Rhodiola Rhodiola rosea

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Adaptogen

in vitro – studies reveal adaptogenic effects, including neuro-protection, cardio-protection, anti-fatigue, anti-depressive, anxiolytic, notropic, life-span increasing and CNS stimulating activity. It also demonstrated a lack of adverse effects or interactions with other drugs (Phytomedicine. 2010 Jun;17(7):481-93.)
Use in athletes – demonstrated improved adaptation to physical exercise, with reduced lactate levels, and reduced skeletal muscle damage from exhaustive exercise.(J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2010 Mar;50(1):57-63.)
In order to understand its mechanism of action – R. rosea was tested in cultured human cells, and it was discovered that it didn’t activate antioxidant defences nor did it act as a pro-oxidant. (Free Radic Biol Med. 2009 Sep 1;47(5):577-84.)
anti-fatigue – increased mental performance, increased concentration, decreased cortisol, and decreased fatigue. Beneficial to people with chronic fatigue syndrome (Planta Med. 2009 Feb;75(2):105-12.)
In a study involving 120 patients – with deficiencies both physical and cognitive, it was found that taking the total daily dose in the morning than was dividing the dose between morning and afternoon. Patients experienced improvement in various areas incl. concentration, forgetfulness, stress, and irritability. Safety was also highly rated, with no adverse events during the study (Adv Ther. 2007 Jul-Aug;24(4):929-39.)
Adaptogen and anti-stress – with action on the levels of serum immuno-reactive beta-endorphins, and maintenance of hormone levels. (Biull Eksp Biol Med. 1987 Apr;103(4):422-4.)
In rat studies – significantly improved learning and memory. It is interesting to note that there was a significant difference between positive reinforcement methods and negative reinforcement methods (Acta Physiol Pharmacol Bulg. 1986;12(1):3-16.)
Significantly improved fatigue and mental performance in physicians – during the first two weeks on night duty (Phytomedicine. 2000 Oct;7(5):365-71.)
Students – given a standardized extract showed significant improvements in physical fitness, psychomotor function, mental performance, and well-being (Phytomedicine. 2000 Apr;7(2):85-9.)

Addiction

May have a role to play in opiate addiction – according to this mouse study (J Psychopharmacol. 2010 Feb 8.)
In a study using mice – nicotine withdrawal symptoms were abolished when using Rhodiola extract. Results were dose dependant (J Psychopharmacol. 2009 Nov 25.)

Anti-inflammatory

A tincture of R. rosea showed anti-inflammatory activity, acting as a COX-1, COX-2, and Phospholipase A2 (PLA2) inhibitor. (Phytother Res. 2009 Aug;23(8):1099-102.)

Anti-oxidant

Antioxidant performance – was significant in oxygen scavenging, but also hydrogen peroxide scavenging, and protein thiol protection. It reduced  was also ferric reducing, ferrous chelating. (Am J Chin Med. 2008;36(6):1209-17.)
In vitro study demonstrated the antioxidant – activity on erythrocytes, yet also demonstrated that high doses changed the shape of the cells. This is unlikely to have the same effect when taken orally. (Eur J Histochem. 2005 Jul-Sep;49(3):243-54.)

Anti-microbial

May have a role to play against viral myocarditis – (Coxsackie virus) (Drug Chem Toxicol. 2010 Apr;33(2):220-6)
An in vitro study of individual flavonols extracted from Rhodoiola showed that they were active to varying degrees (some strongly, some not as strong) against flu strains H1N1 AND H9N2. (Bioorg Med Chem. 2009 Oct 1;17(19):6816-23.)
In vitro, in vivo, and in mice – R. rosea was an effective treatment for coxsackievirus B3, indicating potential fro treating viral myocarditis (Phytomedicine. 2009 Mar;16(2-3):146-55.)

Anti-stress

Antioxidant activity – may be a large part of why it is effective for stress (rat study) (Chin J Physiol. 2009 Oct 31;52(5):316-24.)
Significantly increased the ability of rats to endure fatigue – of the swimming test (Am J Chin Med. 2009;37(3):557-72.)
Stressed rats returned to normal body weight and sucrose intake when on R. rosea (Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Xue Bao. 2008 Sep;6(9):952-5.)
Using rats the adaptogenic and anti-stress affects – were demonstrated. (J Psychopharmacol. 2007 Sep;21(7):742-50.)
Single dose improves endurance – that day (Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2004 Jun;14(3):298-307.)
Anti-fatigue – (Phytomedicine. 2003 Mar;10(2-3):95-105)

Anxiety

A small preliminary study – R. rosea was helpful for generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) (J Altern Complement Med. 2008 Mar;14(2):175-80.)

Cancer

Salidroside – a phytochemical in R. rosea, was found to be effective for causing cell-cycle arrest and apoptosis of human breast cancer cells.  (Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2010 Jul 16;398(1):62-7.)
Inhibitory action – against Staphylococcus aureus and of prostate cancer cells. (Phytother Res. 2005 Sep;19(9):740-3.)
Anti-proliferation and apoptosis of cancer cells – due to R. rosea (J Ethnopharmacol. 2006 Jan 3;103(1):43-52.)
May have a role to play in aiding conventional treatment of cancer – protecting myeloid cells while retaining or enhancing the effect on tumour cells (Eksp Onkol. 1990;12(6):55-6.)
Study in mice inhibits tumours – including the development and spread of lymphosarcoma (Vopr Onkol. 1989;35(9):1072-5.)(Vopr Onkol. 1987;33(7):57-60.)

Cell and tissue protection

Significantly protected against H202-caused-cell-death – (J Mol Neurosci. 2010 Mar;40(3):321-31.)
May have a role to play in the treatment and prevention of hypoxia – and other oxidative stress-related diseases. This article also mentioned it’s beneficial effects for ischemic cardiovascular disease. (Biol Pharm Bull. 2009 Aug;32(8):1359-63.)
May have a role to play, through it’s antioxidant activity, in skin health –  (Arch Dermatol Res. 2010 Apr;302(3):191-200.)
Protection of neurones – in a study using rat hippocampal neurones, R. rosea was tested for it’s protective ability against damage to this tissue caused by H2O2. The results are promising for neurodegenerative conditions. The mechanism of action may be through inhibition of caspase-3 activity, therby inhibiting NO production and NOS activity. (Mol Cell Biochem. 2009 Dec;332(1-2):85-93.)
Reduces repurfusion arrhythmias – after short term ischemia (Bull Exp Biol Med. 2009 Mar;147(3):331-4.)
Reduced infarction size – chronic pre treatment (over five days) reduced the infarction size ratio (45 min ischemi, 2 hr reperfusion) in rats (Ross Fiziol Zh Im I M Sechenova. 2009 Apr;95(4):398-404.)
“No effect on oxidative damage induced by exhaustive exercise” – This was in reference to seeing lower antioxidant levels in the plasma for those athletes taking R. rosea (Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2009 Apr;19(2):186-99.)
Protects cells – in this case cardiomyocytes, from ischemia and reperfusion injury. It also demonstrated increased uptake of glucose into the cells. (Eur J Pharmacol. 2009 Jun 24;613(1-3):93-9.)
Anti-inflammatory and protective of muscle tissue- during exercise (Bull Exp Biol Med. 2004 Jul;138(1):63-4.)
In a study on rats R. rosea stimulated the production and reproduction of ATP – (essential to energy) in the mitochondria, and aided in the repare process after intesnse exercise. (Bull Exp Biol Med. 2003 Dec;136(6):585-7.)
Hepatoprotective – protects the liver (Eksp Klin Farmakol. 2002 Nov-Dec;65(6):57-9.)
Protects cerebral circulation – demonstrating an ability to balance hyper- and hypo-perfusion (Eksp Klin Farmakol. 2002 Jul-Aug;65(4):19-22.)
Anti-arrhythmic – (Eksp Klin Farmakol. 1998 Mar-Apr;61(2):37-40.)
Increases efficiency of DNA repair – and protects against mutation. (Patol Fiziol Eksp Ter. 1997 Oct-Dec;(4):22-4.)

Depression

Particularly helpful for asthenic or lethargic depression – it combines well with conventional antidepressants, helping relieve some of their side effects (J Affect Disord. 2010 Jun 24)
Improved depression in rats – using rats, it was found that r. rosea can improve depression and that low dosages actually caused the number of neural stem cells of the hippocampus to return to normal levels and repaired injured neurons. (Phytomedicine. 2009 Sep;16(9):830-8.)
Mechanism of action – in this lab test, monoamine oxidase inhibition was found for R. rosea roots, and it is thought that this is the route through which it works as an anti-depressant. The authors also say that it may have a role to play in senile dementia because of the inhibition of MAO B. (J Ethnopharmacol. 2009 Mar 18;122(2):397-401.)
Compared to fluoxetine – R. rosea was just as effective as fluoxetine in female rats. (J Psychopharmacol. 2009 Mar;23(2):130-42.)
Mild to moderate depression – anti depressant for patients who had mild to moderate depression (Nord J Psychiatry. 2007;61(5):343-8.)
Antidepressant, anxiolytic and adaptogenic – a study using mice demonstrated antidepressant and anxiolytic adaptogenic and stimulating affects of R. rosea (Phytother Res. 2007 Jan;21(1):37-43.)

Diabetes

Increased glucose uptake – dose dependent stimulation of glucose uptake into myoblast cells, this is a promising treatment for diabetes. (Eur J Pharmacol. 2008 Jul 7;588(2-3):165-9.)
Decreased blood glucose – in a study using mice R. rosea significantly decreased blood glucose and reducing oxidative stress that can lead to diabetic complications (Biofactors. 2006;26(3):209-19.)
R. rosea had the strongest activity – of the Rhodiola species tested, for ACE inhibition and may be useful in type 2 diabetes (Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2006;15(3):425-32.)

Lifespan

Significantly increased lifespan – R. rosea was able to significantly increase the lifespan of a type of fruit fly (Drosophila) (Free Radic Res. 2009 Sep;43(9):836-43.)
Lower doses worked better than higher doses – In the introduction to one study it was noted that lower doses increased life span while higher doses decreased life span in the nematode C. elegans. (Biogerontology. 2009 Feb;10(1):27-42.)

Miscellaneous

Lowered photon emission – a study to see what effect, if any R. rosea had on ultra weak biophoton emissions (UPE) revealed that it actually lowered significantly the amount of photon emission when compared to placebo. Reduced fatigue was also reported. (Phytother Res. 2009 Aug;23(8):1103-8.)
Inhibited lipase – in vitro and in vivo study showed that R. rosea inhibited lipase. This may give it a role to play in lifestyle diseases like high cholesterol and obesity. (Planta Med. 2008 Nov;74(14):1716-9.)
Synergy of R. rosea’s phytochemicals – Interesting study that demonstrated the synergistic effects of many of R. roseas phytochemicals vs just each alone. (Phytomedicine. 2008 Jan;15(1-2):84-91.)
R. rosea had the strongest action compared to selected herbs – in a test using comparing R. rosea, Schizandra chinensis and Eleutherococcus senticosus in single doses showed that R. rosea had the strongest action. Action was observed within 30 minutes of admistration and lasted for 4 to 6 hours. (Phytother Res. 2005 Oct;19(10):819-38.)

Neurodegenerative disease

Salidroside – one of the constituents of Rhodiola, may have a role to play in the prevention of neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimers according to this study (Neurochem Int. 2010 Jul 6)
Orat study (Biomed Environ Sci. 2009 Aug;22(4):318-26.)
Parkinson’s and other neurodegenerative diseases – Potential for aiding  as therapeutic modulators in neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s (Vestn Ross Akad Med Nauk. 2008;(4):47-50.)
Neuroprotective – protected cells from hypoglycemia, restored mitochondrial membrane potential and inhibited intracellular ROS production. May be appropriate of treating deurodegenerative and cerebral ischemic diseases (Cell Mol Neurobiol. 2008 Dec;28(8):1067-78.)