Rhodiola Rosea and the Miracle It Brings
Rhodiola Rosea has been discovered thousands of years ago and it is being deemed as a miracle plant. Let’s dive deep into herbal medicine to fully understand how it is impacting today’s medicines.
For many years, plants have been the only source and basis of research for medical treatments. Archeologists have claimed that evidence suggested that the beginning of plant medicine dated way back to the Paleolithic age about 50-55,000 years ago. Herbal medicine’s history is closely knitted with the history of medicine itself.
It has been discovered that the use of plants as medicines goes way before the documented history of humans. Primates have been found to have medicinal plants to fight illnesses. In the northern part of Iraq, a burial site was found to have the pollen of 8 plants which is now being used for herbal remedies.
This goes to show that Paleolithic people already knew herbal medicine even way before books and history could take account of it.
Oldest Evidence of Herbal Medicine
The oldest ever evidence of the use of plants for medicine is approximately 5000 years old. It’s a procedure written on a piece of clay and has been believed to be impressed by Sumerian tribes from Nagpur. In it were 12 recipes and at 200 plus plants and alkaloid.
For the Chinese, a book as that was deemed to be as old as 2500 BC written by one Emperor Shen Nung had almost 360 dried plants which were concluded as medicinal plants used as drugs for a variety of illnesses. Many of the plants are still known today as ginseng, jimson weed, and cinnamon bark to name a few.
On the other hand, herbalism in the middle ages is quite blurry as some only claimed that the documentation from this era was only copied from the previous one. Ironically, the most notable piece of evidence within this era is a textbook called Herbarium.
Herbarium or Herbarium Vivu is a book of plants with images and descriptions as depicted by their localities. This book was preserved with the plants through the process of lithography where the plant was soaked by an ink-like substance to leave an impression on a page. The byproduct is an image that can be painted accurately. In the Herbarium, you’ll find plants, flowers, leaves, and fruits. These were all collected in the 1700s by Johann Kniphof.
As the beginning of the progression and great age of herbal medicine, the 16th and 17th centuries made way for the first English text. The first one was called Grete Herbal by John Gerard.
In India, their holy books also contained texts regarding being treated using plants and animals. India is known to be a country abundant in spices and household ingredients that we only use for food are sometimes used by Indians in medicinal concoctions. Even the Bible and holy book of the Jewish had some scriptures about many rituals that correspond to treatment using many aromatics like leaves and flowers, incense and myrtle.
Herbalism has been stemmed from different areas at different times from various parts of the world. In earlier times, every country was rich in terms of plant resources, therefore, having more herbal offerings to the world. One type of offering was in the form of a ‘golden root’, more scientifically known as Rhodiola Rosea.
What is Rhodiola Rosea?
A miracle herb is considered, Rhodiola Rosea is known by many names: golden root and Arctic root, roseroot, Aaron’s rod, king’s crown, orpin rose, lignum rhodium, Rosavin, Rosenroot, Rhodiola. It comes from the Rhodiola genera Crassulaceae family and has been discovered to be a perennial flowering plant.
Naturally, it breeds in Arctic regions of Europe, North America, and Asia. It can grow from about 5 to 45 centimeters tall. It has flowers that contain 4 petals and sepals with colors ranging from yellow to greenish-yellow with its tip a dash or red. It’s known to bloom during the summer.
Discovery of Rhodiola Rosea
Rhodiola Rosea was the name given to this root by a botanist from Sweden named Carl Linnaeus in 1725. Linnaeus is the known founder of this root crop for its medicinal purposes. He would prescribe this root for simple conditions like headaches to hallucinations and even hernias.
However, Linnaeus, despite also being known as the father of modern taxonomy, is not convincing for some as the founder of the root crop and has been challenged and argued upon by many researchers. Some have claimed that he couldn’t have been the first to discover Rhodiola Rosea for its medicinal purposes as it had already discovered in many parts of the world before he could even get his hands on it:
a. Ancient Greece
In 77 AD, an ancient Greek physician known by the name Dioscorides was believed to have some documentation on his experiments for medicinal purposes of the plant. Dioscorides called this plant Rodia Riza. In his text, De Materia Medica, he explained how the root crop was traded in expeditions in the Aegean Sea during the 13th century.
Vikings were also believed to have eaten the root for strength and stamina. They were also arguably the first people who knew of its health benefits.
Chinese emperors used to have their people prepare a special kind of tea using Rhodiola Rosea extract to heal them from illnesses like the flu. They would have their people scour the lands in search of what they would refer to as the ‘golden root’.
Families in Siberia treated this root crop as treasure and hid where they would plant it. For them, Rhodiola Rosea had properties that helped give them longer lives. Some even claim that the root would enhance the fertility of women and allow healthy birth-giving. It was given to newlyweds as a gift.
Secrecy has continued when Russian scientists also made the discovery of the root and chose not to relay it to anyone else. Behind the Iron Curtains of Russia, they used Rhodiola Rosea in many practical applications including having their Olympic athletic team administered with it. This was already in the 20th century, and their athletes all donned strength, grace, and power.
Active Chemicals found in Rhodiola Rosea
All in all, there are an estimated 140 chemicals found in this herb. However, focusing on the root alone, this leaves us with about 10 active chemicals that enable Rhodiola Rosea to be the miracle herb it is today. These include:
Phenols – these are also known as phenolic acids. They can prevent damage to the cells and function as an antioxidant which is readily absorbed by the linings of the intestinal walls. It can be used for its anti-inflammatory properties if taken daily.
Rosavin – is composed of three compounds rosavin, rosin and rosarin. It is the main phytochemical component of Rhodiola Rosea but needs to be combined with other compounds to see its effects. Some of the known benefits are that it may enhance energy levels, help with sexual stamina, enhance mood, sleep, and mental focus as well as fight off emotional stressors. This is an adaptogen that will improve overall body health.
Terpenoids – have many, many therapeutic factors like antiviral, antiparasitic, anti-inflammatory, antifungal and antioxidant. Studies also suggest that Terpenoids can regulate and increase blood flow in the brain allowing for better mental function. It is known to also exist in Cannabis which has a range of physiological, psychological and health benefits.
Flavonoids – are associated with reduced risk of heart attack, asthma, stroke, cancer, and brain damage. They are also critical in helping protect the brain. It also works as an antioxidant and flushes away free radicals that damage the cells. Flavonoids are the main reason why fruits and vegetables are good for you and your body. Some foods rich in flavonoids are apples, green tea, pomegranates, and red wine.
Anthraquinone – is known to have laxative components against constipation. It is also discovered to have anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, antimicrobial, relaxant and diuretic properties. It is known to relax and stimulate colonic muscles to allow better bowel movement. This compound is usually seen as an active ingredient in senna laxative teas.
Alkaloid – a naturally occurring compound, alkaloids have been discovered to have different activities from being anti-malaria, antiasthma, and antibacterial. Most popular alkaloids include morphine, ephedrine, and nicotine.
Tyrosol – yet another antioxidant, this substance can protect the cells from injury through oxidation. This chemical is mostly seen in olive oil and full benefits could be reaped in higher concentrations. Studies have also found that Tyrosol has cardiovascular benefits once it is converted into hydroxytyrosol.
Salidroside – has been found to help with mood and mental wellness. It is packed with amino acids as well as antioxidants. It may also help athletic people with their endurance and fat burning. More than this, some studies suggest that salidroside helps the regulation of the production of neurotransmitters, enables the repair of nerve fibers as well as act as a protective layer for cells. Another study claims that it has also enhanced cognitive brain function.
What Rhodiola Rosea does to your body
Let’s discuss the bountiful benefits of this herbal medicine to your body.
Rhodiola Rosea as a stress buster
The Rhodiola Rosea plant has been discovered long ago as a means to relieve and resist bodily stressors mainly because it is an adaptogen. Adaptogens are plants with pharmaceutical effects that work to counter the effects of stress on our bodies. Stress has been known to be one of the leading causes of heart ailments, cancer and a variety of illnesses. It targets all systems in the body and exempts no one. Luckily, the Rhodiola Rosea plant is one of three of the most potent adaptogens there is. It taps the molecular function of the body and stabilizes the ‘emotional’ glands namely: hypothalamus, pituitary, and adrenal glands.
Rhodiola Rosea as an alleviator of fatigue
Scientists in World War II used this herb to develop and formulate ways to help their pilots maintain their productivity and even increase it to new heights. They were trying to make a pill that would allow almost superhero-like qualities to be adapted by their pilots so they may be able to fly for longer periods. Upon ingesting, their pilots found to have flown longer and took longer to feel any hunger, thirst or exhaustion. Again, this ability is accounted to Rhodiola being an adaptogen.
In modern-day studies, 100 people who had chronic fatigue were tested and asked to take 400 mg of Rhodiola every day for the next 8 weeks. 100% of them have reported that they all felt more energized, with improved moods and lesser feeling of fatigue throughout the 8 weeks.
Rhodiola Rosea as an antidepressant
In a study conducted by the NCBI, 714 individuals with different forms of depression symptoms were subjected to two placebo-controlled and random testing. 146 of these were clinically diagnosed with depressive order while the rest had stress-induced depression. The results showed that Rhodiola had shown great promise in targeting multi-facets of depression and could regulate cellular response against stress, and it had an overall positive effect on the neuroendocrine and neurotransmitters which had beneficial effects on the mood.
Similar studies have deduced the positive impact of Rhodiola against insomnia and how it can regulate emotional stability.
Rhodiola Rosea as brain food
Studies also suggest that Rhodiola has a positive response on brain chemicals and allows the stimulation of happy hormones including norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine. It has also been found to help improve cognitive processing, concentration, mood, and memory. Overall it is known to help improve brain function. One study reported that a group of students who were subjected to take Rhodiola for 20 days showed improved sleeping patterns, reduced mental stress and were more motivated— their actual exams were at least 8% higher compared to the other group in the study.
Rhodiola Rosea as an energy booster
Rhodiola has been found to have the potential of increasing energy levels, which allows you to train and workout longer than before. In a study conducted on cyclists, 200 mg of Rhodiola were provided to half the group. The subjects had to undergo a cycling test wherein those who took Rhodiola prior showed an average 24-second gap from those who did not take the herb. Although this may not seem too big, a second determines the first and second placer in a cycling match.
Rhodiola Rosea as maintenance for diabetes
Although lacking clinical research on humans, animal research has suggested that Rhodiola may improve diabetes control. Rats were found to have lower blood sugar. Rhodiola does this by increasing the number of glucose transmitters in the blood, therefore, transporting more glucose into the cells in a short matter of time. Despite that this is not being conducted as human trials, this evidence alone should be compelling enough to seek out the actual effects Rhodiola has on people.
Rhodiola Rosea may have anticancer properties
Similar to the diabetes findings, the anticancer properties of Rhodiola has not been tested on human subjects. However, test tube findings indicate that it can inhibit the growth of different types of cancers like colon, breast, liver, and lung cancer cells. Because of these findings, researchers have suggested that Rhodiola will be useful against the treatment of these kinds of cancer.
How much should you take of it?
As with general guidelines, the appropriate dosage of Rhodiola Rosea you should take is dependent on a lot of factors such as your age, weight, health and if you have illnesses and other conditions. Unfortunately, at this moment, there is not enough scientific research and evidence to back the proper dosage and intake of Rhodiola.
The best thing to do is keep caution and be mindful that just because something is herbal or natural, does not mean it’s safe to take at any dose. Getting the opinion of your healthcare professional is the best advice to follow.
Risks and Warning against Rhodiola Rosea
Generally, Rhodiola is safe if taken in short-term periods orally. Studies have shown that daily doses of the herb to be used in a 6 to 12-week span are safe. However, long-term use is still unclear. Initial side effects for long term use can cause:
- dry mouth
Also, despite it being an herbal medicine, there are no studies yet to back up whether it is safe to be used by pregnant or breastfeeding mothers. In the meantime, it is best to veer away from this product.
Also, due to its lack of study, using Rhodiola if you have autoimmune diseases such as arthritis and sclerosis is not advisable as it may stimulate the immune system more. The same warning is also given to people with diabetes and low blood pressure. Those with diabetes are at risk of getting their sugar to lower levels, while those with low blood pressure who take Rhodiola might cause it to become too low.
For a 500 mg bottle of 60 capsules, the average price in the market is at around 11 USD to 16 USD; naturally, extracts with higher concentrations are more expensive at around 15 USD per 30 ml.
Where to buy Rhodiola
There is not a single store that we can recommend where you can get the best kind of Rhodiola supplements. However, to check for authenticity and to know that you are not buying a bad product, make sure you check for a USP or NSF stamp— these are indications that what you are buying does not have any mixes and only contain what is written on the labels.
Is Rhodiola for you?
As a miracle herb, you can easily be blinded by the many benefits offered by natural supplements. However, it is always best to consult your doctor before taking any type of medication, be it herbal or not.