Discovered in 1947 by the Russian scientist Dr Nicolai Lazarev, who in fact coined the term “adaptogen”, certain plants were studied for their outstanding stress-protective and immune boosting qualities. Rhodiola Rosea was a “second generation” adaptogen (the first generation being members of the Ginseng family), and has been used by the Siberian peoples for time immemorial to cope with the cold Siberian climate and the stresses of living in such an extreme environment.
Rhodiola's adaptogenic benefits partly stem from a phytochemical it contains - salisdroside - a compound that relieves anxiety and stress. Rhodiola helps to balance cortisol levels - the stress hormone - in the body. If they are too high it can bring it down, conversely if they are too low it can bring them up, this is the power of an adaptogen.
Rhodiola repairs exhausted and burnt out adrenals, making it highly effective to combat stress, fatigue, anxiety and worry. It enhances wellbeing by supporting two neurotransmitters that are essential for mood and mental function - serotonin and dopamine. These neurotransmitters are crucial to sharp focus and memory and have a huge impact on the ability to stimulate feelings of happiness.
Rhodiola Rosea has been extensively researched for its promising effects on anti-aging and longevity. Research suggests that its key active constituents; salidroside and several rosavin compounds are responsible for this herb's longevity effects. Salidroside has been found to protect human cells from premature aging when exposed to oxidative stress. This is especially true of skin cells, it preserves aging skin cells' ability to divide thus maintaining healthy glowing skin.
Rhodiola works through various pathways to naturally energise and give the immune system a boost. Recent studies suggest that Rhodiola also prevents endothelial dysfunction - a process that can lead to high blood pressure and athersclerosis (hardening of the arteries).
If you want to stay mentally sharp well into old age then Rhodiola Rosea's adaptogenic qualities supercharge the brain and nervous system, helping you to stay strong not only physically but mentally and emotionally too.
Used by the Russian Olympic Team to maximise their potential in athletics and body building, Rhodiola Rosea helps to increase stamina and endurance by increasing red blood cell count and lowering oxidative damage. With red blood cells main job being to carry oxygen to muscles, having a higher count can dramatically improve athletic performance and help to delay fatigue.
Rhodiola is also a powerful anti-inflammatory, aiding in the rapid recovery of muscles and improved endurance. It has been found to increase synthesis of ATP – the energy currency of the cell – producing more energy for power and endurance.
Folklore and history
In 1725, the Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus gave the herb its modern name, Rhodiola rosea, and recommended it as a treatment for hernia, hysteria, headache, and vaginal discharge. Fifty years later, it earned a place in the first Swedish pharmacopoeia, a complete listing of all medicinal preparations.
Used as medicine by the Ancient Greeks, in 77 AD the Greek physician Dioscorides documented the medical applications of the Rhodiola Rosea in his classic medical text De Materia Medica.
In the 13th century BCE around the time of the Greek Bronze Age, Rhodiola travelled more than 2,000 miles from the remote Caucasus Mountains to ancient Greece with trading expeditions that crossed the Aegean Sea to a land called Colchis, in what is now the Republic of Georgia.
The people of central Asia considered a tea brewed from Rhodiola Rosea to be the most effective treatment for cold and flu. Mongolian physicians prescribed it for tuberculosis and cancer.
Native to Siberia, Rhodiola Rosea has a long and enduring history as a herbal adaptogen. It was used by the Vikings to enhance physical strength and endurance and Chinese Emperors used to send expeditions to bring back this “golden root” to be used in medicinal preparations.
A common saying in Siberia is, “People who drink Rhodiola Rosea will live to be over 100”, and it is still given to newlyweds to ensure fertility and the birth of healthy children. A closely guarded secret among many Siberian families, Rhodiola Rosea has been used for centuries in the traditional medicine of Russia and Scandinavia.
Rhodiola rosea Herbal Tincture
Suggested dosage - Take 1 to 4ml once or twice a day or use as directed by a herbal practitioner.
Rhodiola rosea Herbal Powder
Suggested dosage - Take 500mg to 1 gram once or twice a day or use as directed by a herbal practitioner.
Use mixed with milk, fruit juice.
Rhodiola Rosea has phenylpropanoid constitituents: rosavin, rosin, and rosarin, called collectively "rosavins".
Rhodiola rosea is very safe with very low toxicity and few side effects.