Rhodiola: Uses, Benefits, and Potential Risks


Rhodiola is a plant whose root is used as medicine. The herb has an impressive range of health benefits, including aiding weight loss and improving mood. Rhodiola extracts may also regulate heartbeat, help protect cells against damage, and improve learning and memory.

The Health Benefits of Rhodiola

This natural herb is believed to treat a host of health conditions. Now, let’s take a closer look at some of the amazing health benefits of Rhodiola.


Boosts Physical Endurance

Rhodiola is effective for boosting physical endurance. In fact, according to a study, when ingested for a short period of time, the root can lower heart rate during exercise. Rhodiola supplements have also proven to help in reducing recovery time after an exercise bout. The root makes it easier to work out more frequently and for longer periods of time.

Alleviates Physical and Mental Fatigue

By increasing the red blood cell count, Rhodiola may help reduce physical and mental fatigue for athletes and even non-athletes. This is because an increased count transports more oxygen to the muscles and minimizes inflammation. With a common condition like mental fatigue, the root allows for more productivity. Rhodiola is effective for people who want to stay alert and focused.

Aids in Weight Loss

Rhodiola is believed to be helpful in reducing body fat and supporting weight loss. Consuming this root, while also engaging in moderate exercise, can help break down internal abdominal fat fast. This is because the root contains an active compound called rosavin, which helps to stimulate lipase, an enzyme that breaks down fat.


Improves Mood

The root may also reduce the effects of depression, including in the treatment of Major Depressive Disorder (MDD). Rhodiola is naturally benign, making it a good alternative for people who are not particularly keen on using traditional antidepressants. The herb increases serotonin and dopamine, the neurotransmitters responsible for regulating mood, focus, and memory.

May Inhibit the Growth of Cancer Cells

One of the powerful components of Rhodiola known as salidroside is believed to contain anti-cancer properties. In fact, some studies have suggested that it prevents the growth of breast, bladder, liver, and colon cancer cells. Owing to this, Rhodiola may be effective in the treatment of several types of cancer.

May Regulate Blood Sugar Levels

When the body loses its ability to produce or respond to the hormone called insulin, it increases blood sugar levels. Once this happens, the person affected is referred to as being diabetic. It is common to see people with diabetes use insulin injections or medications to increase their insulin sensitivity. These insulin medications help to control their blood sugar levels.

Thankfully, some studies on animals indicate that Rhodiola may be helpful in improving diabetes control. In fact, these studies suggest that to lower blood sugar, Rhodiola increases the number of glucose transporters in the blood.

However, if you are diabetic and considering taking Rhodiola supplements, it is advisable to consult with a qualified dietitian or doctor first.


How to Take Rhodiola

For best results, it is important to understand that adaptogens take time to work, so it better to incorporate them into your daily routine. Therefore, adaptogens like Rhodiola, which comes in several pills, powder, extract, and tincture forms, can take some time to show tangible results.

Regarding dosage or how much you should take, it is advisable to start with small amounts and work your way up. Typically, 1/8 tsp per day is recommended when starting out, which you can slowly increase to your desire. Alternatively, you can consult an herbal expert to provide specific dosing that suits your health needs. These experts help to make a blend with other potent herbs that would be effective in treating symptoms of the health conditions you may be experiencing.

It is important to keep in mind that herbal supplements, including Rhodiola, should come from a reliable source.

Side Effects and Precautions

Generally, Rhodiola is considered safe as there are no known complications or potential side effects with the herb. While there are reports of people feeling a somewhat jittery as a result of taking the supplement, its several benefits are believed to outweigh this side effect.

Just like most supplements, Rhodiola has not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This makes the studies on its potency and potential side effects very minimal. However, several clinical trials carried out on both humans and mice showed no adverse effects. The most talked-about side effect of the supplement is the belief that it may not be as effective as it is being touted.

It is important to also remember that one can become allergic to any herb or supplement, including Rhodiola.

The Bottom Line

Like you must already know, Rhodiola contains an impressive range of potential health benefits and very few potential risks. Although there is a need for more studies, early results show positive indications that Rhodiola agrees with the anecdotal evidence that has been gathered for centuries.

Rhodiola is popular for its ability to increase strength, energy, mental capacity, as well as endurance. The herb is also effective as an adaptogen and acts as a stress reliever, especially in relation to physical, environmental, chemical stress. In fact, Rhodiola extracts are helpful in improving memory and learning, protecting cells from damage, and even regulating the rate of heartbeat.

Interestingly, there are no major side effects with Rhodiola– jitteriness is the most common adverse effect ever recorded after taking the herb.  People who experience jitteriness or other unpleasant side effects after taking the herb should avoid taking it or reduce their dosage. In addition, note that the longer the use of any supplement, including Rhodiola, the higher its potential risk.

It is important to keep in mind that every herb or supplement has risks as its safety, dosages, purity, and quality are not often consistent and are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

It is advisable not to take Rhodiola in the stead of other conventional treatment options. Doing this might make you miss treatments that could offer better benefits. Remember, Rhodiola is safest when used under the supervision of a medical doctor.