Rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea), also called roseroot, golden root, or arctic root, is a succulent plant that grows in the arctic and at high elevations in the Northern hemisphere used medicinally for centuries in Scandinavia and Siberia for anxiety, depression, acute and chronic stress, and fatigue. It gets its name from the rose-like scent of its cut roots.

Studies show rhodiola modulates neurotransmitters via inhibition of  monoamine oxidase A and B and stimulates transport of dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine, resulting in decreased stress, anxiety, and depression as well as decreased emotional and binge eating. These activities appear to be neuroprotective and may also improve cognition, learning, memory, and brain fog. Rhodiola appears to improve hormonal response to stress by regulating ACTH, cortisol, tyroxin, and β-endorphin.  Rhodiola has strong antioxidant effects and it modulates the immune system through its activity on both pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokines as well as tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) and T-helper cells.  Rhodiola has a mild stimulant effect, resulting in decreased fatigue, without risk of addiction or dependence; those sensitive to other stimulants such as caffeine should start at a lower dose and increase after 3-5 days to prevent jitteriness or agitation. Using other stimulants along with rhodiola can have additive effects, increasing the stimulant effects of both. Rhodiola exhibits alpha-glucosidase activity resulting in possible decreased blood glucose levels; those on anti-diabetes drugs or who have hypoglycemia should use rhodiola with caution. Rhodiola also inhibits angiotensin-converting enzyme, resulting in possible decreased blood pressure; those with hypotension and on blood pressure medications should use rhodiola with caution. Drowsiness may occur when combining rhodiola with SSRIs, SNRIs, and benzodiazapines; one case of serotonin syndrome has been reported in someone taking both a SSRI and rhodiola.

Side-effects of rhodiola are generally rare and may include dizziness, increased or decreased saliva production, and insomnia, especially if taken later in the day. Contraindications include antifungals, calcium channel blockers, chemotherapeutic agents, corticosteroids, H2 antagonists, immunosuppressant drugs, MAO inhibitors, protease inhibitors, erythromycin, fexofenadine, escitalopram, itraconazole, ketoconazole, loperamide, lovastatin, triazolam, and more.

Standard dosing is 400-600mg once daily in the morning, 200-300mg twice a day, or 50-170mg three times a day; rhodiola may be more effective on an empty stomach. Supplements should be standardized to minimum 3% rosavins and 0.8-1% salidroside. Rosavins are specific to R. rosea.

Disclaimer: The content herein is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is not meant to diagnosis, cure, or treat any medical condition. Always consult a physician or other qualified healthcare provider with questions regarding a medical condition and before starting new diets and dietary supplements. Not all diets or supplements are appropriate for all people or all health conditions.

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