Rhodiola rosea, sometimes called arctic root or golden root, is a flowering plant that grows at high altitudes in the mountainous Arctic regions of Russia, Eastern Europe and North America. This herb has a long history of traditional use for health, energy and stamina. Recent research supports these ancient uses and explains how this humble herb can provide a host of benefits.
Rhodiola’s Traditional Reputation for Health and Vitality
Rhodiola is a short, hardy perennial that flourishes in the harsh climate of the Arctic north. The stems, leaves and roots of the plant are edible, but it is the root that is most often used for medicinal or functional purposes. In Chinese traditional medicine, Rhodiola has been used for centuries as a tonic to support respiratory and heart health, mental health, and to relieve fatigue and stress, especially during the long, harsh winter months in Tibet and northern China. In Siberia, the root was traditionally used to promote fertility. Scandinavian Vikings also knew of the wonderful properties of “golden root” and used it for vitality and strength, while Sherpas considered it a cure for high altitude sickness and used it for endurance when mountain climbing. In the 1970s, the Soviet government conducted research on this traditional remedy and found that it increased energy and alertness and led to quicker recovery time for athletes and members of the military.
Health Benefits of Rhodiola Today
Today there is a resurgence of interest in Rhodiola. It’s often referred to by herbalists as an adaptogenic, meaning it has the ability to help your body adapt and rebound from stress. This fits well with its traditional use as a tonic against cold, high-altitude activity and other strenuous situations, and recent research suggests that Rhodiola does indeed have the ability to help counteract fatigue and stress. Some research has focused on Rhodiola’s effects on mental health, such as cognitive processing speed, concentration, mood and memory. Another recent study showed Rhodiola to be nearly as effective as sertraline in treating depression, but with much fewer negative side effects, while yet another study showed Rhodiola reduced symptoms of anxiety. An additional area of focus has been Rhodiola’s anti-aging properties. A study suggested that the herb is believed by some to have the potential to support longevity.
How to Add Rhodiola to Your Diet
Rhodiola root can be consumed as a powder, brewed into a tea, or made into a liquid extract. It’s also widely available in capsule form. One convenient way to enjoy the benefits of Rhodiola is with Om’s Brain Fuel+ drink mix blend. It supports mental alertness and focus by combining superfood mushrooms, including lion’s mane and reishi (often referred to as a superior adaptogen), with Rhodiola (a botanical adaptogen). By mixing a packet of Brain Fuel+ into your favorite milk (plant-based or dairy), or adding it to hot water as part of your morning routine, you can easily add this health-giving herb to your daily wellness routine and enjoy the time-tested benefits of Rhodiola, along with the natural health benefits of two of the most popular functional mushrooms. In addition to mushroom powders, Om offers drink mixes that combine the powerful properties of wholefood certified organic mushrooms with other herbs and botanicals, such as Rhodiola.
Amy Smith is a writer, educator, and health-conscious mother of five, living on a small homestead in rural Pennsylvania. She produces informative, well-researched online content for a variety of clients in the fields of natural living, health and wellness, family and parenting.