Can Rhodiola Rosea Help With Depression?

What Is Rhodiola Rosea And How Is It Used For Depression?

More and more natural health supplements have seen their popularity grow as consumers have become wary of synthetic-based medicine. This trends towards more plant-derived extracts for the treatment of various ailments has created a whole new market for natural supplements. One such supplement is Rhodiola Rosea, a type of root-extract that is said to have many medicinal purposes.

Rhodiola Rosea is an extract derived from roseroot with origins noted from Chinese and Scandinavian cultures. It’s mostly found in colder parts of the world like the Arctic, Siberia, and Euro-Asian Mountain areas at higher altitudes. Traditionally, it has been used by those in colder Russian climates to help deal with the harsh weather, while in Chinese cultures it’s been used to cope with certain kinds of altitude sickness. Newer studies on this plant have revealed additional health benefits that many have begun to communicate to the public at large.


These newly discovered benefits include enhancing physical performance, improving focus and alleviating mental fatigue, a characteristic similar to modern-day nootropics or smart drugs. Limited research indicates that Rhodiola Rosea accomplishes this by protecting cells from damage, regulating heartbeat, and thus indirectly improving learning and memory retention as a result. Its meant to be administered in high-stress situations to shorten recovery time after extreme physical exertion.

This is one reason for its increased popularity among informed consumers looking for a work-out or a smart drug supplement. There are also some who claim it has the properties of an adaptogen compound, a substance that is supposed to stabilize physiological processes and promote bodily homeostasis. Some preliminary medical studies have also shown it to be neuroprotective against toxins and can help promote physical longevity. There is even some research to suggest that it could have an indirect effect on symptoms of depression and anxiety, though more studies are needed to confirm this.

Recommended Dosage

The recommended dosage of Rhodiola Rosea is based on usage of the SHR-5 extract variant in particular or any other equivalent extracts, specifically, those that confer both 3% rosavins and 1% salidroside (most commonly marketed as Rhodiola Rosea). Daily oral dosages have shown to be effective in reducing physical and mental fatigue in amounts as low as 50 mg. The increased and acute reduction has been shown to result from 288-660 mg range. Exceeding 680 mg is not recommended as it has been shown to be ineffective and may result in some minor side effects. Age and the body weight of the user must also be taken into account when administering Rhodiola Rosea. The ideal daily dosage is a single, 500 mg capsule per day. Ideal results have been recorded from either low dosages over a long period of time or high dosages given acutely, especially toward fatigue recovery.

Side Effects

Rhodiola Rosea is mostly safe when taken orally in normal, healthy patients. The only ones who are at risk of some minor side effects are pregnant women and those with a history of and are being treated for heart disease and high blood pressure. This is probably because of the increase in cardiovascular exertion that results from the administration of this supplement.

Long-Term Use

There is limited research on the effects of long-term use of this supplement. Most indicate that overall physical longevity is possible with its use. There are some cases of higher blood pressure in those who use Rhodiola Rosea while undergoing HBP treatment or experiencing said symptoms. There are also some studies that suggest that long term use could result in lower levels of cortisol, a type of adrenal hormone. This indicates that cycling your usage of Rhodiola Rosea, as with all potent supplements, is recommended. Rhodiola Rosea for depression is commonly used the long-term and off label because of how it improves the overall clarity of thought, mood, and the mental state of one’s emotions.

Short-Term Use

Those who used this supplement have many similar short-term effects they all seem to notice. Most experience an improvement in mood and focus while those who use it as a workout supplement notice a reduction of the effects of prolonged and minor physical exhaustion that normally result in fatigue. This is more related to stress and the ‘burnout’ effect, or prolonged but low-intensity physical exercise. There is some limited evidence that individual limits of physical exercise can be improved with Rhodiola, but this appears to be limited to untrained persons with numerous studies on trained athletes suggesting that Rhodiola does not have an acute ergogenic effect. Despite this, Rhodiola Rosea appears to be highly reliable in reducing fatigue symptoms and improving symptoms of stress (and secondary to that, well-being) in persons fatigued from non-exercise related stressors. The primary short-term effects experienced seem to be psychological while physical benefits are secondary.

Is Rhodiola Rosea Legal?

Though easily obtainable from nutritional supplement stores and online markets, Rhodiola Rosea has not been approved for use as a cure or treatment of any disease or ailment by the FDA in the United States. This merely means that it is not 100% proven to be effective at the reduction of physical fatigue and in the improvement of mood and focus.

This also only indicates that more studies are needed to verify the previously researched and recorded effects reported concerning these benefits. Its lack of FDA approval is not in any way connected to any safety or toxicological risk inherent in the self-administration of Rhodiola Rosea. For the most part, it is safe to use by healthy adults and it only needs an adequate amount of FDA-approved studies to officially verify its benefits for medical prescription by health professionals. It is legal in all parts of the world where consumers are able to purchase it.

Final Thoughts

Overall, Rhodiola Rosea is safe to ingest within, and even slightly above, recommended dosages with little-to-no adverse, long term side effects. As long as those who are concerned about their cortisol levels cycle use, more or less six days on and one day off, there is little chance of immediate side effects. It poses the normal, traditional medication risks for pregnant women and those with high blood pressure and heart disease, but this risk is shared by even over-the-counter supplements like Tylenol and Ibuprofen. This indicates a similar safety expectation for Rhodiola Rosa. As to its benefits, even though more studies are needed to confirm them officially, there is ample evidence to suggest Rhodiola Rosa is indeed effective at reducing physical fatigue, improving cognition and enhancing your mental well-being. Use of Rhodiola Rosea for depression is extremely safe and such has been done for centuries.

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