Rhodiola Rosea is member of the Crassulaceae family along with sedum. Also know as Roseroot and Golden Root the rhizome has an outer golden skin and inner pink flesh. Rhodiola grows in cold regions on rocky mountain slopes from 11,000-16,000 feet and is found throughout the world from the Arctic, Central Asia and the Rocky Mountains to the Alps, the Pyrenees, the Carpathian Mountains, Ireland and Iceland.
Traditionally, rhodiola has been used in Russian and European for thousands of years as a tonic or to relieve bronchial symptoms. More than 180 pharmacological, phytochemical and clinical studies have been published since 1960. Rhodiola Rosea is the variety most that has been most studied and used and has been certified safe for both animal and humans. Most of the studies look at rhodiola’s properties as an adaptogen. Adaptogens, a broad and beautiful category of herbs including ginseng and maca, are used to help the body regulate and adapt, by building strength, harmonizing the respiratory, cardiovascular and endocrine system. Generally they are not used in times of acute illness, rather when there is relative health that we can build.
Rhodiola as an adaptogen
Adaptogens help maintain the body’s homeo-dynamic balance, helping us maintain a state of health. They assist us in adapting to change due to stress or weather and increase our resistance to disease. Adaptogens generally have little to no toxicity or side effects at normal dosages.
Rhodiola Rosea also regulates leukocyte (white blood cell) count, blood glucose, and promotes protein hydrolysis; it enhances the functions of the thyroid gland, adrenals, and ovaries. Recent studies indicate that rhodiola helps increase tolerance to hypoxia, microwave irradiation, strychnine poisoning and other toxins.
Rhodiola protects the brain by inhibiting the enzymatic decline of neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, due to excessive stress hormone release. Studies indicate that the herb can enhance transport of serotonin’s precursors into the brain increasing overall brain serotonin levels by up to 30%. Combined with Hippophae, Rhodiola is currently being used in the treatment of altitude sickness.
The active constituents of Rhodiola include: flavonoids (quercetin, rutin, and kaempferol), condensed flavonoids (polyphenols, mainly gallic acid and epigallocatechin), cyanoglycosides (histamine response inhibitors), and rosea, which is deemed the main active ingredient by nearly all authorities.
Asian medicine (Chinese medicine) energetics of rhodiola
Called ‘hongjingtian’ by the Chinese, (hong = red, jingtian = view of heaven, referring to its growth in high altitudes and the small cluster blossoms that look toward heaven.) 红景天. China lists nearly seventy varieties of rhodiola with recent research conducted on over 20 of these varieties.
Energetics and functions
Toxicity and side effects
None noted to date, yet most current research is aimed at Rhodiola’s adaptogenic properties rather than treatment of lung issues.
• Available in capsule or tablets.
• Look for a standardized formula with a 3:1 ratio of rosavins to salidroside. Do not use artificially synthesized forms as not all active components of Rhodiola have been identified and artificially produced forms would be lacking in unidentified components.
• Standard dose: 100 mg 2 times a day
• High doses are over 1,000 mg a day—yet no toxicity levels have been sited
• May be increase to 200 mg three times day if needed.
• Recent Swedish clinical trials for depression in 18-70 year olds sited effective results with dosages of 340-680 mg per day with no side effects demonstrated at these doses.
• Rhodiola is best avoided in anxious, hyper states and should be taken early in the day as it may interfere with sleep. Reduce or stop if you become excited or jittery.
Check with your Asian medicine practitioner or herbalist to see if rhodiola may be a match for you.
• Plants for a Future online: http://www.pfaf.org/database/plants.php?Rhodiola+rosea
• NCBI PUB/MED: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18536978
• Edible Native Plants of the Rocky Mountains: Harrington. H. D.. University of New Mexico
•Tibetan Herbal Medicine: Subhuti Dharmananda, Ph.D., Director, Institute for Traditional Medicine, Portland, Oregon
• Inner Traditions Medicine online:http://www.itmonline.org/arts/tibherbs.htm