Health Benefits of Rhodiola Rosea Supplements

Rhodiola is a root, and its scientific name is rhodiola rosea. The root contains over 140 active ingredients. Russian people are using rhodiola for centuries to treat anxiety, fatigue, and depression. Today, for its many health benefits, people are using rhodiola rosea as a dietary supplement.

May Improves Brain Function

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Proper diet, physical activity, and a good night’s sleep are the best way to keep your brain healthy.

However, rhodiola supplements can help too. One study on mental fatigue in 56 night-time duty-workers shows promising results.

Rhodiola reduced mental fatigue and improved work-related performance by 20 percent compared to placebo.

Another study examined the effects of rhodiola in cadets carrying out night duties in military service. The cadets consumed either 370 mg or 555 mg of rhodiola or one of two placebos per day for five days.

Compared to placebos, both doses improved the mental capacity of the cadets.

In another study, after 20 days of taking rhodiola rosea supplements, students experienced reduced mental fatigue, improved sleep patterns and increased motivation for study. Their scores for the examination were also 8 percent higher than those in the placebo group.

Two research articles show evidence that rhodiola rosea can ease mental problems. We need more studies to reach the conclusions.

May Prevent Fatigue

Stress, anxiety, and insufficient sleep are just a few factors that can lead to exhaustion, which can cause physical and mental tiredness.

Rhodiola rosea can help ease fatigue, because of its adaptogenic properties. In one four-week study, participants took 576 mg of rhodiola rosea or one placebo pill daily. This found that rhodiola rosea group had a better effect on fatigue and focus levels compared to the placebo.

In a similar study, for eight weeks, 100 persons with chronic fatigue received 400 mg of rhodiola rosea every day.

Participants experienced significant improvements in symptoms of stress, fatigue, quality of life, mood, and concentration.

After only one week of treatment, these results were found and continued to improve through the last week of the study.

Decreases Depression Symptoms

Depression is a serious disease that affects how you feel and act. It happens when chemicals such as neurotransmitters in your brain become unbalanced.

It is common for health professionals to prescribe antidepressants to help correct these chemical imbalances.

Rhodiola rosea possesses antidepressant properties by balancing your brain’s neurotransmitters.

In a six-week study, they assigned 89 individuals with depression to receive either 340 mg or 680 mg of rhodiola or a placebo pill daily.

The rhodiola groups experienced significant changes in overall depression, insomnia, and emotional stability, while there were no differences in the placebo group.

Ironically, only the group took the greater dose reported self-esteem improvements. Another study compared the effects of rhodiola with the commonly prescribed sertraline antidepressant drugs.

It randomly assigned 57 people with depression to receive 12 weeks of rhodiola, sertraline, or a placebo pill.

While both rhodiola and sertraline decreased depression symptoms, sertraline had a greater effect. However, rhodiola has fewer side effects and you can tolerate it better than sertraline.

Can Reduce Stress

Rhodiola is an adaptogen, a natural substance that enhances the body’s non-specific resistance to stress. Consuming adaptogen can help you better handle stressful situations during stressful times.

In one research, participants received 400 mg daily over four weeks.

After just three days, they found significant changes in stress symptoms. Throughout the study, that progress continued rhodiola can also enhance burnout symptoms, which can occur with chronic stress.

It strengthened other associated factors, including stress and depression.

May Prevent Cancer

Salidroside is a powerful component of rhodiola, that acts as an anticancer agent. Test-tube studies show it may prevent the development of cancer cells in the bladder, colon, breast, and liver.

Researchers think rhodiola may be useful in the treatment of many cancer types. However, rhodiola’s effects on cancer are not clear. Therefore, we need more human studies to understand its effect on cancer.

May Help People With Diabetes

Diabetes is a disease that occurs when your body develops a reduced ability to make or respond to the hormone insulin, leading to high levels of blood sugar.

People with diabetes often use insulin injections or medications that increase the sensitivity of insulin to normalize their blood sugar levels.

Interestingly, animal research suggests that rhodiola can help improve control over diabetes.

In fact, blood sugar in diabetic rats diminishes by increasing the glucose transporters in the blood. These carriers lower blood sugar through the transport of glucose into the cells.

These are animal studies. Therefore, we need human studies to understand its effect on diabetes.

If you have diabetes and want to take rhodiola, be sure to talk with your health practitioner.

May Boost Exercise Performance

Studies show rhodiola can boost exercise performance. In one study, two hours before performing a cycling test, participants took 200 mg of Rhodiola or a placebo.

The rhodiola group performed exercise longer than the placebo. Another study examined its effects on endurance exercises. Participants went cycling for a simulated time trial race of six miles.

The participants took a dose of 1.4 mg per pound of body weight or a placebo pill one hour before the race.

Those who took rhodiola completed the race significantly faster than the placebo group.

Rhodiola can boost exercise performance in these studies by how intensely participants’ bodies were working.

Because of the lack of studies, it is impossible to conclude the rhodiola effects on muscle strength. To understand rhodiola’s effects on muscle strength, we need more studies to make conclusions.

Bottom Line

The Russian use rhodiola as a traditional medicine for decades. Studies have found that rhodiola can help enhance the response of the body to physical stressors such as exercise and psychological stressors. Test-tube and animal studies have also investigated its role in treating cancer and controlling diabetes. Overall, rhodiola has many health benefits, and it is safe if you take it in proper dosage. Before taking any supplements, we strongly recommend talking to your doctor.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much rhodiola I can take?

Taking rhodiola on an empty stomach is safe, but not before bedtime since it has a mild stimulatory effect. The effective dose of rhodiola rosea to relieve stress, fatigue, or depression symptoms is a 400–600 mg in a single dose per day. If you are after the performance-enhancing effects of rhodiola rosea, take a 200–300 mg an hour or two before exercise.

How to take rhodiola supplements?

Rhodiola extract is widely available in capsule form or tablet form. It is also available as tea, but many people prefer the form of the pill because it allows exact dosing.

How to look for rhodiola supplements?

Be sure to look at these supplement labels to ensure they contain a consistent 3 percent rosavin and 1 percent salidroside. These are the proportions of these compounds that occur naturally in the root of rhodiola rosea.

Is rhodiola safe?

Rhodiola is safe and well-tolerated. In fact, the suggested dosage of rhodiola rosea is less than 2% of the amount that has been shown to be dangerous in animal studies.


Rhodiola rosea in stress induced fatigue–a double blind cross-over study of a standardized extract SHR-5 with a repeated low-dose regimen on the mental performance of healthy physicians during night duty. Phytomedicine. 2000.

A randomized trial of two different doses of a SHR-5 Rhodiola rosea extract versus placebo and control of capacity for mental work. Phytomedicine. 2003.

A double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study of the stimulating and adaptogenic effect of Rhodiola rosea SHR-5 extract on the fatigue of students caused by stress during an examination period with a repeated low-dose regimen. Phytomedicine. 2000.

The effectiveness and efficacy of Rhodiola rosea L.: a systematic review of randomized clinical trials. Phytomedicine. 2011.

Rhodiola rosea for physical and mental fatigue: a systematic review. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2012.

A randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-group study of the standardised extract shr-5 of the roots of Rhodiola rosea in the treatment of subjects with stress-related fatigue. Planta Med. 2009.

Rhodiola rosea in Subjects with Prolonged or Chronic Fatigue Symptoms: Results of an Open-Label Clinical Trial. Complement Med Res. 2017.

Clinical trial of Rhodiola rosea L. extract SHR-5 in the treatment of mild to moderate depression. Nord J Psychiatry. 2007.

Rhodiola rosea versus sertraline for major depressive disorder: A randomized placebo-controlled trial. Phytomedicine. 2015.

Therapeutic effects and safety of Rhodiola rosea extract WS® 1375 in subjects with life-stress symptoms–results of an open-label study. Phytother Res. 2012.

Multicenter, open-label, exploratory clinical trial with Rhodiola rosea extract in patients suffering from burnout symptoms. Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat. 2017.

Rhodiola rosea extracts and salidroside decrease the growth of bladder cancer cell lines via inhibition of the mTOR pathway and induction of autophagy. Mol Carcinog. 2012.

Salidroside, A Natural Antioxidant, Improves β-Cell Survival and Function via Activating AMPK Pathway. Front Pharmacol. 2017.

Antihyperglycemic action of rhodiola-aqeous extract in type1-like diabetic rats. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2014.

The GLUT4 Glucose Transporter. Cell Metabolism. 2007.

Acute Rhodiola rosea intake can improve endurance exercise performance. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2004.

The effects of an acute dose of Rhodiola rosea on endurance exercise performance. J Strength Cond Res. 2013.

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Naeem Durrani BSc
I am a retired pharmacist, nutrition expert, journalist, and more. My interests include medical research, and the scientific evidence around effective wellness practices, which empower people to transform their lives.

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