While clinical trials of rhodiola are ongoing, the American Botanical Council (ABC) explains that the potential benefits of this herb can be attributed to its phytochemicals. These include flavonoids, phenolic acid, phenylpropanoids and more.
“At the cellular level, it works by modulating levels of hormones and neurotransmitters associated with stress, such as cortisol, serotonin and dopamine,” says Sherpa. “With regular use, it can [potentially] will result in improved well-being and overall health.”
While authoritative clinical research is limited, here are some of the theoretical health benefits of rhodiola supplements.
It can reduce stress and support mental health
Rhodiola supplements are perhaps best known for relieving stress and supporting mental health. Previous research has found that, unlike prescription drugs, rhodiola can reduce the effects of chronic stress without unwanted side effects. A review of human clinical trials further explains that while more human studies are needed, rhodiola has the potential to help treat related conditions such as anxiety and depression.
According to Mental Health America (MHA), rhodiola may also benefit:
“Overall, the effectiveness of Rhodiola rosea for stress and anxiety relief, mental fatigue and the treatment of ADHD require more research,” says Sherpa. “If you are considering taking Rhodiola rosea supplements, consult a physician to determine if it is right for your particular needs.
It can increase both mental and physical endurance
Rhodiola is believed to have stimulating effects on the central nervous system. This in turn can help boost neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and serotonin, while also boosting focus.
Research also suggests that rhodiola may increase physical endurance, which may explain the supplement’s increased use among some athletes. According to a separate systematic review of human interventional studies, rhodiola may increase energy levels and reduce the risk of exercise fatigue. Additionally, it may reduce post-exercise oxidative stress and inflammation, which could play a role in preventing muscle fatigue.
Additionally, research is also investigating the possible effects of rhodiola supplementation for the treatment of chronic fatigue syndrome. An earlier study found that participants given 200 mg of rhodiola extract twice a day experienced significant improvements in fatigue after eight weeks.
It can reduce inflammation in diseases, including high blood pressure
Rhodiola is considered to be an adaptogen that can have anti-inflammatory effects on the body. According to another review of both human and rodent studies, such effects are being studied for potential benefits in the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s.
And, a different review of mostly animal and in vitro research supports the possible use of rhodiola in the treatment of cardiovascular disease. While more research is needed, the authors of this review cite rhodiola’s potential benefits in treating hypertension, thrombosis, atherosclerosis, and more.