Roseroot (Rhodiola Rosea)

Roseroot is NOT the root of a rose bush! Rhodiola rosea is an interesting herb and one that seems to be getting more publicity these days. In case you've seen the name and wondered, here's a little background.

Rhodiola is an adaptogenic herb, meaning that it helps the body adapt to stressful situations and reach a balanced state (homeostasis). Adaptogens are considered resilience herbs. They are metabolic regulators and counter the negative effects of stress. That's why Rhodiola is often used for fatigue, anxiety and depression. Additionally, rhodiola has been shown in studies to increase mental and physical performance and stamina. Apparently, it was popular for this use by the Vikings. 

Rhodiola has been studied and used extensively in Russia, Scandinavia and Greece, appearing in Dioscorides' De Materia Medica in the first century. It has been shown to normalize certain brain neurotransmitters and optimize serotonin and dopamine levels.

Herbalists sometimes recommend it for lowering high cholesterol, as well as to strengthen the immune and nervous systems. But remember, always consult your doctor before taking any herbal supplement, especially if you're on any prescription or even OTC medications.

As the holidays approach, stress and anxiety levels may begin to increase. Many people feel more depressed during this time. If you feel fatigued and in need of extra caffeine to get through it all, you might want to give rhodiola a try instead. Of course, nothing replaces a good diet, exercise and plenty of sleep, so always start there. 

Patrick Holford is the author of The New Optimum Nutrition Bible, one of my go-to books for health issues. He has an entire chapter on "Increasing Your Energy and Resistance to Stress," in which he gives numerous tips for dealing with stress. If you are often stressed out, fatigued and/or mildly depressed, you might want to get a copy of the book and try some of his recommendations, which include rhodiola.


At a recent online lecture hosted by Gaia Herbs, integrative practitioners discussed the role of botanicals in mental health, and rhodiola was one of the primary herbs on the agenda. Studies indicate that the standardized extract is the most effective form and many people feel better very quickly. However, rhodiola can stimulate those with bipolar disorder and is therefore contraindicated in that instance. Also, people on medication for irregular heartbeat might be over stimulated by it and negatively affected. Always ask your doctor before taking any herb or supplement.

© Bobbi Mullins 2011, All rights reserved. FOOD FITNESS FAITH™