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Rhodiola Rosea

Rhodiola rosea is an herb that's popular for its "adaptogenic" properties (reducing fatigue and exhaustion in prolonged stressful situations). Preliminary evidence has also looked at neuroprotection, among other possible benefits.

Our evidence-based analysis on rhodiola rosea features 153 unique references to scientific papers.

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Summary of Rhodiola Rosea

Primary information, health benefits, side effects, usage, and other important details

What is Rhodiola Rosea?

Rhodiola rosea is a herb in the rhodiola genera (Crassulaceae family) which has traditional usage as an anti-fatigue agent and adaptogen compound. Its main chemicals that are thought to be responsible for its effects are rosavin and salidroside.

What are Rhodiola Rosea's benefits?

Rhodiola appears to be able to significantly reduce the fatigue and 'burnout' that come from stress and anxiety; numerous trials suggest meaningful effects, particularly in people with stress and anxiety issues. This may extent to exercise, since there's some evidence that acute supplementation before exercise can reduce fatigue, but more research is needed before we can be confident in that. Furthermore, it seems to have an effect on reducing stress and anxiety themselves, and may improve mood generally. Whether or not this is secondary to a reduction in fatigue is hard to say. As can be expected from a reduction in fatigue, research suggests that it can improve various measures of cognitive function, assuming that fatigue is reduced.

Other potential uses of rhodiola include preliminary evidence that it is highly neuroprotective against toxins (requires more evidence) and that ingestion of rhodiola or its active component can reduce stress-induced binge eating in female rats. In the brain, Rhodiola appears to be highly serotonergic (increases serotonin) and reduces corticosteroids; the inhibition of monoamine oxidases (MAOs) commonly attributed to hodiola may not be relevant following oral ingestion of rhodiola, however. Rhodiola may also promote longevity, with preliminary (non-mammalian) evidence suggesting up to a 20% increase in lifespan secondary to mechanisms that are indepedent of caloric restriction. Although very promising, mammalian evidence is needed to confirm.

What are Rhodiola's sideeffects and drawbacks?

It's likely to be safe in the short to mid term (months to a year) when taken in normal doses. As with pharmacologically potent herbs in general, it may have notable drug interactions.

One study has found that some commercial Rhodiola products may be diluted or otherwise adulterated.

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How to Take

Medical Disclaimer

Recommended dosage, active amounts, other details

Supplementation of rhodiola rosea tends to refer to either the SHR-5 extract in particular or an equivalent extract, any that confers both 3% rosavins and 1% salidroside.

Usage of rhodiola as a daily preventative against fatigue has been reported to be effective in doses as low as 50mg.

Acute usage of rhodiola for fatigue and anti-stress has been noted to be taken in the 288-680mg range.

As rhodiola has been shown to have a bell-curve response before, it is recommended to not exceed the aforementioned 680mg dosage as higher doses may be ineffective.

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Human Effect Matrix

Unlocked for Examine members

The Human Effect Matrix summarizes human studies to tell you what effects Rhodiola Rosea has on your body, how much evidence there is, and how strong these effects are.

Full details are available to Examine members.
Grade Level of Evidence
Robust research conducted with repeated double-blind clinical trials
Multiple studies where at least two are double-blind and placebo controlled
Single double-blind study or multiple cohort studies
Uncontrolled or observational studies only
Level of Evidence
? The amount of high quality evidence. The more evidence, the more we can trust the results.
Outcome Magnitude of effect
? The direction and size of the supplement's impact on each outcome. Some supplements can have an increasing effect, others have a decreasing effect, and others have no effect.
Consistency of research results
? Scientific research does not always agree. HIGH or VERY HIGH means that most of the scientific research agrees.
Notes
grade-a Notable Very High See all 14 studies
The decrease in fatigue appears to be fairly strong and quite reliable when a low dose is given over a prolonged period of time or a high dose is given acutely; there are studies that have found an increase in fatigue, and one that found that it depended on the method of measuring fatigue, so it's possible that results, while generally positive, will be variable.
grade-b Notable Very High See all 4 studies
Notably effective assuming fatigue is being reduced. There is insufficient evidence to evaluate rhodiola's effects on cognition without the fatigue reduction aspect
grade-b Minor Very High See all 5 studies
The trend seems to suggest that it can improve subjective well-being secondary to a reduction in fatigue. One study found a reduction in self-ratings of subjective well-being, and potentially an increase in fatigue.
grade-c Minor - See all 4 studies
Research mostly points to a small effect, though evidence isn't particularly reliable or robust.
grade-c Minor Very High See 2 studies
A decrease in C-reactive protein has been noted with rhodiola supplementation; practical significance of these results unknown
grade-c Minor Very High See all 7 studies
Evidence is fairly mixed, but generally supports a reduction, but more studies in major depression are specifically needed to judge its efficacy.
grade-c Minor - See study
A decrease in lactate production has been noted with rhodiola supplementation; practical significance unknown
grade-c Minor Very High See all 3 studies
Able to reduce circulating levels of creatine kinase following exercise
grade-c Minor - See study
Increases in processing accuracy are likely secondary to reductions in fatigue
grade-c Minor - See all 3 studies
Limited evidence suggests a reduction from aerobic exercise when taken acutely or chronically
grade-c Minor - See all 6 studies
A small reduction in subjective ratings seems to be fairly consistent, though the evidence isn't particularly robust.
grade-c - - See study
No significant effects yet noted on blood pressure
grade-c - Very High See all 4 studies
No significant influences on heart rate found so far
grade-c - Very High See all 3 studies
No significant influences on lipid peroxidation biomarkers in serum
grade-c - - See study
No significant effects on oxygenation during exercise or simulated altitude tests
grade-c - Very High See 2 studies
Mixed evidence. There was an improvement in max power on a cycle ergometer test in one study.
grade-c - Very High See all 3 studies
No significant influences on reaction time
grade-c - - See study
May slightly improve oxygen consumption during submaximal exercise in untrained persons, but overall the improvement in VO2 max does not appear to be highly potent or reliable.
grade-c - - See study
Unable to modify weight over time
grade-d Minor Very High See 2 studies
Very preliminary evidence suggests a slight improvement in time to completion and time to exhaustion on cycle ergometer tests.
grade-d Minor - See study
An increase in healthy participants has been noted in one study.
grade-d Minor - See study
One study found an increase in superoxide dismutase in healthy participants. Its effect on other antioxidant enzymes is unclear.
grade-d Minor - See study
Increases in total antioxidant capacity of blood have been noted in one study.
grade-d Minor Very High See 2 studies
Reductions have been noted in studies on people suffering from stress-induced burnout and those with mild anxiety.
grade-d Minor Moderate See 2 studies
Mixed evidence. The study that found a reduction found it during submaximal exercise.
grade-d
Minor
- See all 3 studies
Salivary cortisol in the morning in one study and post-exercise (but not at baseline or over 24 hours) was reduced in another study, while a third didn't find an effect.
grade-d
Minor
- See study
One study found that it was higher than placebo directly after a marathon, but not notably different before or 1.5 hours after the marathon.
grade-d Minor - See study
One study found a small reduction directly after exercise, but not before or over the course of 24 hours.
grade-d Minor - See study
One study noted a reduction during a marathon.
grade-d Minor - See study
A small improvement in people suffering from burnout was noted in one study.
grade-d Minor - See study
One study on marathon runners found less of a reduction during a marathon than placebo.
grade-d Minor Very High See 2 studies
An improvement in one uncontrolled study in people experiencing burnout and an improvement in mood during exercise have been noted.
grade-d Minor - See study
General daily pain was reduced in one study on people experiencing normal but notable stress.
grade-d Minor - See study
Overall subjective ratings improved somewhat in one uncontrolled study of people experiencing burnout.
grade-d Minor - See study
There was a small improvement in people with mild anxiety.
grade-d Minor - See study
There was an improvement in one study of people with mild anxiety, though it's not clear if this can be distinguished from general effects on fatigue.
grade-d
Minor
- See 2 studies
An improvement was found in people with mild anxiety, but not healthy, recreationally active people.
grade-d - - See study
No apparent effect during exercise in one study.
grade-d - Low See all 3 studies
Mixed evidence with no apparent resolution.
grade-d - - See study
No apparent effect during exercise in one study.
grade-d - See study
One study noted a reduction in insomnia symptoms for people with mild to moderate depression, but didn't supply data.
grade-d - - See study
No apparent effect in one study.
grade-d - - See 2 studies
Mixed evidence, the reason not being apparent. An increase and decrease have been noted.
grade-d - - See study
No apparent effect on AST or ALT in one study of marathon runners.
grade-d - - See study
No apparent effect in one study.
grade-d - - See study
No apparent effect in one study.
grade-d - - See study
No apparent effect in one study, before or after a marathon.
grade-d - - See study
No apparent effect after a marathon in one study.
grade-d - - See study
No apparent effect after a marathon in one study.
grade-d - - See all 3 studies
Mixed evidence but there was a nonsignificant decrease in people with normal stress, and improvements in people with burnout and chronic fatigue symptoms, but the latter studies weren't controlled.
grade-d - - See study
No apparent effect in one study.
grade-d - - See study
No apparent effect in one study.

Studies Excluded from Consideration

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Things to Note

Primary Function:

Also Known As

Rosavin, Rosenroot, Rhodiola Rhizome, Golden Root, Arctic Root, Rhidola

Do Not Confuse With

Other species of Rhodiola, Rosa damascena, Rosmarinic Acid, Roselle, Scutellaria baicalensis (also called Goldenroot)

Goes Well With

Caution Notice

Rhodiola rosea may interact with enzymes of drug metabolism

  • Rhodiola rosea is slightly stimulatory, although not classically stimulatory like caffeine

  • Rhodiola rosea is known to inhibit the CYP3A4 enzyme in vitro at concentrations which likely occur to oral ingestion

  • One study has found that some commercial Rhodiola rosea supplements bought in the UK may be adulterated through dilution or additives

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Click here to see all 153 references.