Quality evidence has been mounting for Rhodiola Rosea’s efficacy as an adaptogen and an all natural nootropic. It is being used by an increasing number of people to help them cope with heavy work loads, alleviate headaches, improve their concentration, reduce anxiety, enhance their memory, regulate their appetites (too little or too much), bolster their immune systems, and reduce irritability. As an herb that helps the body better cope with stress, none of these benefits should be surprising. Better yet, a sizeable chunk of the claims about Rhodiola have been subject to double-blind studies - meaning there is solid evidence to support many of the claims about it.
Rhodiola is an herbal nootropic, a natural brain booster. Subjects in the verum group made far fewer errors in proofreading tasks than the control or those given Siberian ginseng (Rathee, 2008).
Nightshift physicians were given 170 mg of Rhodiola extract. Compared to the placebo they experienced significantly reduced mental fatigue and saw a 20% increase on their performance on tests meant to gauge their level of mental fatigue and cognitive functions, including short-term memory, concentration, and audio-visual perception (Darbinyian, 2000). Rhodiola has repeatedly increased performance in endurance athletes (Noreen, 2013). It’s been postulated that Rhodiola does this by reducing the perceived amount of effort it takes to complete a task, which makes mental and physical work seem easier (Duncan, 2014).
However, this perceived effortlessness comes from real underlying changes. Azizov found that Rhodiola extract stopped adrenocorticotropic hormone and cortisol from rising. In the group’s experiment, extract improved swimming time in rats by 159% (Azizov, 1996). In students, many of which were still learning a second language, it markedly bolstered psychomotor function while reducing mental fatigue. Those given Rhodiola performed significantly better than the control (3.42 versus 3.20). Olson concluded that Rhodiola fights off fatigue which, in turn, boosts performance and feelings of weakness. Rhodiola optimizes performance by reducing an assortment issues associated with stress by preventing stress hormones from spiking in the first place.
Does it wear off? Or rather, how quickly does tolerance build? It doesn’t appear so. And, not quickly - if at all. A research group did not observe any appreciable loss of potency after four weeks of use (Debock, 2003). In the same study Rhodiola was found to have a positive effect on muscular endurance. It has also been repeatedly found to help regulate sleep patterns (Darbinyan, 2000). Since it improves the permeability of the blood brain barrier, which lets serotonin and dopamine precursors more readily enter, it has been investigated as means of alleviating some mental health disorders. Panossian asserted that the compounds in the extract have a “broad spectrum” of mechanisms that can and should be investigated as treatments for depression, but warns that the the standardization of the extract, the amount of each compound, is critical.
In yeast, worms, and flies regular administration lengthens lifespan by 25% (Schriner, 2015). While this may not translate proportionally to humans, it is a good sign because of the way this is done. It is accomplished through a pathway that is evolutionarily conserved. In other words, it’s shared by most every animal, including humans. Caloric restriction is a well-researched method of lengthening lifespan and healthspan in a variety of animals, including primates (Colman, 2009). A caloric restriction mimetic, like resveratrol or pterostilbene or Rhodiola, grants these benefits without the pangs of starvation.
Negative side-effects are uncommon (Hung et. al, 2011). The research on rhodiola thus far is promising, to say the least. As mentioned earlier, getting it from a trusted supplier with quality controls in place is crucial. Rhodiola and ginseng are frequently adulterated (Rusham, 2018), which is why we have to be especially careful about where we buy them. This is why Sapiens Biolabs supercharges its blend with 200mg of high quality Rhodiola. It's just one of the reasons why Sapiens Focus is the most science-backed all-natural nootropic on the market.
Azizov AP, Seifulla RD. The effect of elton, leveton, fitoton and adapton on the work capacity of experimental animals [in Russian]. Eksp Klin Farmakol . 1998;61(3):61-63.
Colman, Ricki J., et al. "Caloric restriction delays disease onset and mortality in rhesus monkeys." Science 325.5937 (2009): 201-204.
Darbinyan, V., et al. "Clinical trial of Rhodiola rosea L. extract SHR-5 in the treatment of mild to moderate depression." Nordic journal of psychiatry 61.5 (2007): 343-348.
Darbinyan, V., et al. "Rhodiola rosea in stress induced fatigue—a double blind cross-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 7.5 (2000): 365-371.
De Bock, Katrien, et al. "Acute Rhodiola rosea intake can improve endurance exercise performance." International journal of sport nutrition and exercise metabolism 14.3 (2004): 298-307.
Duncan, Michael J., and Neil D. Clarke. "The effect of acute Rhodiola rosea ingestion on exercise heart rate, substrate utilisation, mood state, and perceptions of exertion, arousal, and pleasure/displeasure in active men." Journal of Sports Medicine 2014 (2014).
Hung, Shao Kang, Rachel Perry, and Edzard Ernst. "The effectiveness and efficacy of Rhodiola rosea L.: a systematic review of randomized clinical trials." Phytomedicine 18.4 (2011): 235-244.
Lishmanov IuB, Trifonova ZhV, Tsibin AN, Maslova LV, Dement'eva LA. Plasma beta-endorphin and stress hormones in stress and adaptation [in Russian]. Biull Eksp Biol Med . 1987;103(4):422-424.
Noreen, Eric E., et al. "The effects of an acute dose of Rhodiola rosea on endurance exercise performance." The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research 27.3 (2013): 839-847.
Panossian, Alexander, and Georg Wikman. "Effects of adaptogens on the central nervous system and the molecular mechanisms associated with their stress—protective activity." Pharmaceuticals 3.1 (2010): 188-224.
Rathee, Permender, et al. "Natural memory boosters." Pharmacognosy Reviews 2.4 (2008): 249.
Ruhsam, Markus, and Peter M. Hollingsworth. "Authentication of eleutherococcus and rhodiola herbal supplement products in the United Kingdom." Journal of pharmaceutical and biomedical analysis 149 (2018): 403-409.
Schriner, Samuel E., et al. "Extension of Drosophila lifespan by Rhodiola rosea through a mechanism independent from dietary restriction." PloS one 8.5 (2013): e63886.