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Rhodiola Rosea Health Benefits and Side Effects - (Siberian) Rhodiola Rosea for Depression (scientific review)

Updated on February 11, 2014


  • Introduction
  • Chemical Contents
  • Benefits of Rhodiola Rosea
  • Side Effects
  • Synergy
  • Quality and Dosage


Rhodiola Rosea has been used for about 3000 years by the Inuits, Vikings and even by the Russians in the Cold War. Rhodiola Rosea or just simply Rhodiola only grows in extreme climates, where it is cold. This is the case in Northern Russia, Sweden, Norwegia, Iceland, Northern America and so on. But it has also been found in the Swiss Alps, where it is harvested as well. The plant prefers either very cold or very high altitudes. Even at 4500m altitude it can still grow normally.

Since it is adaptogenic, its uses are very broad. The Russians used this plant in the Cold War to boost their soldiers in terms of concentration and health. Nowadays, a lot of research is going on in this herb, since it inhibits marvellous properties that can substitute synthetically created medicaments against depressions and other mental illnesses.

Rhodiola Rosea plant


Chemical Contents

  • Rosavins

  • Salidroside

  • Flavonoids

  • 12 different amino acids

  • 20 minerals and multivitamins

  • tannins

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Benefits of Rhodiola Rosea

Rhodiola is an adaptogenic herb. This means that it does not directly attack an illness in your body (as medicaments do). Rather, it strengthens the body and the mind and makes it thus more resilient against mental, physical, chemical and biological threats. It adapts to the needs of the body, regulates certain processes or enhances them (for example, if you have to learn a lot suddenly for final exams, Rhodiola rosea can be a great help to enhance concentration and focus, because it would be needed to work more efficiently).

Research has shown many benefits for humans:

  • Concentration: Rhodiola is the adaptogenic herb par excellence when it comes to mental performing. Unlike other adaptogenic herbs, its effects on concentration and focus are already noticeable at the first time one takes it. Experiments have shown that it does increase concentration after taking it several weeks for 20% and more, which is actually quite amazing.

  • Stress: Nowadays, a lot of people feel very stressed. Rhodiola has the property to lower stress levels a lot. People, who took it for some weeks have noticed a significant increase in well-being and feeling relaxed and yet alert.

  • Athletic performances: Rhodiola enables the blood cells to take up more oxygen, which in turn means that physical activities can be increased quite a lot.

  • Bodily benefits: Rhodiola Rosea typically strengthens the immune system a lot. In this case, it should be taken at normal health. Also, it strengthens the heart and can prevent humans from several heart diseases.

  • Mental Benefits: Rhodiola has proven to be an excellent nervous balancer. It enhances the healing abilities of the brain and calms emotions (effective against stress).

    Students, scientist and physicians were given this herb for several days right before a task that requires increased performance such as final papers. All of them could report a dramatic increase in energy levels (endurance) and concentration and their results were generally much higher than without the herb.

  • Antioxidant: Rhodiola Rosea has very powerful anti-oxidant abilities. Extracts from it are sometimes found in anti-aging products.

It is also suggested that Rhodiola is very effective against depressions and anxiety. The salidrosides are excellent nervous protectors (brain cell protectors) and they work in several ways. One of the important processes that it activates is the production of antioxidants. Also, it enhances the transport of the serotonin precursor tryplophane and 5-hydroxytryptophan, which is effective against depressed moods. There is still a lot of research going on whether it is a possible healthy cure against depressions or not.


Side Effects

There were no side effects reported so far if it is taken properly. Otherwise, it can lead to vomitting and diarrhea. But also hyperactivity and increased blood pressure can be a consequence if used wrongly. Also, it should not be taken along with other stimulant drugs.


It can be combined with a couple of herbs in order to increase certain beneficial aspects:

  • Ginseng: concentration, high sporting performances

  • Ashwagandha: very effective against stress, depressions, anxiety, fybromyalgia, improves sleep a lot

  • Maca: endurance, libido, sexual energy

  • Ginkgo Biloba: concentration, blood circulation, memory

  • Goji Berry: good against chronic fatigue, good for sleep and energy during the day

Quality and Dosage

You should always buy Rhodiola Rosea with an organic seal.

The recommended dosage is between 200mg and 600mg (typically between 350mg and 550mg). It should be taken 30 minutes before eating or with an empty stomach either in the mornings or in the early afternoons. During times of increased mental requirements it can also be taken more than 600mg for some days or before an exam.

You should take it for 7 days and then take a break for 7 days and so on. It is not advisable to take it in the evening, as it can interfere with sleep.

Further Reading

Herbs and Herbal Remedies

Applications of Herbs

  • Herbs for anti-aging and youth
  • Herbs for better meditations
  • Herbs for Libido and erectyle dysfunctions
  • Herbs for more concentration and memory
  • Herbs for more energy and training

© 2014 Slaven Cvijetic


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