Spotlight on Rhodiola: The Golden Root

It’s not often a plant is referred to as a “Golden Root” — but in this case, this impressive nickname is certainly warranted.

6 min read

Spotlight on Rhodiola: The Golden Root

It’s not often a plant is referred to as a “Golden Root” — but in this case, this impressive nickname is certainly warranted. Although Rhodiola is quite pleasing on the eyes due to its natural golden-yellow color, this special herb is known for benefits that go beyond what the eyes see. In fact, Rhodiola is known to promote overall health and wellness to the body — especially when it comes to reducing stress and fighting fatigue.


Rhodiola rosea (the full scientific name) originates in areas high in altitude and latitude — specifically Siberia and the Tian Shan mountain range of northwestern China. This botanical is considered an adaptogen due to its stress-reducing capabilities and therapeutic properties, not unlike the Schisandra berry.

This adaptogen has been a mainstay in medical practices for thousands of years — with the likes of Chinese Emperors, Viking Explorers, and Inuit Tribesmen among the most notable historical figures being fans of Rhodiola. These warriors counted on Rhodiola to promote physical and mental energy, endurance, and performance.

Although the aforementioned emperors, explorers, and tribesmen were only able to base their knowledge of Rhodiola on how the plant made them feel, it’s helpful to know that the capabilities of this prized botanical are now backed by clinical studies. The fact that a number of historical figures used Rhodiola to fight fatigue and manage stress is impressive, but the need for extensive research and study is still relevant.

The Golden Root in Action

There are a number of clinical studies that confirm Rhodiola’s anti-stress and fatigue fighting prowess. However, the impact this herb also has on energy levels should not be overlooked. Perhaps the most informative of studies —  The Effects of an Acute Dose of Rhodiola Rosea on Endurance Exercise Performance — might serve as a deep-dive into clinical research on Rhodiola. This study set out to determine the effects Rhodiola has on endurance, exercise performance, perceived exertion, mood, and cognitive function. To carry out this study, volunteers participated in a warmup exercise lasting 10 minutes, followed by a 6-mile time trial run. The results were clear: “Acute R. rosea ingestion decreases heart rate response to submaximal exercise and appears to improve endurance exercise performance by decreasing the perception of effort.”

In short, Rhodiola rosea positively impacted the heart rate of the volunteers, which is a welcoming sign for Rhodiola users — especially athletes — who seek a way to properly promote energy, endurance, and stamina levels. In fact, the official website of Chris Kilham, the world-renown Medicine Hunter®, considered Rhodiola rosea to be “a valuable aid for athletes.”

Kilham goes on to proclaim Rhodiola rosea to be his botanical of choice for daily use. He cites energy promotion, stamina support, mental clarity, and even immune support as some of the reasons why he holds this particular herb in such high regard.

Familiarizing yourself with clinical studies that support the stress reducing and fatigue fighting power of Rhodiola, along with the botanical’s other benefits, is important. However, it might be a good idea to discover what makes The Golden Root such a prize.

The Unique Nature of Rhodiola

The Rhodiola rosea root contains three active constituents: rosin, rosavin, and rosarin. These key ingredients are collectively known as “rosavins” and are exclusive to the Rhodiola plant. Each individual rosavin plays a role in the plant’s extraordinary — and unrivaled — ability to manage stress in a healthy manner. On average, the standard Rhodiola supplement contains 3% rosavin content.

At first glance, you’ll most likely read about how Rhodiola consists of anti-stress and fatigue fighting properties. However, it also protects the body and mind against oxygen deprivation and supports immune function. The official Medicine Hunter website credits the rosavins found in Rhodiola as an important factor that helps the plant carry out these particular benefits.

Although rosavins are one of the key constituents of Rhodiola rosea, there is another important biomarker found in the plant. Salidroside, the perhaps lesser known agent found in Rhodiola, features a different chemical makeup but has been clinically studied to show support for cognitive function, oxidative stress, and inflammation.

Both rosavins and salidroside are active ingredients found in the root of Rhodiola rosea. Although they do not share the same chemical structure, they both provide the botanical with a number of beneficial capabilities that make this particular herb special.

Historical Significance of Rhodiola

As mentioned, Rhodiola has been used for hundreds of years. Starting with Chinese Emperors, Viking Explorers, and Inuit Tribesmen and continuing on with the modern-day human, this adaptogen is commonplace in medical practices.

Although Rhodiola — along rosavins and salidroside key constituents — helped guide these ancient men through treacherous conditions, the capabilities of Rhodiola rosea fit nicely into the needs of today’s humans as well. Today, Rhodiola is utilized for proper energy support and stress management in the fast-paced, technology-driven society we belong to.

It is quite impressive to remain relevant for thousands of years, but Rhodiola has done just that. As mentioned, historical figures used the adaptogen, and with the rise of clinical studies backing the capabilities of Rhodiola, it is safe to assume this plant is here to stay.

Modern Olympic athletes have utilized the energizing and fatigue fighting properties of Rhodiola for decades, but this plant is rising in popularity — and for good reason. Aside from its proper support for a number of key functions throughout the body, it is becoming increasingly easier to come in contact with Rhodiola. One of the best kept secrets of the former Soviet Empire was their use of Rhodiola to spur on the physical and mental capabilities of their Cosmonauts! Thankfully, the fall of the Iron Curtain has brought Rhodiola to higher prominence in the modern world.

Rhodiola For Proper Stress Relief

At its core, Rhodiola is known for its anti-stress properties. This herb is considered an adaptogen because it helps the body manage stress in a healthy manner. It is not uncommon to use Rhodiola to deal with stress, especially in other countries. As Chris Kilham puts it, “Rhodiola’s anti-stress and fatigue-fighting properties make it one of the most popular botanicals in all of Siberia.”

As mentioned, the rosavins are located in the root of Rhodiola rosea and play key role in carrying out the anti-stress capabilities of the plant. Simply put — Rhodiola does a great job of supporting the body’s natural stress reactions. In fact, there is evidence-based research that backs this claim, as shown in research examined by the Association for the Advancement of Restorative Medicine found here.

According to the research, “A multicenter study investigated the effects of 200 mg of Rhodiola twice a day compared with placebo on stress symptoms and reported that improvements could be seen as early as 3 days, with continued improvements over each week of the study.” The fact that this study shows improvements in just 3 days is a testament to impact Rhodiola has on stress and anxiety.

The Brain Boosting Botanical

 Rhodiola supports various key functions in the brain. Each function is required for healthy brain activity and includes attention, memory, and thought formation. Rhodiola also effects mental and emotional health, endurance, and fatigue as well. In fact, studies have shown that Rhodiola has beneficial effects on mental performance but requires further testing to paint the full picture.

This herb does, however, show a consistent ability to promote mental and physical endurance by fighting fatigue. As reported by the journal Planta Medica, the repeated intake of Rhodiola Rosea “exerts an anti-fatigue effect that increases mental performance, particularly the ability to concentrate, and decreases cortisol response to awakening stress in burnout patients with fatigue syndrome.”

An Adaptogen for The Past, Present, and Beyond!

For hundreds of years, Rhodiola has played a key role in herbal and non-traditional medical practices for managing stress, fighting fatigue, boosting energy, and more. The anti-stress aspect found in this herb was useful for emperors and explorers and still relevant to the ordinary person today. This small green plant with golden blossoms is one of the more extraordinary adaptogens in nature and it has performed exceptionally well in clinical studies.

Although Rhodiola isn’t found in food sources, there are elite nutritional supplements that contain the Golden Root. With that said, make sure to do your due diligence when it comes to researching which Rhodiola vitamin is right for you!




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