Contributed by Dori Cranmore R.N.
Rhodiola rosea is not a common herb, but it’s getting more popular every year. It typically grows at high altitudes in the Arctic and mountainous regions throughout Europe and Asia, and has over 200 different species. Rhodiola rosea is now being grown and harvested in Alaska under the Alaska Grown label and is available at All About Herbs,Inc. in Wasilla.
One of Rhodiola’a attributes is that it is an adaptogenic herb. This means that it acts in non-specific ways to increase our body’s resistance to stress, without disturbing normal biological functions. There are many recognized herbs that are considered adaptogens: ginsengs, licorice root, maca, holy basil, schisandra, cordyceps, ashwagandha, Reishi mushrooms and my all time favorite - rhodiola.
Russia and Scandinavia have been studying rhodiola intensely for thirty-five years. They use it as a tonic, tea or supplement for fatigue, poor attention span, decreased memory, to help make workers more productive and to increase the capacity for mental work.
The Journal of the American Botanical Council, reports that numerous studies of rhodiola in both humans and animals have indicated that it helps prevent fatigue, stress and the damaging effects of oxygen deprivation. Evidence also suggests that it acts as an antioxidant, enhances immune system function and can increase sexual energy.
Rhodiola appears to be able to significantly reduce the effects of prolonged and minor physical exhaustion that results in fatigue. Some research has shown rhodiola’s ability to inhibit estrogen binding to a receptor and instead increased the metabolism of estradiol, thus labeling it as anti-estrogenic.
Because of the mild stimulant effect, some may note when taking rhodiola it has been used successfully to cycle off caffeine. Trying to quit smoking? Rhodiola has shown to greatly suppress physical symptoms of nicotine withdrawal. Dosage ranges from 50mg up to 600mg a day. It is recommended to not exceed 600mg, as higher doses may be ineffective. Rhodiola acts as a stimulant when taken in small doses and a relaxant when taken in larger doses. The tea is made with the ground root and is steeped (brewed) for four hours. Rhodiola is not advised for pregnant women or those with bipolar disorder.
Rhodiola rosea is not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to cure, treat or prevent disease. In fact, the FDA has forcibly removed some products containing Rhodiola rosea from the market due to disputed claims that it treats cancer, anxiety, influenza, the common cold, bacterial infections and migraines. Lucky us in Alaska, to have it grown and harvested in our fine state!
Dori Cranmore is a registered nurse and owner of All About Herbs Inc. Call 376-8327 for questions or a personalized consult.