50—These are a few of
my favourite things

Rhodiola rosea

We can make you better, stronger... slower?

Rhodiola has got to be one of my ‘most favouritist’ medicinal herbs. But I’ll admit, I am somewhat biased when it comes to this herb. I first experienced Rhodiola many years ago when I was studying to be a Medical Herbalist. I’m not one for public speaking, so I didn’t relish giving presentations in class. My body would respond to this ordeal like I was about to face an angry mob, rather than a bunch of natural therapies students! My knees would shake, my voice would quiver, and my heart would race. By all indications, my body was telling me to run!

However, because I really wanted to gain my degree in health science, I had to stay and reluctantly ‘box on’. It was awful — I hated every moment of it. I would waste the majority of my thinking capacity (90%) worrying about what my classmates were thinking, as well as focusing on not-wanting-to-be-there. I therefore only had 10% of my brain left to concentrate on what I was actually saying and doing.

I willed (and silently threatened) them not to ask me any questions during the presentation as this would throw me off even further. To make it worse, because I wasn’t concentrating on what I was doing, if I lost my place during the presentation, then I would snow-ball.  I couldn’t figure out where I was up to because some silly idiot in my head kept telling me, ‘Now would be a good time to run, Lisa!’,’Now would be a really good time to run!’

Note: Under the circumstances, and in the state that I was in, I couldn’t ‘fight or flight’. Nothing was left for me bar ‘fright’! Please see my previous blog-post on stress hormones.

You clearly won't understand the gravity of the situation

When you take Rhodiola you’ll find that situations that would normally ‘throw you’, now seem manageable. When I took Rhodiola in the lead up to my presentation I didn’t really notice anything different — it didn’t sedate me. But when used for ‘my’ stress situation, it made me perceive the whole situation more appropriately — that it wasn’t life threatening at all!

Note: You only really note this herb’s ‘adaptogenic’ affect on you when you’re placed in a stressful situation. You suddenly think, ‘For some very strange reason (!), I am incredibly cool about all of this’…

I got up in front of the class that day and I ‘owned it’. I fielded questions from my class mates, I made jokes, and I spontaneously used props to get my point across. I ultimately did what I was supposed to do — educate my peers about the topic matter. And, I actually enjoyed myself. I felt I represented myself well — instead of acting on behalf of some other blundering idiot! It was a relief to feel resourceful in this situation, rather than out-of-control. I felt like the tables had turned. Now I was using 90% of my  brain to focus on my task, and only 10% on scouting for the nearest exit…

Note:  Rhodiola does more than just make you act more appropriately in stressful situations — as you’ll see below. For example, it improves your mental capacity, accuracy, concentration, and memory!

Practitioner grade Rhodiola rosea:

This herb is an adaptogen (it increases your body’s resilience to any stressor), a tonic (improves the function of the body), an anti-tumor, a hepatoprotective (protects the liver), and a hepatotrophorestorative (restores the liver).

Among other duties, Rhodiola regulates both the HPA Axis, and Heat Shock Proteins (HSP).

Note: Rhodiola rosea is also known as Rhodiola, Arctic Root, Golden Root,  Rose root, Russian Rhodiola, or Sedum roseum.

Rhodiola contains the following active constituents:
Phenylpropanoids (rosavin, rosarin, and rosin), Salidroside, Monoterpene — rosiridin, Flavonoids, Tannins, Essential oil (low amounts of)

Note: Both rosins and salidroside must be present in a good quality extract of Rhodiola rosea.

Check out this video from MediHerb to see why Practitioner grade products are superior.

A big SHOUT OUT to Mediherb!

Thank you for all the hard work you do on our behalf — unearthing the amazing healing properties of medicinal herbs.

Rhodiola is the poor man's ginseng!

Compared to the other adaptogenic herbs like Siberian Ginseng, Indian Ginseng (also known as Withania or Ashwagandha), and Korean Ginseng, Rhodiola is fairly reasonably priced. It is therefore realistic to take for an extended period of time.

Depending on your supplier, Siberian Ginseng + Indian Ginseng are another half more expensive than Rhodiola. And, Korean Ginseng is three times more expensive.

A Rhodiola plant is displayed this medicinal herb is used in stressful situations

Who would be better (stronger) for using this herb?

Rhodiola isn’t just used to increase your resilience to stress + anxiety. It improves your overall health + wellbeing + energy levels.

This herb enhances your ability to work harder and longer. It makes you more productive. Rhodiola also helps you to recover quickly from all kinds of stressors: exercise training, surgery, accidents and severe infections.

It gives you both quality and longevity of life.

More specifically, Rhodiola can benefit:

  1. People in demanding jobs and students

    It improves physical work capacity, mental work capacity and accuracy. It also reduces both physical and mental fatigue.

    Rhodiola increases concentration + memory.

    Clinical studies have shown that because this herb improves mental performance and reduces mental fatigue it allows students to achieve higher grades in their exams1.

  2. Athletes

    It improves fitness + performance + endurance.

  3. Sufferers of depression

    When a standardised extract of Rhodiola is administered over a 6-week period, it has been shown to improve mood in mild to moderate depression. This herb also improves insomnia and emotional instability2.

    Note: This was a Phase III clinical trial carried out as a randomised double-blind, placebo controlled study.

  4. Sufferers of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) and other depleted states

    Rhodiola both conserves and increases energy.

    Rhodiola can also provide additional support in some cases of CFS. (Where the person might also experience depression, anxiety or immune depletion.)

    This syndrome is what we refer to as a Mosaic Disease — meaning that this condition can express itself uniquely even though the fundamental elements of the condition are the same.

  5. Miscellaneous conditions

    Other possible uses for Rhodiola are the treatment of impotence, infections (like colds + flu), and cancer.

    This herb is beneficial for those who work ‘night duty’. It also provides resistance to high-altitude sickness, and maintains health while traveling.

Lisa says:

Always talk to a Medical Herbalist before taking herbs for medicinal purposes

We’ll make sure you get a standardised Practitioner Grade of Rhodiola — this is what the studies are based on. (To be effective this herb must contain both rosins and salidroside.)

We’ll make sure you get the appropriate dose required  for your particular condition.We may also recommend the use of this herb in conjunction with other herbs or supplements for added therapeutic effect.

Note: Rhodiola has a very low toxicity making it very safe to take at prescribed doses. However, this herb may not be suitable for everyone e.g. Those that suffer from bipolar disorder, or those with hysteric and phobic symptoms.

Rhodiola kind of slows everything else down so you’ve got time to react to your situation. Kinda like when Peter Parker becomes Spiderman

Make an appointment with Lisa

Lisa Fitzgibbon is a degree qualified (2006), experienced and registered Naturopath & Medical Herbalist. She runs her own private practice – OOMPH in Grey Lynn, Auckland, New Zealand.

Lisa has been involved in the Natural Health industry for 16 years. She draws on her professional training and experience, as well as her own personal experience to bring you realistic, holistic health advice.

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