Who couldn’t use a bit more energy? Many people would agree that increased stamina, endurance and energy is the second best thing to having more hours in the day but stimulants, even ones as mild as caffeine found in coffee or energy drinks can have a negative effect on stress. Many stimulants will activate a fight or flight response, especially in users sensitive to stimulants or who have adrenal based issues or anxiety. For folks who are looking for an effective focusing agent that can also beat lethargy without giving one the jitters, rhodiola rosea may be an excellent choice. Rhodiola rosea is often called Siberian Ginseng though it is not actually a true ginseng. It is however currently the second most popular adaptogenic herb, right behind the long treasured “cure-all” panax ginseng. Traditionally Rhodiola has been used for fatigue issues as well as anxiety and an endocrinal “balancing” compound.
Rhodiola could be a great benefit for those who are seeking more energy but though it’s been used by some professional athletes to beat work-out burnout it doesn’t seem to be inherently effective at prolonging workout output or duration though increase in low intensity physical exercise has been noted. Rhodiola seems to be able to reduce fatigue while also combating stress levels. Adaptogenic compounds are known for their ability to improve the body’s resistance to external and internal stressors and toxins.
Rhodiola is also considered a cognitive enhancer for users who have focus issues related to fatigue or stress. Stress and anxiety often result in increased levels of cortisol a hormonal substance that is closely connected to the adrenal fight or flight response. For those who are at baseline there is not enough evidence yet to assert that rhodiola is an effective cognitive enhancer, however the adaptogenic health benefits of rhodiola extend beyond that.
Rhodiola is suggested to be a highly neuroprotective agent against certain types of toxins, but more evidence needs to be gatherered to extrapolate those studies. Ingestion of rhodiola and its active constituents have been shown to reduce stress-induced binge eating in rodent trials. Rhodiola could possibly be mood boosting as well, considering it appears to be highly serotonergic. It’s action of increasing serotonin in the brain while reducing corticosteroids (neurotoxic byproducts of stress) could have application for both mood as well as the brain fog and fatigue that accompany high stress and anxiety.
Rhodiola may also be a rejuvenative as well as a possible helpful longevity extending supplement. Some preliminary evidence (in non-mammalian studies) seems to suggest that an 20% increase in lifespan could have been attributed to administration of rhodiola.
Rhodiola is also sometimes referred to as arctic root or Goldenroot, but should not be confused with Scutellaria Baicalensis (Chinese scullcap) which is also often referred to as Goldenroot. Rhodiola is energizing but not stimulating in the same manner as caffeine and most other traditional stimulants or energizers. It also inhibits the CYP3A4 enzyme which could result in a synergistic effect if Rhodiola is taken with other alkaloids.
Peak Nootropics’ Rhodiola is in the standard extraction of 3% rosavins, 1% salidrosides. A daily regimen of a dosage of 50mg at this concentration has been shown to be effective at preventing fatigue. For stress support, dosages of 280 to 680mg are recommended. Everyone has their own “sweet spot” and there will always be folks who are either more sensitive or possibly low (to no) responders. Always start small and titrate up as necessary. Like many nootropics, there seems to be a bell-shaped dosage response curve. 680mg, on average is the ceiling of the therapeutic window (i.e. the amount that seems effective without side effects or other concerns).
Salidroside may improve neurogenesis rates based on trials on diabetic rat. The mechanism of action behind this is theorized to be a reduction in oxidative stress which can prevent or slow down new nerve cell formation in diabetic mammals.
Another rodent trial involving a passive-avoidance test utilized rhodiola at 50-100mg/kg in a 9 day cycle. The results suggested that the supplementation resulted in enhanced memory in a dose and time dependent manner. Most studies involving rhodiola’s effect at improving cognition have not involved healthy, stress free animals so improvement above baseline in memory may not occur in those not experiencing stress related focus or memory issues. Rhodiola was also used as an antidote to induced memory loss involving the anticholinergic scopolamine.
When supplementing with anything, natural or not, its always a good idea to research the plant medicine or chemical compound thoroughly before adding it to your self-enhancement regimen. Everybody is different and every body is different, so always start slow and remember that the MAO inhibition that accompanies rhodiola supplementation may strengthen and/or lengthen the effects of some pharmaceuticals or other plant based remedies. Always check with your doctor or personal care practitioner before implementing any major diet, exercise or supplementation routine, especially if you’re currently under a doctor’s care.