Rhodiola rosea, ��Golden root��, is a popular plant in traditional medical systems in Eastern Europe and Asia with a reputation for stimulating the nervous system, decreasing depression, enhancing work performance, eliminating fatigue, and preventing high altitude sickness.
Rhodiola rosea has been categorized as an adaptogen for physical and mental stamina by Russian researchers due to its observed ability to increase resistance to a variety of chemical, biological, and physical stressors. Its claimed benefits include antidepressant, anticancer, cardioprotective, and central nervous system enhancement. Research also indicates great utility in asthenic conditions (decline in work performance, sleep difficulties, poor appetite, irritability, hypertension, headaches, and fatigue) developing subsequent to intense physical or intellectual strain. The adaptogenic, cardiopulmonary protective, and central nervous system activities of Rhodiola rosea have been attributed primarily to its ability to influence levels and activity of monoamines and opioid peptides such as beta-endorphins. (Altern Med Rev 2001;6(3):293-302)
Twenty-eight compounds have been isolated from the roots and above-ground parts of Rhodiola rosea, including 12 novel compounds. The roots contain a range of biologically active substances including organic acids, flavonoids, tannins, and phenolic glycosides. The stimulating and adaptogenic properties of Rhodiola rosea were originally attributed to two compounds isolated from its roots, identified as p-tyrosol and the phenolic glycoside rhodioloside known glycoside salidroside. Additional glycoside compounds isolated from the root include rhodioniside, Rosavin, rosarin, and rosiridin. These glycoside compounds are also thought to be critical for the plant’s observed adaptogenic properties. Rosavin is the constituent currently selected for standardization of extracts.10
In the two double-blind clinical trials, the dose of a standardized Rhodiola rosea extract ranged from 100-170 mg per day. The content of rosavin consumed in these daily doses is approximately 3.6-6.14 mg. The therapeutic dose of available Rhodiola rosea preparations will vary depending on degree of standardization; This would suggest a dose of approximately 360-600 mg Rhodiola rosea daily of an extract standardized for one-percent rosavin, 180-300 mg of an extract standardized for two-percent rosavin, or the dose of between 100-170 mg for an extract standardized for 3.6-percent rosavin. Evidence on the safety and appropriateness of Rhodiola rosea supplementation during pregnancy and lactation is currently unavailable.