|Rhodiola rosea is a member of the family Crassulaceae, a family of plants native to the arctic regions of Eastern Siberia. Rhodiola rosea is also known as golden root, rose root, Arctic root and Russian Rhodiola.
The root of rhodiola has been used in the traditional medicine of many countries. Rhodiola rosea is classified as an adaptogen. An adaptogen is a substance that promotes a normalizing action on the body, increasing resistance to adverse conditions like the ones mentioned above. Rhodiola rosea contains phenylpropanoids such as rosavin, rosarin and rosin. Other constituents include salidroside, monoterpene rosiridin, flavonoids, tannins and an essential oil. Rhodiola also contains a range of antioxidant compounds, including p-tyrosol, organic acids (gallic acid, caffeic acid, and chlorogenic acid), and flavonoids (catechins and proanthocyanidins). The stimulating and adaptogenic properties of rhodiola rosea are attributed to p-tyrosol, salidroside, rhodioniside, rhodiolin, rosin, rosavin, rosarin, mad rosiridin. Rosavin is the constituent currently selected for standardization of extracts.
As an adaptogen, rhodiola rosea increases the body's resistance to infection and promotes healing. Rhodiola rosea's effects are attributed to its ability to optimize serotonin and dopamine levels and to its influence on opioid peptides such as beta-endorphins. Rhodiola rosea increases resistance to a variety of chemical, biological, and physical stressors. Rhodiola rosea influences levels and activity of biogenic monoamines such as serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine in the cerebral cortex, brain stem, and hypothalamus. Rhodiola rosea has a nonspecific ability to assist the body to withstand stress and maintain normalcy even when threatened with pathological conditions. Rhodiola both stimulates and protects the immune system by reinstating homeostasis (metabolic balance) in the body. It also increases natural killer cells (NK) in the stomach and spleen. Rhodiola promotes the release of mood-modulating neurotransmitters norepinephrine, dopamine and serotonin.
Rhodiola rosea is effective for improving mood and alleviating depression. It improves both physical and mental performance, reduces fatigue, and prevents high altitude sickness. Rhodiola has been shown to be effective for cardiac problems caused or aggravated by stress. It has also been shown to fight infections, and nervous system disorders, and even motion sickness. Other uses include treating fatigue, depression, anaemia, impotence, infections, cancer, nervous system disorders and headache; for longevity and to enhance fertility. Rhodiola has potent antioxidant properties. By limiting the adverse effects of free radical damage, it is able to combat all the diseases associated with aging.