Rhodiola rosea (Roseroot) is a plant in the family Crassulaceae that grows in cold regions of the world. A native of Russia and Asian territories, rhodiola is an alpine plant growing at 3,300-5,400 meters above sea level. Rhodiola rosea is very effective for improving mood and alleviating depression.
In Russia, Rhodiola rosea, also known as 'golden root', has been used for centuries to cope with the cold Siberian climate and stressful life. It has also been used for centuries in Scandinavia, both by the Vikings and the Sámi.
Rhodiola is sometimes inappropriately referred to as "Arctic Root®", which is a trademark product name held by the Swedish Herbal Institute for an extract SHR-5 which contains unique Rhodiola rosea extracts tested in human clinical trials.
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. The stimulant substances involved are referred to as adaptogens.
The effect of stress on mental function is well documented. The release of the hormone corticotropin releasing factor (CRF) has been postulated as the major regulator of stress. During times of stress CRF leads a release of the catecholamines epinephrine and norepinephrine that alter blood glucose levels and serotonin synthesis. Both have been associated with aberrations in mood and personality. Specific herbs known as adaptogens may impart protective affects to the body; normalizing blood and serotonin levels thus correcting psychological abnormalities. Several important compounds have been isolated from rhodiola rosea and identified that have nutritional pharmacological value and include: beta-sitosterol, cinnamic alcohol, rosavidin, gallic acid, salidroside, and other phenolic compounds. Essentially, rhodiola has been extensively studied and used in a variety of clinical settings addressing cardio-protection, enhanced endurance, and anti-cancer activity.
Additional effects of rhodiola are as follows:
Russian research shows that it improves both physical and mental performance, reduces fatigue, and prevents high altitude sickness. In one study, the Rhodiola rosea group decreased proofreading errors by 88% while the control group increased proofreading errors by 84%.