Rhodiola Rosea (Golden Roots, Roseroots, Arctic Roots) is an adaptogenic herb that can be used as a nootropic and has been used for hundreds of years in traditional medicine in Russia, Scandinavian countries, and other parts of the world.
Rhodiola rosea is a widely used remedy in Russia for fatigue, low concentration and reduced memory. It is also believed to increase worker productivity.
The Journal of the American Botanical Council published 180 studies on Rhodiola Rosea from 1960 to present. The majority of research on Rhodiola Rosea has been done since 1960.
German researchers describe the benefits of Rhodiola Rosea for pain, headache, scurvy, hemorrhoids, as a stimulant, and as an anti-inflammatory.
This ancient remedy is known for its remarkable anti-anxiety and stress-relieving properties. It is able to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the most powerful drugs for treating anxiety and depression.
We’ll be looking at how Rhodiola Rosea can benefit your brain. In this article, we will go through Rhodiola rosea’s benefits, side effects, and long-term effects. We will talk about the optimal Rhodiola rosea dosage, as well as how to use and stack Rhodiola rosea for maximum benefits. Please share your experiences with Rhodiola rosea in the comments section at the end. If you have any questions about Rhodiola rosea as a nootropic, please post them in the comments section too.
Rhodiola Rosea Nootropic Quick Summary
After reviewing the evidence, it is clear that Rhodiola rosea is one of the best nootropics. It can:
- Reduce Stress & Fatigue Rhodiola Rosea can help reduce stress and fatigue, energy, alertness, and stamina. It also helps to improve mental performance during periods of chronic stress. Rhodiola Rosea has been shown to increase attention to details by increasing concentration over time. The ideal study nootropic.
- Enhance Mood. Rhodiola Rosea improves mood by increasing serotonin, norepinephrine, and feel-good opioids such as beta-endorphins.
- Neuronal Recovery: Rhodiola Rosea aids in Neurogenesis through the repair and growth of new neurons. It activates the synthesis and re-synthesis of ATP , which is your main source of energy. Rhodiola Rosea reduces inflammation of C-reactive proteins. salidroside is one component of this amazing herb that protects neurons against oxidative stress-induced cell deaths.
What is Rhodiola Rosea?
Rhodiola Rosea (Golden Roots, Roseroots, Arctic Roots) has been used in traditional medicine for many thousand years. It is found in high altitudes at high elevations in the arctic regions of Europe and Asia.
Rhodiola rosea, an arctic root, growing on a Siberia rock
It can grow to 12-30 inches tall and bears yellow blossoms. Dioscorides, a Greek physician, was the first to record the medicinal uses of’rodia riza in 77 C.E. in De Materia Medica.
This ancient herb adaptogen is known for its remarkable anti-depressant as well as anti-anxiety properties. It has been proven to be as effective as prescription pharmaceuticals for treating Depression as well as Anxiety .
Rhodiola Rosea has 140 compounds in its roots and rhizome. Rosavin, rosarian and rosin are the key components, collectively called rosavins.
Rhodiola Rosea must have certain chemicals. These chemicals include rosavin and rosin. Rhodiola rosea contains the first three of these compounds. This herb can only be effective if there is a combination of all these chemicals.
You must ensure that the supplement you select works well and contains pure Rhodiola Rosea. It should be standardized to at least 3% roseins and 1 % salidronide. This is the same ratio as in the natural root.
Study of organs, tissues and cells has shown that Rhodiola Rosea extracts have adaptogenic properties that are neuroprotective and cardio protective as well as anti-depressive and anxiolytic.
Rhodiola Rosea has been described as a powerful adaptogen. This means it helps you adapt to stress, both mentally and physically. In other words, adaptogens make the body’s stress response stronger and more robust, which means you are less affected by stress when it inevitably occurs.
What does Rhodiola Rosea do in the Brain?
Rhodiola Rosea improves brain function and health in many ways. Two stand out in particular.
- Rhodiola Rosea enhances mood. According to clinical trials and reports from the nootropics community Rhodiola Rosea promotes a balanced mood.
A double-blind placebo-controlled study was conducted with male and female subjects between the ages of 18 and 70. All of the subjects were diagnosed with mild-to-moderate depression.
Two daily 340mg tablets of Rhodiola Rosea extract were given to one group. The second group received twice the daily dose of the first group. The third group was given a placebo every day.
On the first day, SHR-5 extract was evaluated for its efficacy in treating depression symptoms. The trial was repeated on day 42. According to the research team, Groups A and C saw significant improvements in depression and insomnia, as well as emotions, and overall quality of living.
The team concluded that Rhodiola rosea extract is powerful in reducing depression in people with mild to moderate. When taken in 6-weekly doses of 340 mg or 680mg.
- Rhodiola Rosea improves mental performance in stressful situations Mind fog can lead to mental fatigue and make it difficult to focus. It can impact your work performance and school performance.
Rhodiola Rosea boosts your nervous system and fights fatigue that can impede mental clarity. Studies show that it even helps to save injured neurons . It encourages brain cell growth and development.
One study was done in China to determine the effect of Rhodiola Rosea in reducing the number of neurons within the Hippocampus rats suffering from depression.
This study shows a direct correlation between Rhodiola Rosea and the human brain. Its potential as a nootropic. This study involved 50 rats being divided into five groups: untreated, normal, untreated and negative controls, as well as positive control and Rhodiola rosea-treated groups.
The researchers found that the number of neurons in the hippocampus was increased , and then recovered to their normal levels.
According to the study, Rhodiola Rosea stimulates the growth and differentiation of neural stem cell in the hippocampus. It may also play a role saving the neurons infected by the hippocampus.
Stress, Cortisol & Cognitive Function
Long-term stress or cortisol may cause brain damage. Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley found that chronic stress can cause long-term brain damage .
Chronic stress can cause damage to the neural network. Cortisol causes a domino effect, which hard-wires the pathways between the amygdala and hippocampus. The amygdala (lizard brain), is responsible for your fight or flight response.
This stress-induced hardwiring is and not as the brain was intended. Chronic, persistent stress can trick the brain into rebuilding its circuits and staying put for the long-term.
This seems to be permanent. Unless Rhodiola Rosea intervenes.
Chronic stress appears to “flip a switch” in stem cells in our brains. They become a cell type that blocks connections to the prefrontal cortex. Preventing better learning and memory.
This lays the foundations for anxiety, depression, and mood disorders further down the road. There is a strong negative feedback loop between stress, chronic anxiety, and poor cognitive function. It goes something like this:
- Chronic stress reduces levels of serotonin, dopamine, and BDNF
- This reduces cognitive activity and neuron growth
- Reduced neuron growth means impaired memory function, slowing data processing and poor focus
- Poor cognitive function reduces productivity, which increases stress and anxiety
- Lower levels of BDNF are associated with poor stress tolerance and high anxiety
Mental and physical fatigue can also be caused by chronic stress and excessive cortisol. This will have obvious negative effects on focus, memory and learning, not to mention mental energy and productivity.
This is why so many people seek out nootropics to help combat stress and anxiety. There are a lot of substances out there which manufacturers claim are effective for reducing stress and anxiety, but few really work. That said, there are a handful of genuinely effective nootropics which can naturally reduce stress and anxiety levels, elevate mood, and increase motivation.
Rhodiola Rosea Benefits
Rhodiola Rosea prevents brain damage from chronic stress. It keeps your brain healthy. It can even help improve your brain’s stress response.
Rhodiola Rosea helps relieve stress by balancing the body’s stress response system. And helps your body return to a relaxed state by influencing key brain chemicals like serotonin, norepinephrine and beta-endorphins (opioid neuropeptides). It is what we call an adaptogen, which essentially means it makes your body more robust to stress, both in terms of the physical response your body has and how it copes with the mental effects of anxiety.
Because the main benefit of Rhodiola rosea is that it makes you more resistant to the effects of stress, it is best used pre-emptively. While Rhodiola can lower anxiety levels once you are already anxious, it is much more effective when it is used to stop stress levels from climbing in the first place.
Aside from protecting against mental and physical stress, Rhodiola rosea use has several other benefits.
Rhodiola rosea can also prevent or repair damage from C-reactive proteins and free radicals.
Rhodiola rosea can even protect and regenerate neurons during times of stress. It aids in the synthesis and regeneration of ATP. It is the main source of fuel for the mitochondria cells.
Rhodiola Rosea can help with any type of fatigue, regardless of its source. This herb can increase your mood, energy, stamina, and content.
Many neurohackers report that Rhodiola Rosea has improved their sexual performance and libido.
You should feel an effect if you take an effective amount of real standardized Rhodiola Rosea Extract.
What Does Rhodiola Rosea feel like?
Your genetics, mental, and physical conditions, lifestyle, and behavior will all influence the time it takes to feel the benefits of Rhodiola rosea.
Neurohackers have reported feeling the effects within a matter of days. Others may need up to 3 weeks. Clinical studies have shown that the majority of people feel the full benefits from Rhodiola rosea within 30-40 days.
Many people report that Rhodiola Rosea has a strong anti-anxiety effect. This effect is noticeable, with people feeling notable drops in anxiety and stress levels within a few hours of taking Rhodiola rosea for the first time.
Contrary to popular belief, Rhodiola rosea does not make you feel sleepy. Rhodiola is not a sedative or depressant, so it does not make people feel drowsy or sleepy in any way. It may aid sleep by promoting a calm, clear mind, but that’s all. Rhodiola Rosea can actually give you energy boost, making you feel more motivated, energetic and awake (due to lower stress levels). It can improve your mood, focus level, concentration, and alertness.
Rhodiola Rosea might not work for you if you don’t see any changes within 40 days.Typically people can feel the effects of Rhodiola rosea after just an hour or two, but the effects do get stronger with time, so we recommend taking it on a regular basis.
Rhodiola rosea Clinical Research
Rhodiola Rosea is a well-known nootropic for its anti-fatigue and energizing qualities.
A double-blind placebo-controlled study was conducted with 161 cadets ranging in age from 19 to 21 years. It was intended to assess the effects of Rhodiola Rosea extract (SHR-5) on mental work capacity against a background that included fatigue and stress.
The second objective was to test two different dosages of the extract. The 50% higher was the other dose. The cadets received either 2 or 3 capsules with Rhodiola Rosea extract.
Study results showed that the cadets had a ” pronounced Anti-fatigue Effect“. There were no significant differences in the dosages. There were no significant differences between the two dosage groups.
Rhodiola Rosea as a nootropic
Rhodiola rosea is easily one of the best nootropics in existence. While it does not enhance focus or increase processing speeds like other cognitive enhancers, Rhodiola rosea does signifciantly improve overall cognitive function by suppressing stress and anxiety levels.
The reason why Rhodiola rosea is one of the best natural nootropics for anxiety is because it has some of the most robust scientific backing.There are dozens of high quality clinical trials showing Rhodiola rosea to be effective for enhancing brain health, memory, focus, learning and mood.
One study examined the effects of Rhodiola Rosea extract (SHR-5) on mental performance in fatigued physicians. Researchers recruited 56 young, healthy physicians who worked night shift at the Armenian State Medical University. The tests included associative thinking and overall mental fatigue, as well as short-term memory, calculation, concentration, speed and ability to hear-visual perception.
Three periods of two weeks each were used to test the doctors before and after work. For the first two weeks, the young doctors were given Rhodiola Rosea tablets or a placebo. Then came a 2-week ‘washout’ period. Then, you can finish with 2 weeks of Rhodiola Rosea extract tablets (or a placebo).
The first two weeks saw a statistically significant improvement on cognitive tests. There were no side effects. The young doctors experienced a decrease in fatigue when working under stressful conditions.
There are lots of robust clinical trials showing great results from Rhodiola rosea use, especially when it’s used on a consistent, daily basis. The most significant improvements in memory, focus and overall mental performance come when Rhodiola rosea is used during stressful periods of intense anxiety. For optimal results, Rhodiola rosea should be used long-term.
Rhodiola Rosea is anantidepressant
A “proof of Concept” study was published in Phytomedicine to compare Rhodiola Rosea to the antidepressant sertraline for major depression.
Sertraline/Zoloft is a pharmaceutical SSRI that can be used to treat depression, anxiety and panic attacks. It can cause fatigue, confusion, nausea, vomiting, convulsions and ejaculation failure, as well as anorexia, anorexia, convulsions and fatigue.
The trial involved 57 patients with depression. For 12 weeks, they were treated with standardized Rhodiola Rosea extract or sertraline. During the trial, three different depression scoring tests were used.
Researchers concluded that Rhodiola Rosea had a lower antidepressant effect then sertraline. However, it was more tolerated and caused fewer adverse reactions. The research team concluded that Rhodiola had less anti-depressant properties than sertraline, but it still offered more benefits for people with mild to moderate depression. Rhodiola rosea produced significant improvements in depressive symptoms. This lines up with other studies showing Rhodiola rosea having benefits for people with depressive disorders and depression-like symptoms.
Of course, this does not mean that Rhodiola rosea is an adequate treatment for depression. While it is being studied for use in the treatment of mood disorders, including major depression, it has not been deemed sufficient to help control mood disorders. It is also important that you don’t take Rhodiola rosea with your current anti-depressants in case there are any interactions; talk to your doctor first!
Rhodiola Rosea Dosage: How much should you take?
The recommended daily intake of Rhodiola rosea is 150-200 mg. This Rhodiola dosage produces significant reductions in stress and anxiety levels without causing any stomach discomfort or other side effects.
You should look for extracts that are standardized to contain Rosavins as well as Salidrosides at a ratio of 3:1. This is similar to the natural ratio of these compounds found in Rhodiola Rosea root, and it appears to be the most effective way to take Rhodiola rosea for nootropic benefits.
Taking more than 1,000 mg daily does not seem to provide any additional benefits, and may only increase the risk of side effects. Taking less than about 75mg of Rhodiola rosea per day is likely not going to produce any reductions in stress or improvements in mood, even if taken long-term.
Rhodiola Rosea Side Fffects
Rhodiola rosea, a natural adaptogen herb, has been successfully used for thousands of years. It is considered safe and non-toxic. Very few side effects have ever been reported in clinical trials done on Rhodiola rosea. Of all of the studies looking at Rhodiola rosea’s efficacy as a nootropic there are practically none which reported any notable side effects at all. As most of these trials have lasted around 4 weeks, it is generally considered safe to take Rhodiola rosea on a daily basis for at least 28 days.
That said, Rhodiola rosea side effects can occur. These side effects are rare and generally mild. They invariably go away immediately once you stop taking Rhodiola rosea. The most common Rhodiola rosea side effects include:
- Stomach upset
- Difficulty sleeping
In rare cases, Rhodiola rosea has been known to make anxiety worse. Some people find that Rhodiola rosea use depresses mood, makes them feel lethargic, and kills motivation. That said, these side effects are all taken from reports by users who have been taking several nootropics at the same time, and may also be using other substances too. As far as the clinical data goes, the only side effects of Rhodiola rosea are those listed above.
Rhodiola rosea is a Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitor. You should not use it if taking MAOI meds. MAOI’s can be used to treat panic disorder, bipolar disorder, and PTSD. MAOI meds can influence serotonin levels within the brain. Combining MAOI’s with Rhodiola Rosea can cause Serotonin Syndrome. It is not recommended to take Rhodiola rosea with MOAI’s or any other type of anti-depressant or sedative medication. Rhodiola may interact with your anti-depressants, making them over or under active.
Where To Buy Rhodiola Rosea
Rhodiola Rosea can be purchased in powder, capsules or tablets.
rosavins, salidrosides are the active ingredients in Rhodiola Rosea. You should always check the label for the percentage of active ingredients.
Ideal is a ratio of rosavins to salidrosides at 3:1. This is the same ratio as the Rhodiola Rosea root naturally contains these compounds.
Brian Johnson is current Editor of Vagarights.com and a long-time writer for VAGA. A former psychologist, Brian is passionate about improving mental health and finding ways to stave off cognitive decline. He is an expert on nootropics, cognitive enhancement and biohacking more broadly. You can see his work on Google scholar.