. Apparently, the Vikings also took it to increase their strength and endurance in hard battles, and later in Norway Rhodiola was used to combat alopecia, pneumonia and also as a diuretic.

In other areas where Rhodiola grows, it has traditionally been used to fight depression, reduce tiredness, and treat male impotence and infertility in women. These are all reasons for stress, and stress, in turn, leads to depression, fatigue, and sexual dysfunction. Rhodiola can help you get out of this loop of anxieties.

How does Rhodiola work?

As we have seen, the benefits of Rhodiola have been known for centuries. It is now known that its adaptogenic effects are mainly due to the active ingredients of the rhizome and root of Rhodiola and are attributed to the effect of these substances on neuronal neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine, as well as on certain endorphins.

Because of this, Rhodiola rosea improves physical and intellectual performance and strengthens the ability to manage anxiety in stressful situations. The antidepressant and anxiolytic effects of Rhodiola and its anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory and cell-protective power have also been demonstrated.

Considering its properties to adapt to seasons of stress and overwork, it is easy to understand why Rhodiola is becoming a very interesting therapeutic alternative in a society in which anxiety, depression and apathy are so entrenched.

Benefit of Taking Rhodiola

Many people’s day-to-day lives consist of a long working day after which they come home exhausted and without the time or strength to pay attention to their partner, their family or themselves. This exhausting dynamic causes great vital dissatisfaction and permanent tiredness, so that on many occasions leisure moments, if any, are not dedicated to something productive that generates joy and fulfillment, but to evasive behaviors that only worsen the situation of internal unrest.

Taking Rhodiola gives us more strength to cope with daily stress, improve our resistance to fatigue and not fall into apathy. It can help us to modify little by little, and doing our part, what in our life generates anxiety and lack of energy, because we will have a more balanced state of mind to face the changes we want to make.

As the problems caused by stress and anxiety are so widespread, Rhodiola is indicated in many situations related to or derived from this state of constant nervousness. Let’s look at some examples:

  • Improve performance at work: If you’re in a busy season, Rhodiola helps you lower feelings of stress, concentrate more, and combat mental fatigue. This is also true for students under high doses of pressure during exams. Studies of students who were in good health found that after four weeks of taking Rhodiola, they scored better than those in the placebo group. Of course, they had also studied!
  • Soothe the symptoms of depression: it has been proven that Rhodiola has a positive influence on this disabling pathology according to studies that show that, after 6 weeks of taking Rhodiola, symptoms of mild or moderate depression such as insomnia and emotional instability improve. There have also been studies comparing the benefits of Rhodiola compared to antidepressants such as sertraline, concluding that the effects of the plant are milder, but effective and with fewer adverse effects than pharmacological treatment.
  • Increase libido: A fast-paced lifestyle and no time to relax can lead to a lack of sexual appetite that leads to internal conflicts and conflicts with the partner. Before this situation sets in for good due to stress, Rhodiola can help to recover that erotic energy that was disappearing.
  • Improve sleep disorders: if your problem is that, due to stress, you sleep poorly, you find it difficult to sleep and you feel sleepy throughout the day, Rhodiola can also help you recover a healthy sleep dynamic.
  • Fight ageing: no one is spared from getting older and stress is one of the causes of premature ageing in modern societies. But there are lifestyles and natural substances that slow down the negative effects of aging. There are clinical studies that highlight that Rhodiola protects against diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, neurodegenerative diseases, diabetes, and cerebrovascular and cardiac pathologies.

In short, Rhodiola is a natural therapeutic alternative that is very suitable for these times in which immediacy, difficulties in reconciling personal and professional life, multitasking or job competitiveness are rampant, leaving behind a trail of anxiety, apathy and lack of motivation.

Of course, it is not the panacea that will improve your entire life, but it can give you a more balanced state of mind that will make it easier for you to carry out your daily tasks without exhaustion or make deeper transformations with professional support in the event that stress is not a transitory symptom, but an alarm signal to change the direction you were taking until now.

By Lucía Figueroa

She has a degree in Pharmacy from the University of Santiago de Compostela and is a content writer on health, beauty and wellness. Passionate about phytotherapy, I firmly believe in the power of plants to improve our physical, mental and spiritual state. As another of my passions is writing, I enjoy putting my knowledge into words and sharing it through my articles.

References

  1. Ewa Jówko, Jerzy Sadowski, Barbara Długołęcka, Dariusz Gierczuk, Benedykt Opaszowski, Igor Cieśliński (2018) Effects of Rhodiola rosea supplementation on mental performance, physical capacity, and oxidative stress biomarkers in healthy men, J Sport Health Sci. 7(4):473-480, DOI: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30450257/
  2. Gou-Ping Ma, Qun Zheng, Meng-Bei Xu, Xiao-Li Zhou, Lin Lu, Zuo-Xiao Li, Guo-Qing Zheng, (2018) Rhodiola rosea L. Improves Learning and Memory Function: Preclinical Evidence and Possible Mechanisms, Front Pharmacol. 4; 9:1415, DOI: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30564123/
  3. Jun J Mao, Sharon X Xie, Jarcy Zee, Irene Soeller, Qing S Li, Kenneth Rockwell, Jay D Amsterdam (2015) Rhodiola rosea versus sertraline for major depressive disorder: A randomized placebo-controlled trial, Phytomedicine. 15; 22(3):394-9, DOI: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25837277/
  4. Wei Zhuang, Lifeng Yue, Xiaofang Dang, Fei Chen, Yuewen Gong, Xiaolan Lin, Yumin Luo (2019) Rosenroot (Rhodiola): Potential Applications in Aging-related Diseases, Aging Dis. 1; 10(1):134-146, DOI:
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30705774/
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