Terry Willard, ClH, PhD
The other day a group of my students at Wild Rose College wanted to know more about the new Arctic herb they were hearing so much about. "Is rhodiola really as good as Siberian ginseng? they asked.
The other day a group of my students at Wild Rose College wanted to know more about the new Arctic herb they were hearing so much about. "Is rhodiola really as good as Siberian ginseng?" they asked. I assured them it is not only as good at helping the body cope with stress, it even excels in a few areas.
Rhodiola rosea, also known as rose root, golden root, rose wort, and Arctic root, is a plant native to northern Europe, Scandinavia, Lapland, Russia, northern Canada, and Alaska. Used as a popular tonic to give strength and stamina to individuals recovering from long-term illness, it may also be used to fight infections, increase physical endurance, and increase concentration during times of intense mental activity. We use the dry rootstock, which has the distinct smell of dried rose petals.
Rhodiola flower tea was used by many Inuit groups as a treatment for gastrointestinal ailments, fevers, tuberculosis, and as a general analgesic. Today rhodiola is often used to shorten recovery time after prolonged workouts. It increases levels of enzymes, RNA, and proteins important to muscle recovery after exhaustive exercise.
Rhodiola has also been shown to increase attention span, memory, and physical strength, as well as our ability to handle stress. Rhodiola has the ability to maintain increased cardiac output while protecting the heart. The anti-tumour activity of rhodiola has also been a focus of much research in the last several years.
Rhodiola rosea has been shown to be specific in superficial bladder cancer, improving urothelial tissue integration. Application to other cancers has been studied in a wide variety of tumour systems. There has been some exciting information on rhodiola's ability to help liver cancer patients by inhibiting the growth of liver tumours by 37, 39, and 59 percent, respectively, and that of metastases by 42, 50, and 75 percent. The herb seems to reduce overall body toxicity, making it effective against cancer and other health issues.
Learning and memory studies show favourable results. The effect of an alcohol-aqueous extract (1:1) from Rhodiola rosea L. roots essentially improved learning and retention after 24 hours. Significant improvement of long-term memory was also established in memory tests after a 10-day treatment with the same dose of the extract.
Cardio-protective and stress reduction effects have been shown in many studies. Rhodiola was found to prevent stress-induced cardiac damage. Moreover, the adaptogen prevented lower adrenal output during stress. The findings suggest that the anti-stressor and cardioprotective effects of rhodiola are associated with limited effect by adrenaline on the heart.
The normal dosage is 250 mg one to three times daily or 500 mg before exercise or any other situation that demands extra mental clarity and energy.
Russians Love It
This relative newcomer to the North American botanical market has been used for four decades in Scandinavian and Russian medicines and is considered completely safe. Let's welcome the northerner rhodiola and get to know this strong new adaptogen herb.
The Bottom Line
Rhodiola has been studied thoroughly for more than 35 years and appears to be one of the world's great adaptogens, helping people resist and recover from physical, biological, environmental, and emotional stresses.