In this article I am going to discuss Rhodiola Rosea and its benefits for the brain.
Rhodiola is a herb that some of you may have heard of before. It is sold as a nutritional supplement touted for its cognitive and anti-depressant benefits.
This is a supplement I’ve been taking, mainly to increase energy, and I find that it works pretty well. I’m not going to go into details about my own experiences but there is quite a bit of research behind this herb.
There are some studies showing it can help with endurance exercise in humans, as well as increase lifespan in worms and flies, but I’m not going to get into those here but focus on benefits for the brain.
What is Rhodiola Rosea?
Rhodiola Rosea (the golden root) grows in cold countries around the world.
The suggested mechanism (not proven) of Rhodiola Rosea is acting as a Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitor (1). This basically means that it is believed to reduce breakdown of neurotransmitters such as Dopamine and Serotonin, which may help alleviate depression and anxiety.
Rhodiola Rosea and the brain
There is a decent amount of evidence that Rhodiola can reduce fatigue and prevent the harmful effects of stress, and that it may help alleviate mild to moderate depression.
In one study, 56 doctors were tested during night shift with either placebo or an extract of Rhodiola Rosea. Doctors taking the herb had better mental performance and reduced fatigue under conditions of stress (3).
60 individuals suffering from stress-related fatigue were given an extract of Rhodiola Rosea, or a placebo. Those taking Rhodiola had less Cortisol (a “stress hormone”) at the time of waking up, as well as decreased symptoms of fatigue and improved concentration (4).
In patients with mild to moderate depression, treatment with Rhodiola Rosea decreased depressive symptoms and reduced insomnia, emotional instability and somatization. There were no effects on self-esteem (5).
No serious side effects were reported in any of these studies.
This herb, Rhodiola Rosea, has received a lot of incredible claims by marketers.
I usually don’t believe what marketers say about the products they are selling and personally I don’t have much faith in most types of nutritional supplements.
However, I am the kind of guy who is willing to explore anything with an open mind. A quick search of the literature clearly shows that Rhodiola has quite a bit of evidence behind it.
This herb is useful to me, since I tend to get overly tired sometimes. That can be quite annoying as I’m not the kind of guy who likes to be hanging around all day or sleeping more than I need to.
If you live a stressful life and have been suffering from fatigue, then it is a good chance that Rhodiola Rosea may help. However, many people who take it experience no effects.