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Plant Part Used


Active Constituents

Phenylpropenoids (including rosavin, rhosavidin, rhodiolosid, salidrosid);(1),(2) additional constituents are tyrosol and cinnamic alcohol, essential oil, anthraglycosides, beta-sitosterin, daucosterol, monoterpenes, flavonoids, and 16-18% tannins.

[span class=alert]This section is a list of chemical entities identified in this dietary supplement to possess pharmacological activity. This list does not imply that other, yet unidentified, constituents do not influence the pharmacological activity of this dietary supplement nor does it imply that any one constituent possesses greater influence on the overall pharmacological effect of this dietary supplement.[/span]


Rhodiola has been used in traditional folk medicine in China, Serbia, and the Carpathian Mountains of the Ukraine. In the former Soviet Union, it has been used as an adaptogen, decreasing fatigue and increasing the body’s natural resistance to various stresses. In Siberia it is said that, "those who drink rhodiola tea regularly will live more than 100 years." Rhodiola also has been traditionally used in sexual disorders in men and women. In the former Soviet Union, a favorite form of the herb is a tincture called "nastojka", prepared by combining the fresh roots of rhodiola with 40% alcohol and allowing the mixture to sit for one week. A teaspoonful of the resulting "nastojka" after breakfast, lunch, and dinner is prescribed for those experiencing sexual disturbances.

Rhodiola seems to enhance the body's physical and mental work capacity and productivity, with actions related to strengthening the nervous system, fighting depression, enhancing immunity, elevating the capacity for exercise, enhancing memorization, improving energy levels, and possibly prolonging the life span.(3),(20) In Siberia, it was taken regularly especially during the cold and wet winters to prevent sickness. In Mongolia, it was used for the treatment of tuberculosis and cancer.

Interactions and Depletions


Dosage Info

Dosage Range

150-680mg (standardized extract) daily.

Most Common Dosage

150mg (standardized to 5% rosavins), 2 times a day OR 340mg (Standardized to 1% rosavins) daily.


[span class=doc]Standardization represents the complete body of information and controls that serve to enhance the batch to batch consistency of a botanical product, including but not limited to the presence of a marker compound at a defined level or within a defined range.[/span]

The most current available medical and scientific literature indicates that this dietary supplement should be standardized to 3.6-5% rosavins and 0.8-3% salidrosides.


Frequently Reported Uses

  • Adaptogen, Tonic
  • Improve energy and stamina
  • Enhancement Of Sports Performance; ergogenic
  • Increases Stamina, Endurance

Other Reported Uses

  • Antioxidant
  • Chemotherapy And Radiation Protection
  • Immune Enhancing
  • Hypoglycemic Activity
  • Increases Female And Male Sexual Vitality
  • Cardiovascular Support (Angioplasty, Angina, Bypass)
  • Depression
  • Cardiac Arrhythmias

Toxicities & Precautions


No known toxicity in recommended dosages.

Pregnancy/ Breast Feeding

If pregnant or nursing, consult a physician before use.

Age Limitations

Do not use in children under 2 years of age unless recommended by a physician.


Adaptogenic Effects

The effect of rhodiola on learning and memory and in decreasing the effects of chronic stress has been studied in laboratory animals.(4),(22) Several methods of active avoidance with negative and positive reinforcements were used, as well as passive avoidance. Rhodiola extract was reported to improve learning and retention after 24 hours. Significant improvement of long-term memory was also established in memory tests after a 10-day treatment with the same dose of the extract (0.1ml of a 1:1w/v). Like Siberian ginseng, rhodiola is routinely used by athletes in the former Soviet Union to improve performance. While the mechanism is not completely understood, rhodiola seems to improve the ratio of muscle to fat, decreases the time to shift to a fat burning metabolism, and increases hemoglobin and erythrocyte levels in the blood.

A double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study reported that an extract of rhodiola root had stimulating and normalizing activity in students during a stressful examination and had positive effects on physical fitness, mental fatigue and neuro-motoric tests. Also, a self-assessment of the general well-being of each individual was also significantly higher than placebo.(5) Another study investigated the effect of repeated low-dose treatment with a standardized extract of rhodiola on fatigue during night duty among a group of 56 young, healthy physicians.(6) The authors reported that rhodiola can reduce general fatigue under certain stressful conditions.

A 2009 phase III clinical trial found that a standardized rhodiola extract had anti-fatigue activity that increases mental performance, particularly the ability to concentrate, and decreases cortisol response to awakening stress in burnout patients with fatigue syndrome.(23) An extract of rhodiola in combination with vitamins/minerals was administered to 120 adults aged 50-89 years and reported to improve cognition in 81% of patients.(24) Rhodiola has also been reported to increase exercise endurance in humans.

For the treatment of depression, extracts of rhodiola, namely rosavin and salidroside, in animal studies seem to enhance the transport of serotonin precursors, tryptophan, and 5-hydroxytryptophan into the brain and decrease the action of COMT (catechol-O-methyltransferase), an enzyme that degrades serotonin.(7)

A clinical study found that an extract of rhodiola (SHR-5) significantly improved generalized anxiety disorder symptoms, with a reduction in HARS scores similar to that found in clinical trials.(25) Russian scientists have used rhodiola alone or in combination with antidepressants to enhance mental state and decrease the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) common to Northern European countries.


Rhodiola has been reported to be antiarrhythmic in both human and animal subjects.(8),(9),(26) The antiarrhythmic effect of rhodiola is reported to be associated with the induction of opioid peptide biosynthesis, specifically kappa-OR.(10),(11) Rhodiola was found to prevent stress-induced cardiac damage.(12) It was concluded that rhodiola may prevent both stress-induced catecholamine release and higher cAMP levels in the myocardium. The findings suggest that the antistressor and cardioprotective effects of rhodiola are associated with limited anti-adrenergic effects on the heart.


Rhodiola extracts have been reported to be chemoprotective when used with cyclophosphamide.(13) The extract and derivative were reported to protect the myelopoietic tissue from the toxic action of cyclophosphamide, retaining or increasing the suppressive effect of the latter towards clonogenic tumor cells. Russians have used this data to support rhodiola’s use as a biological response modifier during antitumor chemotherapy.(14) It was found that Rhodiola rosea extracts significantly reduce the yield of cells with chromosome aberrations and micronuclei induced by cyclophosphamide in vivo and inhibit unscheduled DNA synthesis induced by NMU in vitro.(15) It is postulated that Rhodiola rosea extracts are antimutagenic due to their ability to raise the efficiency of intracellular DNA repair mechanisms. Other mechanisms include induction of apoptosis in cancer cells.(27)

Rhodiola has also been reported to decrease the toxicity of Adriamycin in mice with metastatic carcinoma.(16) Adriamycin can be involved in producing liver dysfunction, as usually seen by a sharp increase in blood transaminase levels. Rhodiola extract was reported to decrease this toxicity and inhibit tumor dissemination. Combined application of Adriamycin and the rhodiola extract proved effective in terms of antimetastatic efficacy and was nearly free from toxicity. Another laboratory study reported that use of rhodiola extract increased the antitumor and antimetastatic effects of cyclophosphan (cyclophosphamide).(17) Use of the herb extract could have promise as a hepatoprotective agent during chemotherapy protocols

Other Uses

In animal experiments, rhodiola extract increased blood insulin and decreased glucagon levels, resulting in a 50 to 80 percent increase in liver glycogen where excess sugar is stored. This information suggests that rhodiola extracts may help normalize blood sugar levels and decrease insulin resistance.(18)

Rhodiola is also reported to have antioxidant activity in laboratory and human studies, most likely due to the cinnamic alcohol content.(19) A small human trial found that rhodiola increased antioxidant levels in plasma of professional rowers.(28)

Laboratory studies have found that salidroside from Rhodiola possesses antiviral activities against coxsackievirus B3 and may represent a potential therapeutic agent for viral myocarditis.(29)

Laboratory studies have reported rhodiola may be useful in opiate addiction and nicotine withdrawal.(22),(30)


  1. Saratikov AS, et al. Rhodiolosid, A New Glycoside from Rhodiola rosea and Its Pharmacological Properties. Pharmazie. Jul1968;23(7):392-95.
  2. Thieme H. On the Identity of Glucoside Rhodioloside and Salidroside. Pharmazie. Feb1969;24(2):118-19.
  3. View Abstract: Rege NN, et al. Adaptogenic Properties of Six Rasayana Herbs Used in Ayurvedic Medicine. Phytother Res. Jun1999;13(4):275-91.
  4. View Abstract: Petkov VD, et al. Effects of Alcohol Aqueous Extract From Rhodiola rosea L. Roots On Learning and Memory. Acta Physiol Pharmacol Bulg. 1986;12(1):3-16.
  5. View Abstract: Spasov AA, Wikman GK, Mandrikov VB, et al. A double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study of the stimulating and adaptogenic effect of Rhodiola rosea SHR extract on the fatigue of students caused by stress during an examination period with a repeated low-dose regimen. Phytomedicine. Apr2000;7(2):85-9.
  6. View Abstract: Darbinyan V, Kteyan A, Panossian A, et al. Rhodiola rosea in Stress Induced Fatigue--A Double Blind Coss-over Study of a Standardized Extract SHR-5 with a Repeated Low-dose Regimen on the Mental Performance of Healthy Physicians During Night Duty. Phytomedicine. Oct2000;7(5):365-71.
  7. Saratikov AS, et al. Rhodiola rosea Is a Valuable Medicinal Plant. Tomsk State Medicinal University, Russia: Russian Academy of Medicinal Sciences; 1987.
  8. View Abstract: Lishmanov Iu B, et al. The Anti-arrhythmia Effect of Rhodiola rosea and Its Possible Mechanism. Biull Eksp Biol Med. Aug1993;116(8):175-76.
  9. Maslov LN, et al. Mechanism of The Anti-arrhythmic Effect of Rhodiola rosea Extract. Biull Eksp Biol Med. Apr1998;125(4):424-26.
  10. View Abstract: Lishmanov Iu B, et al. Contribution of The Opioid System to Realization of Inotropic Effects of Rhodiola rosea Extracts In Ischemic and Reperfusion Heart Damage In Vitro. Eksp Klin Farmakol. May1997;60(3):34-36.
  11. View Abstract: Maimeskulova LA, et al. The Participation of the Mu-, Delta- and Kappa-opioid Receptors in the Realization of the Anti-arrhythmia Effect of Rhodiola rosea. Eksp Klin Farmakol. Jan1997;60(1):38-39.
  12. View Abstract: Maslova LV, et al. The Cardioprotective and Antiadrenergic Activity of An Extract of Rhodiola rosea In Stress. Eksp Klin Farmakol. Nov1994;57(6):61-63.
  13. Udintsev SN, et al. Decrease of Cyclophosphamide Haematotoxicity by Rhodiola rosea Root Extract In Mice With Ehrlich and Lewis Transplantable Tumors. Eur J Cancer. 1991;27(9):1182.
  14. View Abstract: Udintsev SN, et al. Changes In Clonogenic Properties of Bone Marrow and Transplantable Mice Tumor Cells During Combined Use of Cyclophosphane and Biological Response Modifiers of Adaptogenic Origin. Eksp Onkol. 1990;12(6):55-56.
  15. View Abstract: Salikhova RA, et al. Effect of Rhodiola rosea On The Yield of Mutation Alterations and DNA Repair In Bone Marrow Cells. Patol Fiziol Eksp Ter. Oct1997;(4):22-24.
  16. Udinstev SN, et al. The Enhancement of The Efficacy of Adriamycin by Using Hepatoprotectors of Plant Origin In Metastases of Ehrlich's Adenocarcinoma to the Liver In Mice. Vopr Onkol. 1992;38(10):1217-22.
  17. View Abstract: Udintsev SN, Shakhov VP. Changes in clonogenic properties of bone marrow and transplantable mice tumor cells during combined use of cyclophosphane and biological response modifiers of adaptogenic origin. Eksp Onkol. 1990;12(6):55-6.
  18. View Abstract: Molokovskii DS, et al. The Action of Adaptogenic Plant Preparations in Experimental Alloxan Diabetes. Probl Endokrinol. (Mosk). Nov1989;35(6):82-87.
  19. View Abstract: Bol’shakova IV, et al. Antioxidant Properties of a Series of Extracts From Medicinal Plants. Biofizika. Mar1997;42(2):480-83.
  20. Walker TB, Robergs RA. Does Rhodiola rosea possess ergogenic properties? Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. Jun 2006;16(3):305-315. Review.
  21. Mattioli L, Perfumi M. Effects of a Rhodiola rosea L. extract on acquisition and expression of morphine tolerance and dependence in mice. J Psychopharmacol. 8 Feb 2010. [Epub ahead of print]
  22. Mattioli L, Funari C, Perfumi M. Effects of Rhodiola rosea L. extract on behavioural and physiological alterations induced by chronic mild stress in female rats. J Psychopharmacol. Mar 2009;23(2):130-142. Epub 2008 May 30.
  23. Olsson EM, von Schéele B, Panossian AG. A randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-group study of the standardised extract shr-5 of the roots of Rhodiola rosea in the treatment of subjects with stress-related fatigue. Planta Med. Feb 2009;75(2):105-112. Epub 2008 Nov 18.
  24. Fintelmann V, Gruenwald J. Efficacy and tolerability of a Rhodiola rosea extract in adults with physical and cognitive deficiencies. Adv Ther. Jul-Aug 2007;24(4):929-939.
  25. Bystritsky A, Kerwin L, Feusner JD. A Pilot Study of Rhodiola rosea (Rhodax(R)) for Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). J Altern Complement Med. 2008;14(2):175-180.
  26. Maslov LN, Lishmanov IuB. [Cardioprotective and antiarrhythmic properties of Rhodiolae roseae preparations] Eksp Klin Farmakol. Sep-Oct 2007;70(5):59-67. Review. Russian.
  27. Majewska A, Hoser G, Furmanowa M, et al. Antiproliferative and antimitotic effect, S phase accumulation and induction of apoptosis and necrosis after treatment of extract from Rhodiola rosea rhizomes on HL-60 cells. J Ethnopharmacol. 3Jan2006;103(1):43-52. Epub 19 Sep 2005. Erratum in: J Ethnopharmacol. 6 Apr 2006;104(3):433.
  28. Skarpanska-Stejnborn A, Pilaczynska-Szczesniak L, Basta P, Deskur-Smielecka E. The influences of supplementation with Rhodiola rosea L. extract on selected redox parameters in professional rowers. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. Apr 2009;19(2):186-199.
  29. Wang H, Ding Y, Zhou J, Sun X, Wang S. The in vitro and in vivo antiviral effects of salidroside from Rhodiola rosea L. against coxsackievirus B3. Phytomedicine. Mar 2009;16(2-3):146-155. Epub 2008 Sep 24.
  30. Mattioli L, Perfumi M. Evaluation of Rhodiola rosea L. extract on affective and physical signs of nicotine withdrawal in mice. J Psychopharmacol. 25 Nov 2009. [Epub ahead of print]

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