The science is in on nootropics, and the future for brain health and cognitive enhancement looks very promising. The versatility of herbal nootropics is what makes them distinctly unique. Brain supplements don’t discriminate based on age or goals, they just work. If you’re trying to increase memory power to ace an exam, nootropics can help. If you’re simply trying to preserve mental acuity as you age, there’s a natural supplement for that, too. Rhodiola Rosea is one such herb with an array of scientifically backed physical and mental health benefits.
In today’s review, we will discuss the benefits of Rhodiola Rosea extract. Rhodiola is a multipurpose nootropic agent that can aid in weight loss, boost cognitive function, abolish fatigue, help reduce symptoms of ADHD, and even eliminate anxiety and depression. With such a wide variety of medicinal uses, this is one herbal supplement you should add to your daily regimen.
What is Rhodiola Rosea Extract?
You’ve probably heard the name before, but what is Rhodiola Rosea? Rhodiola Rosea is a Scandinavian herb used in traditional Chinese Medicine to promote both cognitive and physical vitality. Several studies suggest this natural nootropic can reduce brain fog, eliminate mental and physical fatigue, and prolong time to exhaustion during stressful situations. We’ll elaborate on these health benefits later in the review.
Rhodiola Rosea is an adaptogen compound in the Rhodiola genera (Crassulaceae family) of herbs. Adaptogens are compounds highly capable of inhibiting the physical and chemical effects of stress. In other words, Rhodiola (like related adaptogen Panax Ginseng) has potent anxiolytic properties known to reduce stress and anxiety while stabilizing mood.
The Rhodiola Rosea plant is a perennial flower that grows naturally in colder regions of the world. These areas include much of the Arctic, mountain ranges throughout Europe and Asia, as well as parts of eastern North America. More specifically, Rhodiola is common in Siberia, Scandinavia, and Britain—hence the wide variety of designations for the same plant.
You may know this brain health supplement by several names such as:
- Rhodiola Rhizome
- Arctic Root
- Rose Root
- Golden Root
- King’s Crown
- Lignum Rhodium
- Orpin Rose
- Aaron’s Rod
These are all terms for the same herb. Historically, many believe the Vikings used Rhodiola Rosea extract to preserve their bodies and enhance physical strength. Sherpa people even used the herb to boost stamina for high altitude climbs, including Mt. Everest. Some doctors even suggest the herb as a natural remedy for coping with the symptoms of Fibromyalgia. As you can see, this plant serves a multitude of therapeutic purposes.
Salidroside vs. Rosavin
The unique medicinal properties of Rhodiola Rosea derive from two primary chemical compounds extracted from its ground up roots: salidroside and rosavin. Both can influence the nervous system to achieve Rhodiola’s renowned cognitive and physical health benefits. However, research suggests most of the benefits come from the salidroside component of the herb. Rosavin appears to be mostly ineffective in isolation. When combined with the other elements of Rhodiola Rosea, its benefits come to light. During supplement selection, make sure to choose a 3% salidroside and 1% rosavin extract for best results.
5 Health Benefits of Rhodiola Rosea Extract
Rhodiola Rosea extract benefits the mind and body in several ways. Regardless of your age and your goals, you’ll find a use for this natural herb. There’s a reason Rhodiola finds its way into many of the best smart pills and nootropics on the market. Not only does it boost cognitive function, but it can enhance mood and well-being, and aid in weight loss. Let’s explore all the benefits of Rhodiola Rosea in more detail.
1. Improves Weight Loss and Fat Burning
Many users supplement Rhodiola Rosea for weight loss and for boosting metabolism. To understand how it functions, we first need to discuss the inner workings of metabolic activity. Here are three critical points to remember.
- Metabolism is the biochemical process that involves anabolism (building and storing energy) and catabolism (breaking down and releasing energy).
- ATP (Adenosine triphosphate) is the cell’s energy currency, comparable to the concept of storing money in a bank. When the body needs energy, it releases ATP. If the body is in a state of energy conservation, ATP remains stored within the Mitochondria.
- AMPK (Adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase) regulates and maintains cellular energy homeostasis within the body. It can detect low ATP levels and adjust signaling pathways according to current energy requirements.
Rhodiola Rosea benefits weight loss and fat burning through its mechanism of action that involves the stimulation of AMPK enzymes. When these enzymes are more present in the body, ATP releases from the Mitochondria—the energy-producing power plants of our cells.
Activated AMPK stimulates ATP-generating catabolic pathways while simultaneously suppressing ATP-consuming pathways. This effect replenishes the body’s supply of ATP (our energy currency) and enables enhanced insulin-induced uptake of glucose and fatty acids into our muscle cells. The entire process improves fat burning and metabolism and allows our cells to function more efficiently.
Burns Stored Belly Fat
The rosavin compound within Rhodiola Rosea has been proven to stimulate the hormone-sensitive lipase enzyme. This stimulation results in the breakdown of stored fat in adipose tissue (belly fat). When combined with a regular exercise routine and a healthy diet, human clinical studies found that Rhodiola's impact on weight loss is even more pronounced.
Helps Appetite Control
Animal testing has linked Rhodiola Rosea extract to possible reductions in stress-induced binge eating. Nootropic supplementation is not a conventional method to control hunger or cravings. With that said, Rhodiola seems to be effective at regulating the interaction between appetite and stress. Although human evidence is lacking regarding appetite control, this potential weight loss benefit is a bonus to its primary effects.
2. Boosts Energy and Athletic Performance
Rhodiola Rosea enhances energy levels by improving ATP synthesis, efficiently replenishing the body’s supply of cellular energy. As mentioned earlier, this health benefit assists with weight loss but also reduces both physical and mental fatigue to improve athletic performance further. Additionally, studies confirm that Rhodiola is slightly stimulatory, like caffeine but without risk of crash or jitters.
Increases Red Blood Cell Count
This herbal nootropic has also shown an ability to increase red blood cell (RBC) counts by stimulating EPO (erythropoietin). EPO is a hormone produced by our kidneys that promotes the formation of RBC’s within the bone marrow. Red blood cells are the primary transporters of oxygen-rich blood throughout the body. By improving oxygen and nutrient flow, our muscles can function at peak performance.
Enhances VO2 Max
Rhodiola Rosea extract benefits VO2 max, which is the measurement of the maximum amount of oxygen an individual can utilize during high-intensity training. An increase in VO2 max means the athlete’s capacity for sustained workouts increases. Therefore, supplementation of Rhodiola boosts physical endurance and stamina, enhances training capacity, eliminates fatigue, and promotes optimal muscle function.
Contains Anti-Inflammatory Properties
Rhodiola Rosea possesses rare anti-inflammatory benefits. Following intense training or workout sessions, reducing bodily inflammation is crucial for rapid muscle recovery. If you’ve ever seen professional athletes ice their muscles after workouts or games, this is why. The ice reduces inflammation which promotes quick healing of muscle tissue. Reductions in overall bodily inflammation also provide an excellent anti-aging benefit, keeping you feeling younger and more vibrant.
3. Reduces Stress, Anxiety, and Depression
Studies show that Rhodiola Rosea extract can very reliably reduce stress, anxiety, and depression while improving overall brain health. The anxiolytic benefits of Rhodiola Rosea derive from interactions with neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin. These are chemicals produced by nerve cells that regulate happiness, anxiety levels, mood, and feelings of pleasure and reward.
Regulates Dopamine and Serotonin
Low levels of serotonin and dopamine may lead to depression. It’s crucial for these neurotransmitters to maintain balance for mood stabilization and sense of well-being. Rhodiola’s adaptogenic properties can normalize levels of these vital chemicals in the presence of deficiencies or irregularities. This beneficial cognitive effect is why many nootropic users choose Rhodiola Rosea to combat mood disorders in place of traditionally prescribed anti-depressant medications.
A one-month clinical trial containing 150 individuals suffering from chronic stress and depression demonstrated clear improvements in depressive symptoms. In fact, two-thirds of the studied group experienced a complete remission of their depression. This result creates a very promising outlook for herbal treatments and remedies for anxiety and related mood disorders. Several other studies demonstrated similar mental health benefits, proving Rhodiola Rosea is an excellent natural treatment for stress and anxiety.
4. Improves Focus, Concentration, and Cognitive Function
Herbal nootropics can help boost brain power and mental cognition. Rhodiola Rosea benefits the brain by providing a subtle psychostimulatory effect. Research suggests the enhanced cognitive function is particularly noteworthy when under duress or when dealing with chronic stress and fatigue. This nootropic improves holistic thinking, providing improved creativity and efficient mental processing.
As an herbal adaptogen, Rhodiola Rosea helps the brain’s neurotransmitters achieve equilibrium by balancing serotonin and dopamine. This effect improves mood, reduces anxiety, enhances mental clarity, and provides a feeling of clear focus and concentration. Furthermore, users experience noticeable improvements in memory retention, visual reaction speeds, and reduced cognitive fatigue.
Improves Processing Speed and Accuracy
Secondary to reductions in fatigue, Rhodiola Rosea can also improve mental processing speed and accuracy. A double-blind placebo-controlled study conducted on military cadets performing night duties supplemented the herb for five days. The results of the study showed a significant antifatigue effect, improved well-being, enhanced reaction speed, and a reduction in mental processing errors. The study sought to measure Rhodiola Rosea’s cognitive benefits on psychological work in a stressful environment.
Reduces Symptoms of ADHD
By improving sustained attention span in the user, Rhodiola Rosea has shown itself to be an effective natural alternative to Adderall. When treating ADHD (Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder), stabilizing serotonin and dopamine are crucial for success. As stated previously, Rhodiola Rosea reliably accomplishes this task.
This adaptogen compound also provides a stimulation effect like prescription ADHD medications, but without the adverse side effects. Although research demonstrating Rhodiola Rosea supplementation specifically for ADHD is lacking, its impact on focus and concentration have been well-studied. These cognitive health benefits suggest that Rhodiola can treat ADHD naturally.
The salidroside component of Rhodiola has shown an ability to act as an antioxidant, mitigating the adverse effects of oxidative stress. Rhodiola may also offer a preventative measure for Alzheimer’s disease since salidroside can block beta-amyloid plaque build-up. As a natural defense mechanism, Rhodiola is a great way to preserve the brain, protecting us from age-related cognitive decline. The mental health benefits of Rhodiola Rosea extract are especially significant for those who are genetically predisposed to such neurodegenerative diseases.
5. Lowers Cortisol Levels
Cortisol is a chemical released by the adrenal glands in response to fear and stress. It is a core part of our body’s fight-or-flight response and essential for survival. However, doctors and healthcare professionals know that elevated cortisol levels are public health enemy number one. Excessive cortisol can lead to a variety of health concerns including:
- Reductions in bone density
- Increased abdominal weight gain
- Greater risk of thyroid problems
- High blood pressure and cholesterol
- Increased risk of developing heart disease
- Cognitive and memory impairment
- Increased risk of depression and mental illness
- Quicker aging and reduced life expectancy
- Weakening of immune system function
A quick glance at that list and you may think cortisol is worse than smoking cigarettes. Stress is a “silent killer.” If you don’t keep cortisol levels under control, you subject yourself to a substantially reduced state of health and quality of life. Because of this fact, many people turn to natural adaptogenic herbs to enhance mental and physical well-being.
Studies prove Rhodiola Rosea can reduce levels of stress hormone cortisol in the body. The combined effect of lowering cortisol and enhancing serotonin synthesis helps Rhodiola achieve the desired benefits—relaxed mental focus.
Side Effects and Dosage Recommendations
The side effects of Rhodiola Rosea are mild and extremely rare. It is a safe and well-tolerated herbal nootropic. When using the proper dosage, most users experience the health benefits safely without adverse reactions. Always start with a smaller dosage and titrate upwards to avoid negative side effects. As a standalone supplement, we recommend a 250mg to 500mg dosage taken twice daily. Dosages as low as 50mg will yield desirable results in most users, especially when paired with other nootropics. You may increase dosing as you see fit to achieve the required cognitive enhancement or mood-boosting effects.
Final Thoughts on Rhodiola Rosea Extract Benefits
Nootropics are not limitless pills, but they can enhance mental cognition and support brain function. Rhodiola Rosea extract is a highly effective natural herb to help you stay mentally sharp and on top of your game during stressful situations.
Rhodiola Rosea benefits the body by enhancing weight loss and fat burning, reducing symptoms of ADHD, and eliminating the adverse effects of stress, anxiety, and depression. This herb even benefits athletic performance by boosting stamina and physical endurance and improving longevity. If you want a versatile herbal supplement to add to your repertoire, give Rhodiola a try. Let us know your thoughts about this healthy herbal supplement in the comments below.
Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.
~ Frank Lloyd Wright
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