Benefits of Rhodiola for Stress
by Lucía Figueroa at Apr 24, 2021
Although the properties of Rhodiola root have always been known to the local population of the Arctic and mountainous areas in which it grows, its leap to fame as a plant against stress is relatively recent.
Let's learn a little more about the plant popularly known as "Golden root" or "Arctic root" and its health benefits, which come mainly from its ability to improve performance in situations of stress, tiredness, and fatigue.
What is Rhodiola?
The full botanical name is Rhodiola rosea because, when cut or broken, it oozes a rose-like aroma. The Rhodiola plant is between 20 and 30 centimeters tall with green-blue leaves. It blooms in summer, with male yellow or orange flowers and female flowers of dark garnet tones.
This plant does not have an easy and comfortable life, as it lives in cold climates and proliferates in remote places with difficult access, such as in the rocky crevices of the mountains, on steep cliffs, or in the icy tundra.
Its favorite locations are the surroundings of 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, Rocky Mountains, Carpathians, Apennines, the Andes or the Pyrenees.
As you can see, Rhodiola inhabits places where living must be very stressful... but it adapts. This adaptability transmits through its active constituents, making it what is considered an adaptogenic plant.
What is an adaptogenic plant?
daptogenic plants are those that improve the body's ability to adapt to prolonged stressors. They alleviate fatigue and asthenia due to excessive daily workload and reduce stress caused by the speed of modern life.
Although these plants were already known in traditional Chinese medicine as "superior tonics", the first person to coin the term "adaptogen" was a Russian pharmacist Nicolav Nazarev. He worked for the former Soviet Union with the mission of finding substances to increase physical and mental resistance to the stress suffered by fighters in World War II and, subsequently, 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 a new classification of metabolic regulators which would later include Eleuterococo, Ginseng, and our flagship plant today: Rhodiola.
Much more than an anti-stress plant.
Rhodiola's ability to improve physical and intellectual capacity was already known to the Eskimo peoples of North America, who consumed Rhodiola rhizomes as food. It appears that the Vikings also took it to increase their strength and endurance in brutal battles. Later in Norway, Rhodiola was used to combat alopecia, pneumonia, and as a diuretic.
In other areas where Rhodiola grows, Rhodiola has traditionally been used to fight depression, decrease tiredness and treat male impotence and infertility in women. These are all reasons that generate stress and stress, in turn, causes depression, fatigue, and sexual dysfunctions. Rhodiola can help you get out of this anxiety loop.
How does Rhodiola work?
As we have seen, the benefits of Rhodiola have been known for centuries. It is now known that its adaptogen properties are mainly due to the active substances present in the rhizomes of Rhodiola and their effect on neural 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 power, immunomodulator, and cellular protective effects 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 popular therapeutic alternative in a society where anxiety, depression and apathy are so established.
Benefits of taking Rhodiola
Many people's daily lives consist of long working hours and arriving home exhausted without time or energy to pay attention to their partner, family, or themselves. This exhaustive routine causes a great deal of dissatisfaction and permanent fatigue. In many cases leisure moments, if any, are not dedicated to something productive that generates joy and fullness, but to evasive behaviors that only worsen internal unease.
Taking Rhodiola gives us more strength to cope with daily stress, improve our fatigue resistance and not fall into apathy. It can help us to modify little by little, and by putting aside things in our lives that generate anxiety and lack of energy, because we will have a more balanced mental state 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 see some examples:
- Improve performance at work: if you are in a busy season, Rhodiola helps you to lower the feeling of stress, concentrate more and combat mental fatigue. This is also valid for students under high pressure during exams. Studies on students in good health concluded that after four weeks of taking Rhodiola, they got better grades than those in the placebo group. Of course... they had also studied!
- Calming the symptoms of depression: it is proven that Rhodiola has a positive influence on this disabling pathology according to studies that show that after 6 weeks 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 in comparison with 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 partners. Before this situation is definitively established because of stress, Rhodiola can help to recover that erotic energy that was disappearing.
- Improve sleep disorders: if your problem is that, because of stress, you sleep poorly, have trouble sleeping and feel drowsy throughout the day, Rhodiola can also help in the recovery of a healthy sleep dynamic.
- Combat aging: no one is spared from getting older and stress is one of the causes of premature aging 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 very suitable for these times in which immediacy, the difficulties in reconciling personal and professional life, multitasking, or work 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 whole life, but it can bring you a more balanced mental state that will make it easier for you to carry out your daily tasks without exhausting yourself or to 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 so far.
By Lucía Figueroa
Degree in Pharmacy from the University of Santiago de Compostela and writer of content 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 into words my knowledge and sharing it through my articles.
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/