Rhodiola rosea for exercise performance and recovery Original paper

This systematic review found that supplementation with Rhodiola rosea can improve various aspects of exercise performance and recovery.

This Study Summary was published on June 28, 2022.


Rhodiola rosea (RR) is a perennial herb with adaptogenic (i.e., aids the body’s response to stress and fatigue) properties and is mostly known for its ability to reduce fatigue. Although some studies suggest that RR can improve sports and exercise performance because the fatigue-fighting effects are associated with increased antioxidant capacity, enhanced energy production, and mitochondrial health, the evidence in humans had yet to be critically evaluated.

The study

This systematic review included 10 trials (8 randomized) involving healthy, young adult participants (ages 19–30, mostly men) who supplemented with RR or a placebo before an exercise test.

The study sample sizes ranged from 10 to 48 participants who had different levels of baseline training (recreational to professional). The RR supplement interventions ranged from 170 mg/day to 1,500 mg/day of various RR extracts. Half of the studies covered short-term effects (1 hour to 3 days), and the other half covered long-term effects (1 to 5 weeks).

The exercise tests ranged from resistance training to endurance exercise, and the study outcomes involved various measures of exercise performance and recovery.

The results

The RR treatment improved most outcomes of exercise performance and recovery, including the following:

  • Reductions in pain and muscle damage (e.g., creatine kinase)
  • Enhanced antioxidant capacity
  • Increased power output
  • Decreased ratings of perceived exertion

The RR treatment did not decrease inflammatory markers.


These results should be interpreted with caution because the included studies contained a broad range of RR extracts and doses, durations of treatment, exercise tests and measured outcomes, and participant baseline training experience.

The extraction and quantification methods for the RR supplements (as well the level of detail reported) varied among manufacturers, but most were standardized to a minimum of 3% rosavins and 1% salidrosides (the main chemicals thought to be responsible for RR’s effects).

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This Study Summary was published on June 28, 2022.