(Russian Rhodiola, Golden root)
large proportion of all aging
diseases (perhaps 70-80%) is believed to occur because the stress level
is too high, and/or too long-term. High-stress modern living is probably
the main factor causing chronic disease and premature aging. Fortunately,
Mother Nature has an answer to this challenge - a unique class of herbal
products called "adaptogens".
Anti-Aging Medicine of 21st Century
Adaptogens have the broadest spectrum of healing properties of any herbal
medicine, but their unique value is that they specifically relieve stress.
History of Rhodiola rosea
Adaptogens were discovered in 1947 by the Russian
scientist Dr. Nicolai Lazarev, who in fact coined the name "adaptogen".
Dr. Lazarev was also the mentor of Dr. Brekhman, who conducted extensive
research on adaptogenic herbs. Dr Brekhman's first major focus was the now
well known Panax Ginseng, also called Korean or Chinese Ginseng. This worked,
but unfortunately it has a few drawbacks that have since become evident.
It sometimes has side effects such as causing constipation and over-excitement
which for some people is too stimulating. Dr. Brakhman soon moved on to
other herbs and became recognized as the world's leading expert on adaptogens.
Since then, hundreds of experimental and clinical studies on adaptogens
have been done - most of them in Russia and Germany. Most of these studies
have shown the outstanding stress-protective and immune system enhancing
capacities of adaptogens.
You may be familiar with the names of what are now called "first-generation"
adaptogens: Panax Ginseng, American Ginseng, and Eleutherococcus senticosus
(Siberian Ginseng). But in this article I want to tell you about a unique
adaptogen of the "second generation", Rhodiola rosea (Russian Rhodiola),
which is a powerful anti-aging phyto supplement with adaptogenic and anti-stress
activity. In Russia, Rhodiola rosea also known as "Golden root", has been
used for centuries to cope with the cold Siberian climate and stressful
life. But before describing this unusual herb, let's say a few words about
How do you feel?
main effects of adaptogens are an increased availability of energy during
the day, a reduction of stressed feelings, increased endurance, greater
mental alertness, and deep and restful sleep. Also, adaptogens significantly
accelerate the recovery process after illness. The author of this article
was ill for many years, and became weaker and weaker, despite trying a variety
of medicines and supplements. Doctors could not diagnose the illness, but
probably it was an autoimmune disorder, with too many symptoms to name.
One day one of my friends had sent me roots of Rhodiola rosea from Moscow
(Russia) and advised me to prepare Rhodiola water tea to drink. After some
trial and error, I found this Siberian root worked better than anything
else I had tried; and it increased the effectiveness of other supplements
as well. I decided to search to find out more about this wonderful herbal
According to modern science, adaptogens are natural plant products that
increase the body's ability to cope with internal and external stress factors,
and normalize the functions of the organism. They help maintain the stable
internal environment inside the organism known as homeostasis. An important
characteristic is that they are safe, possessing few known side effects.
info about adaptogens
three phases of stress progression
1) Alarm phase
- When some new stress factor strikes the body this causes a sudden release
of internal stress-hormones - corticosteroids and catheholamines. If the
stress is very intense it can damage the regulatory systems of the body
permanently and immediately (for example in the case of exposure to high
levels of nuclear radiation); but if one is lucky, or if the person takes
adaptogens, than it is possible to smoothly progress further to the "adaptation
2) Adaptation phase
- If the stress factor continues (for example, in sport it might be heavy
athletic training) our body learns to tolerate the stressful stimulus
- "adapt" - and increases its resistance to the stress factor. The "adaptation
phase" is usually a safe period. The longer we can stay in the "adaptation
phase", the better.
3) Finally, the exhaustion
phase appears, when the body fails to fight stress
anymore and simply gives up. In this "exhaustion phase", disease symptoms
rapidly appear and get worse.
Diseases associated with stress may appear in the first "alarm phase",
but they mainly appear in the third "exhaustion phase" when the body cannot
fight stress anymore. This third phase usually develops after a period
of months or years. Everything depends on the duration of the "adaptation
phase". Sometimes the body may be fortunate and escape this third phase
altogether, provided it can keep the stress under control. It is possible
to do this by taking adaptogens; they can help you to stay in the "adaptation
phase" for as long as possible.
extract, can make coping with stress much easier!
When regularly taking Rhodiola the initial "alarm phase" of your stress
will smoothly progress to the "adaptation phase". Rhodiola rosea can help
you to stay in this safe "adaptation phase" for a much longer time or
even permanently, so preventing your body from proceeding further to the
extremely dangerous "exhaustion phase". Where
Promising "second-generation" adaptogen Rhodiola rosea (Russian
Rhodiola) is a perennial plant with red, pink, or yellowish flowers. It
has no biological relation to the "common" rose, but due to its similar
fragrance it has been used as a substitute for Attar of Roses.
One of the greatest things Rhodiola does is enhance mental and physical
performance. It has been widely used by Russian athletes and
cosmonauts to increase energy. Rhodiola is cardio-protective, normalizing
the heart rate immediately after intense exercise. It improves the nervous
system and mental functions such as memory, by increasing blood-supply
to the muscles and brain, and it also increases protein synthesis (1,3,4).
Rhodiola rosea has extraordinary pharmacological properties as an anti-mutagen
and anti-depressive agent. In this respect Rhodiola rosea is much more
powerful than other adaptogens. In one study done by O.M. Duhan and colleagues
(5), the anti-mutagenic activities of Panax Ginseng and of Rhodiola rosea
were compared. It became clear that the extracts of Rhodiola rosea had
a higher capacity to counteract gene mutations induced by various mutagens
(up to about 90% inhibition in some cases). The anti-depressive and anti-stress
activity of Golden root is higher than that of St. John's Wort, Ginkgo
biloba and Panax Ginseng. Furthermore, Rhodiola rosea is five times less
toxic than Panax ginseng. In an experiment on rats with Pliss lymphosarcoma
(PLS) it was shown (6) that partial hepatectomy, a course application
of Rhodiola rosea extract or combined effects inhibit the growth of tumors
by 37%, 39% and 59%, respectively, and that of metastases by 42%, 50%
and 75%. In one human study (7) oral administration of Rhodiola rosea
extract to 12 patents with superficial bladder carcinoma (T1G1-2) improved
the characteristics of the urothelial tissue integration, parameters of
leukocyte integrins and T-cell immunity. The average frequency of relapses
for these patients was found to fall twice. In another clinical trial
150 individuals suffering from depression took Rhodiola rosea extracts
for a period of one month. At the end of that period two-thirds of them
had full remission of clinical manifestations of depression, and had become
more active and more sociable. Daytime weakness and general weakness disappeared.
Rhodiola rosea extracts reduce significantly the yield of cells with the
chromosome aberrations in vivo and inhibit unscheduled DNA synthesis induced
by N-nitroso-N-methylurea in vitro (8). It is emphasized that Rhodiola
rosea extracts have rejuvenative properties due to their ability to raise
the efficiency of the intracell DNA repair mechanisms. Complete
List of Scientific Articles (Abstracts)
activity - quality matters!
are products on the market that contain Rhodiola rosea. But unfortunately
these products often have only limited or even no biological activity
at all. Common reasons for these deficiencies are bad harvesting during
the wrong season, harvesting from a climatic rigion not suitable for the
plant or from a bad geographic area, harvesting wear species of the plant,
also overdrying, or using an inferior extraction method. The manufacturing
process also is a key factor in the preparation of a high quality adaptogenic
extract, as is the selection of high quality raw materials using proper
assay methods. The main active
components of true Rhodiola rosea that are responsible
for the extraordinary potency of Rhodiola rosea are cinnamol alcohol glycosides,
especially ROSAVIN -
and SALIDROSIDE. Quality Rhodiola rosea extract should
contain at least 3% rosavins and 1% or less salidroside.
rosea and immunity
rosea stimulates the immune system in two ways: FIRST - by specific direct
stimulation of immune defence (stimulates one of the most important type
of immune cells - Natural Killer Cells, NK-Cells seek and destroy the
infected cells on our bodies). Rhodiola rosea normalises the immune system
by improving T-cell immunity (7) Rhodiola has been shown to increase the
body's resistance to toxins that may accumulate during infection development.
SECOND - by making a person less susceptible to stress. Scientists found
out that stress suppresses immunity and destroys our resistance to various
forms of bacterial or virus attack. Due to the natural killer cell's effect
on tumours Rhodiola rosea may enhance B cell immunity by preventing the
suppression of B cell immunity, which can occur during stress. Being under
stress, a great portion of the body's energy is expended for nothing.
When we are chronically exposed to stress that continually robs energy
from other systems. The general effect is a lowered immune response and
For Whom Rhodiola rosea
has been used in connection with fatigue,
mental performance and athletic performance (to improve endurance).
Russian medicine has traditionally given Rhodiola rosea to its cosmonauts,
soldiers, sportsmen and ageing political leaders as an effective anti-aging
medicine. Russian Rhodiola helped them to improve cognitive functions
and physical performance.
Prevention of development of fatigue, asthenic states, catarrhal seasonal
Use in comprehensive therapy for treatment of neuroses, depression, hypotension,
and other diseases;
Restoration of health following recently endured communicable and somatic
Increased bodily resistance to physical and mental overloads, and negative
In sport - improved performance, resistance to strain, restoration of
strength with increased physical loads;
Prevention of alcohol and drug addiction;
For elderly and aged persons;
It may be successfully taken by drivers, flight personnel, traffic controllers,
as well as other professional cohorts of people occupationally engaged
in work requiring increased attention.
rosea - natural alternative to Meridia (Reductil) slimming tablets
researchers have demonstrated that intake of the herbal remedy Rhodiola
rosea activates hormone-sensitive lipase, which plays a key role in breaking
down the fat stored in adipose tissue (2).
Previous Soviet clinical studies showed that the combination of Rhodiola
rosea together with physical exercise can be a powerful tool in the activation
of fat-tissue lipase, resulting in the breakdown of stored fat. Georgian
clinical data showed that the intake of tablets of Rhodiola rosea extract
by obese subjects led to a mean weight loss of 19 pounds (11% reduction).
In a control group, in contrast, the weight change was insignificant.
The Bulgarian study suggests a detailed mechanism for the fat-loss effect
usual amounts taken are 200 to 600 mg per day of a Rhodiola rosea extract
standardized to contain 2-3% rosavins and 0.8-1% salidroside. (10) The
nonstandardized amount would be 1 gram of the root three times daily (usually
5-6 tablets per day), the amount for the alcoholic extract (40% alcohol)
is 5 to 40 drops (0.5 - 1 teaspoon) two to three times per day and for
the tea from Rhodiola rosea roots is 1 - 2 cap per day. Rhodiola is usually
taken with water before meals or at mealtimes. Please note, that Rhodiola
has a more stimulating effect at lower amounts, and a more sedating effect
at higher amounts.
effect and contraindications
Rhodiola has been the subject of many clinical studies. No side effects
or interactions have been reported. Animal studies indicate that rhodiola
has a low level of toxicity. (10)
Don't take rhodiola during pregnancy or
while breast-feeding. There is no information available about the safety
of rhodiola in pregnancy or lactation. Insomnia may be a risk with high
doses of rhodiola. A high dose is considered to be daily intakes of 1,500
to 2,000 mg and above of a Rhodiola rosea standardized extract.
There are no well-known drug or nutrient interactions associated with
Rhodiola rosea. However, much remains to be learned about this herb and
how it may interact with other adaptogens, such as Siberian ginseng, as
well as with other dietary supplements.
rosea (Russian Rhodiola) has all the advantages of Ginseng and Eleutherococcus
but lacks the tendency to cause over-excitement that may sometimes occur
with ginseng, or constipation as sometimes occurs with eleutherococcus.
Russian Rhodiola is FIVE times less potentially toxic, than Panax ginseng.
precise analytical tests done by HPLC did confirm, that only Rhodiola
rosea of Russian origin contains key active components: Rosavin, Rosarin,
so-called Rhodiola rosea formulas, sold in the United States (such as
"Tibetan" Rhodiola or "Chinese" Rhodiola) contain no activity at all,
as these formulas lack the key ingredient Rosavins while they are high
in Salidroside. Only
Rhodiola rosea of Russian origin (West and North Siberia) has the highest
pharmacological activity and contains key active components ROSAVIN, ROSARIN,
ROSIN and SALIDROSIDE. While so-called Tibetan Rhodiola and Rhodiola rosea
of Chinese origin very often do not have enough potency and contains only
SALIDROSIDE. Compare content of key substances in dry roots: Chinese Rhodiola
often has no activity at all, but there are other species of Rhodiola
that are predomin-ating in China, such as Tibetan Rhodiola, Rhodiola quadrifida,
Rhodiola kirilowii, Rhodiola heterodonta and many others.
the best quality of Rhodiola rosea click here
rosea of Russian origin is now slowly
but surely becoming more widely accepted in Europe and the USA as a powerful
anti-aging, anti-stress formula. In today's culture of hustling and bustling,
with chaos coming from every direction, I do not think we can afford to
ignore this natural medicine any longer. It is in our interest to take
advantage of these powerful herbs if we want to survive the demands modern
life imposes on us. One does not have to be a professor or scientist to
research herbs and educate oneself on how they work. The motivation depends
on how much one desires to improve one's quality of life. Since life is
so short, our advice is: don't wait until you have a day off, maybe next
week. Why not take Russian Rhodiola as soon as possible, so your week
will be more productive?
Taking Rhodiola rosea, you will be better
able to cope with stress!
Rhodiola Rosea can be cultivated in two ways - from seed, or by vegetative
Cultivation from seed
The seeds of Rhodiola Rosea are very small (about 1.5 - 2mm long by 0.3
- 0.6mm). Growing from seed can be difficult, because the dried seeds
have a low germination capacity (only about 2 - 25% of them will germinate).
However, this can be improved if, prior to planting, the seeds are stored
in moist sand in cool conditions for about a month. (The dry seeds are
soaked in water overnight, then mixed into moist sand and kept in a suitable
container). After storage for one month at a temperature between 0 - 2°C,
the germination capacity will typically increase to around 75%. And by
using natural stratification, sowing outdoors in the autumn (during September-October),
it is possible to achieve 95-100% germination. After planting (see below),
the seeds sprout after 4 - 5 days and the first leaves appear in 25 -
Vegetative propagation (root division)
Rhodiola Rosea can also be propagated
by root division. For this, you need to cut the underground rhizome-like
roots into sections 1.5 to 15cm long, maintaining at least one bud and
some hair-roots on each piece. Root division can be performed throughout
the autumn months before frost, or in early spring. The cut pieces should
be transplanted into soil, and after 3 weeks the plantlets should start
The best type of soil is sandy or brown forest soil, rich in humus. The
soil needs to be weeded regularly. The bed should be in an open, sunny
place, and prior to planting should be treated with processed manure (3
- 5kg/sq m) or fertiliser (4 - 6kg/sq m). Adding grit, gravel, or vermiculite
to the soil increases soil porosity and encourages growth; however, peat-based
fertiliser should not be used. During the first month, the plants need
to be carefully watered and weeded. Prick out the seedlings into individual
pots when they are large enough to handle, and grow them on in the greenhouse
for the first winter. Plant out in early summer of the following year.
usually reach their maximum height in the third year after planting, but
a minimum of 5 years must pass before the medicinal roots can be harvested.
Harvesting should take place in autumn, since at this time the plant stops
its vegetative growth and the dry-matter content of the root is higher.
Harvesting is a simple process of digging out the roots by hand. In the
case of large-scale cultivation, mechanical assistance from a cultivator
machine etc. would be required.
Processing the harvested roots
The gathered roots should be sliced
into thin strips about 10cm long, and dried in a well-ventilated drier
at 40 - 50°C for 4 - 7 days. Under these conditions the original white
color of the roots turns light brown. The roots should not be dried in
the sun, since strong light destroys the active medicinal component! The
dried root is best stored in paper packets in a cool dry place, and will
keep for up to 3 years.
John Hyatt, CA
The ideas, procedures and suggestions contained in this article are intended
for informational purposes only. Always consult with your doctor. All
materials regarding your health require medical supervision. These statements
have not been evaluated by the FDA, and are not intended to diagnose,
treat, or cure any disease.
1 Maslova L.V. et al. (1994) "The cardioprotective and antiadrenergic
activity of an extract of Rhodiola rosea in stress" Eksp Klin Farmakol
2. Zakir Ramazanov, Z. et al. (1999) "New secrets of effective natural
stress and weight management, using Rhodiola rosea and Rhodendron caucasicum"
ATN/Safe Goods Publishing, CT.
3. Germano, C. et al. (1999) "Arctic root. The powerful new ginseng alternative"
4. Petkov, V.D. et. al. (1986) "Effects of alcohol aqueous extract from
Rhodiola rosea L. roots on learning and memory" Acta Physiol Pharmacol
Bulg 12(1): 3-16
5. Duhan, O.M. et al. (1999) "The antimutagenic activity of biomass extracts
from the cultured cells of medicinal plants in the Ames test" Tsitol Genet
Nov-Dec 33(6): 19-25
6. Udintsev SN; et.al. (1991) "The role of humoral factors of regenerating
liver in the development of experimental tumours and the effect of Rhodiola
rosea extract on this process" Neoplasma;38(3): 323-31
7. Bocharova OA et.al. (1995) "The effect of a Rhodiola rosea extract
on the incidence of recurrences of a superficial bladder cancer (experimental
clinical research)" Urol Nefrol (Mosk) Mar-Apr (2): 46-7
8. Salikhova RA et.al. (1997) "Effect of Rhodiola rosea on the yield of
mutation alteration and DNA repair in bone marrow cells". Patol Fiziol
Exsp Ter Oct-Dec (4): 22-4
9. Linh PT et.al. (2000) "Quantitative determination of salidroside and
thyrosol from the underground part of Rhodiola rosea by high performance
liquid chromatography" Arch Pharm Res Aug 23(4): 349-52
10. Brown RP, Gerbarg PL, Ramazanov Z. Rhodiola rosea: a phytomedicinal
overview. Herbalgram 2002;56:4052.
List of Scientific Articles (Abstracts)
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