Is Rhodiola Rosea a Nootropic?

Rhodiola rosea has been used for mental and physical fatigue since the time of the Vikings! But is rhodiola rosea a nootropic?

So far, we’ve determined that rhodiola acts as a powerful antioxidant, and it regulates stress hormones like cortisol.

Rhodiola doesn’t increase energy levels directly, but it does protect your brain and body from damage caused by inflammation.

Let’s dig a little deeper to better understand the roots of these benefits, shall we?

What is Rhodiola Rosea?

Rhodiola is a medicinal herb that has been used in Northern Europe, Asia, and Russia for thousands of years.

Vikings used it to get psyched up for raids, and cosmonauts have used it to stay on task while in orbit.

Is rhodiola rosea a nootropic - Picture of the earth from space

Also known as ‘Golden Root’, or ‘Arctic Root’,  rhodiola has been known to improve productivity in workers, enhance memory, reaction times, and mental focus.

The root of the rhodiola plant contains active ingredients called ‘Rosavins’ and ‘Salidrosides’, which provide its’ beneficial effects.

Rhodiola is known as both an adaptogen, and an ergogenic.

Adaptogens provide neuroprotective properties from stress hormones, and ergogenic compounds enhance overall performance.

Scientists are still trying to clearly define just how effective rhodiola can be, as well as the mechanisms that allow it to work.

Studies have been done with healthy individuals testing its’ ability to enhance performance.

People with various impairments have also been participating in clinical trials to measure it’s therapeutic value.

Rhodiola Rosea Benefits – How does it Work?

In addition to the well known advantages mentioned above, rhodiola has been found to have a lot of other health benefits.

This is a short list:

  • Anti-Aging
  • Anti-Cancer
  • Antidepressant
  • Anti-Inflammatory
  • Immune System Stimulant

Acting as a potent antioxidant is generally believed to account for the anti-aging, anti-cancer, and anti-inflammatory advantages of rhodiola.

But what about its’ other effects as an antidepressant and an immune system booster?

What are the inner workings?

Is rhodiola rosea a nootropic - Pulleys and gears in a machine

Rhodiola for Depression – How does it Work?

The 3 neurotransmitters most directly related to issues with depression are dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine.

The predominant theory right now is that rhodiola helps reduce symptoms of depression by optimizing all 3 of these key neurotransmitters.

Then of course, there’s the potential for therapeutic applications.  Rhodiola is being studied for its’ ability to treat:

  • Alzheimer’s
  • Parkinson’s
  • Cerebrovascular Disease
  • Diabetes
  • Cardiovascular Disease

Rhodiola contains a host of phytonutrients like flavonoids, tannins, terpenoids, and sterols; which may explain why it’s so good for us.

Phytonutrients are loosely defined as ‘compounds found in plants that benefit human health with little or no side effects’.

This closely parallels that of a nootropic substance, the only difference being that nootropics improve cognition with almost no side effects.

Which begs the question, does rhodiola improve mental capacities enough to be considered a brain booster?

Is Rhodiola Rosea a Nootropic? – How Powerful is it?

The overall effect of rhodiola is to energize the central nervous system.

The CNS has 2 major components, the ‘sympathetic’, and the ‘parasympathetic’.

Is rhodiola rosea a nootropic - Electricity arcing between two metal plates

You could think of the sympathetic system as being ‘Yang’, and the parasympathetic system ‘Yin’, to use a simple metaphor.

When we’re excited, or feel threatened, the sympathetic system is activated.  This is commonly referred to as our, ‘fight-or-flight’ reaction.

A more technical way of phrasing it would be to say that our sympatho-adrenal-system(SAS) is activated.

This is where the nervous system and the adrenal system communicate.

Conversely, when we are at rest, the parasympathetic system is working.  This is known as our, ‘rest-and-digest’, or our, ‘feed-and-breed’ response.

The parasympathetic system regulates digestion, sexual arousal, and several other functions.

Rodiola Rosea – The Herbal Powerhouse!

In any case, Rhodiola has 3 major effects:

  1. Energy Booster – rhodiola acts as an ergogenic by stimulating the sympatho-adrenal-system(SAS), which accounts for the common experience of ‘feeling energized’.
  2. Adaptogen – rhodiola protects the body and the mind from stress factors, allowing it to prevent the premature death of brain cells.
  3. Optimizes Neurotransmitters – rhodiola stops the enzymes that break down acetylcholine, dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine from working.

When rhodiola revs up the SAS, more adrenaline is released into the bloodstream, and the sympathetic nervous system is more active.

At the same time, rhodiola prevents stress hormones like cortisol from putting too much strain on neurons.

Finally, rhodiola acts as a reuptake inhibitor for several neurotransmitters, keeping their levels high for better performance.

Is rhodiola rosea a nootropic - Plasma ball

These are some pretty impressive benefits, but are there any other concerns we should know about?

Rhodiola Rosea Reviews – What don’t they mention?

Rhodiola isn’t perfect, and I have some recommendations for how to use it for best results.

First thing to note is that because it regulates the hormones in our body, rhodiola needs to be ‘cycled’.

Simply put, you should give yourself a break.

A good example would be taking your supplement or stack during the work week, and leaving it on the shelf during the weekend.

This allows your body to recover from operating at such a high level during the week, and to rebalance itself.

Another thing to realize is that rhodiola is often paired with bacopa monnieri because they compliment each other really well.

While rhodiola stimulates the sympathetic nervous system, bacopa activates the parasympathetic nervous system.

If we follow this train of thought a little further, taking CDP Choline with rhodiola and bacopa also creates a great synergy.

CDP choline provides the building blocks needed to create acetylcholine in the brain.

Acetylcholine was the first neurotransmitter ever discovered, and it performs numerous functions necessary for working memory, learning, and mental focus.

Is rhodiola rosea a nootropic - Woman holding string of lights

Don’t get me wrong, rhodiola is a great nootropic on its’ own, but it can do so much more for you when combined with other nootropics.

That being said, what are the correct amounts to take for it to work well?

Rhodiola Rosea Dosage – Recommendations for Best Results

Rhodiola is available in teas, tablets, powders, or capsules.

How much you need to take for it to be effective depends on a lot of factors.

The recommended daily dosage can range from 50 mg/day to 600 mg/day.

Is rhodiola rosea a nootropic - Light bulb floating above an open hand

In order to experience improvements in energy, learning, memory, and focus, the recommended dosage is 50-200 mg/day.

I know this is a pretty broad range, but with rhodiola, a little can go a long way.  It really depends on your individual body chemistry, and how potent the supplement.

Generally speaking, I would also encourage you to get the highest quality supplement you can find.

The active ingredients are rosavins and salidrosides.  Ideally, you want a supplement that is standardized to contain:

  • Rosavins – 3%
  • Salidrosides – 1%

This is the magic formula that has been found to provide the most benefits for users, so make sure your chosen supplement has this 3 to 1 ratio.

In addition, look for a product that is ‘Certified Organic’ to ensure it is free of any pesticides, heavy metals, or bacterial contaminants.

The reason I am being such a stickler about the 3 to 1 ratio is that there have been a lot of cases where the amount of active ingredients in rhodiola supplements have been so low that they were completely ineffective.

There are a lot of reasons for this…

Rhodiola plants that are grown in harsher climates tend to grow more slowly, and are typically more potent.

So the quality of the ingredients can vary widely depending on where the plants are grown.

Is rhodiola rosea a nootropic - Wild Rhodiola Rosea Growing

In addition, the longer rhodiola ingredients are held in storage, the less effective they become.  You might want to check your expiration dates…

That being said, assuming you find a fresh and potent product, how safe is rhodiola?

Rhodiola Side Effects – Safety Guidelines

Rhodiola is well tolerated by most individuals.

The most common issues are headaches and insomnia.  In very rare instances, some users have experienced nausea and a dry mouth.

However, rhodiola can also lower blood pressure enough for it to be a concern for diabetics, and anybody taking blood pressure medication.

There have also been some instances of people feeling agitated or overstimulated.

These ‘jitters’ usually pass quickly, but anyone having this kind of reaction should stop taking rhodiola immediately.

As always, if you have any special medical concerns, please consult with your doctor before taking a new supplement.

All this being said, rhodiola is generally considered quite safe.

Ready to wrap things up?  Let’s take stock of what we’ve learned…

Rhodiola Rosea – Final Comments

So is rhodiola rosea a nootropic?  Does it improve mental capacities with minimal side effects?

Yes, I think it qualifies.

If you’re constantly under stress, and having problems with ‘brain fog’ because of it, rhodiola is a very good solution for you.

There are numerous rhodiola-based supplements online, and at your local health food store that can fit the bill.

Is rhodiola rosea a nootropic - A Volt Meter Measuring Energy Level

However, I’m not going to recommend a specific rhodiola-based supplement.

Instead, I would encourage you to use a comprehensive nootropic stack that combines rhodiola with bacopa monnieri and CDP choline.

The reasoning behind this is that rhodiola, bacopa, and CDP choline together make an amazing combination that is more balanced, and should provide you with more energy long term.

This approach will also provide you with a clean source of energy; free of sugar and stimulants.

Personally, I take Mind Lab Pro, and it contain all 3 ingredients as a part of a very well formulated stack.

If you want to take advantage of the benefits rhodiola has to offer, I highly recommend you give Mind Lab Pro a try.

All right, that’s about all I wanted to share with you today about rhodiola.

I really like how it provides stress protection and optimizes energy levels at the same time.

It’s a great natural supplement to enhance performance.

If you have any questions, please leave a comment below, and I will be more than happy to help you out!


In my next article, I will be talking about L-Theanine, and how it can benefit all you neuro-hackers out there!

Until next time,



P.S.- If you know anyone having trouble with their energy level, share this article with them!  Use the buttons below!

Take care!

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22 thoughts on “Is Rhodiola Rosea a Nootropic?”

  1. I have never heard of Rhodiola. This seems to be a super plant, judging by all the benefits you listed. Did we just discover why the vikings were such fierce warriors? 😉

    Your paragraph about stress which might cause brain damage made me pause. When I had a burn out, my brain was inflammed for months…

    That is all over now, it happened years ago and my brain seems to be working well, but still, it made me wonder for a little while, what if …? But I think everything’s OK though, there are no issues 🙂

    I like tea a lot, so I am wondering if there are any good teas with Rhodiola that you can recommend.  

    • Hi Christine,

      Thank you for reading my article on Rhodiola!

      I haven’t tried Rhodiola as a tea, but there are several options online.  The best recommendation I can give you is to suggest that you find a brand that you think would work well for you.

      The bit about brain damage deserves some explanation.  

      When people are under constant stress, neurons start getting re-wired so that less connections are made to the parts of the brain in charge of executive function.  This results in abilities like strategic planning becoming impaired.

      If you believe you might have been affected by stress in this way, you should read my article about the best brain supplement for seniors.  The formula used in that supplement is specifically targeted to helping the brain heal itself.

      Please give that article a read, and let me know if you decide to give it a try.

      If you have any other questions, please post another comment, and I will help you out!


  2. Wow! 

    This is definitely the first time I am hearing about Rhodiola as a nootropic for energy. 

    To be honest, everything I have read here is really encouraging, especially considering how this works. However, without ruling out the problems associated with its use as a side effect, it is really good, and I see myself using it because of its potency.

    Thanks Michael! 

    • Hey Angela,

      Thanks for reading my article.

      I am really glad that you are considering using Rhodiola to boost your energy.  If you want to minimize the possibility of side effects, and enhance it’s potency, try taking it with Bacopa Monnieri.  These 2 nootropics compliment each other very well.

      If you think of any other questions later, post another comment.

      I love helping people with their nootropics questions!


  3. This post is packed with helpful information!

    A lot of posts that I come across are not very helpful, or just give bits and pieces of what the header is actually about.

    In this post, I was able to learn about the root plant that vikings and Russians used to help their central nervous system.  My grandpa has Alzheimer’s, and I know that this plant would have helped him a lot in his late adult age.  

    Now he has had Alzheimer’s for about 4 years.  However, I will look into this further to help prevent neural problems with me as I get older.

    Thank you for the information Michael!

    • Hey Eric,

      Thanks so much for reading my article!  I’m glad you got a lot out of it.

      You might also be interested in reading my article titled, “What is the Best Brain Supplement for Seniors?”.  There is a lot of helpful information in that post about nootropics that can help with Alzheimer’s and dementia.

      There is also a recommendation for a supplement developed by a family that lost 2 of it’s members to Alzheimer’s and dementia.  It’s called BrainMend, and it’s specifically designed to help with these kinds of issues.

      Please give it a read.  I think that article would be very relevant to your situation.

      If you have any other questions you think of later, please post another comment below!


  4. Hello Michael,

    This is a fascinating blog on Rhodiola that I wasn`t previously familiar with.  I regularly take ginko biloba, and I can confirm that it has helped my memory considerably.  I explored that link from your page and can agree with its conclusions.

    But Rhodiola is something that I could also add to my armory to support my health, particularly if it helps, to prevent mental a & physical fatigue. Your description of how it works was clear and eloquent.

    However, I was concerned to see it causes headaches, but your suggestion to alternate its use seems like pragmatic advice, so I will not be put off. I will try some. Particularly as it has an impressive list of other benefits.

    Is there anything you cannot take with Rhodiola at the same time?  E.g. blood pressure tablets?

    • Hi Trevor,

      Thanks for giving my blog post a read.  I’m glad to hear that Ginko is working out well for you.

      In answer to your questions, I would recommend that you speak to your doctor before taking Rhodiola supplements, simply because I can’t really offer medical advice.  I would also encourage you to do some additional research, and look for reliable information sources.

      I did see on WebMD that there are some precautions for people with diabetes, or who are taking blood pressure medications, because Rhodiola can lower blood pressure.  WebMD is a pretty good information source.

      Thanks for your very thoughtful and insightful comment!  You are right on point, my friend!

      If you think of any other questions going forward, please post another comment!


  5. Awesome!

    I have never heard about Rhodiola until now!

    Thanks for making my day!  It’s nice to know about all the beneficial effects of Rhodiola, as well as how it works.

    Apart from headaches, are there any other side effects of Rhodiola?  I have heard it said that the human body reacts differently to different substances.

    If Rhodiola could be confirmed to be an effective treatment for diabetes and other severe diseases, it would be very helpful.

    Thanks for the post, and i will be sure to share this information.


    • Hi Alexy,

      Thanks so much for reading my article.  Really glad you liked it!

      You are very right about different people having unique reactions to certain supplements.  It really depends on their individual body chemistry.

      Rhodiola has been know to lower blood pressure, so anyone using blood pressure medication, or who happens to be diabetic should consult with their doctor before taking it.  I would also encourage you to read a bit more about Rhodiola so that you know what to expect before supplementing with it.

      I also have to agree with you about the clinical research being done right now.  It’s looking promising, and is very exciting!

      Thanks once again for your comment Alexy.

      Please let me know if you have any other questions going forward.  Just post another comment below, and I will get right back to you.


  6. Hello Michael,

    It’s nice to be on your site reading such a beautiful article.  I’ve been researching a couple of topics where supplements have caused some damage to the user because of the things used in making it.

    Knowing that Rhodiola is natural, and that it helps the brain deal with stress hormones gives me some satisfaction. Also, I appreciate knowing about its’ ability to help the immune system, as well as with aging.


    • Hey Benson,

      Thanks for reading, and sharing your feedback.

      Yes, unfortunately, there are a lot of supplements out on the market with questionable ingredients.  You really need to do your research, and make sure you are getting something that will actually help you.

      That’s why I always encourage people to share what they know when they find a supplement, or a good company that is the real deal.  They should get rewarded for all of their hard work.

      It also helps drive out all of the manufacturers that are just trying to make a quick buck.

      Thanks once again, Benson, and if you think of any other questions later, just leave another post!


  7. Hi Michael,

    Very interesting article on Rhodiola Rosea. I’ve read where this herb can have both a calming as well as a stimulation affect depending on what the person taking it needs. It’s interesting that it grows in the coldest countries like Siberia. It makes you wonder what it is in those parts of the world that creates a plant like that. I bookmarked your page and will look forward to your next article.  Great work.


    • Hey Larry,

      Thanks for reading, and sharing your insights.

      Yes, you are right.  Rhodiola can be very adaptable, and can be used for a wide range of benefits.

      It’s also interesting to note that Rhodiola is often taken together with Bacopa Monnieri because they compliment each other really well.  You might be interested in reading another article I wrote, “The Best Nootropic Supplement – Mind Lab Pro”.  

      Rhodiola, Bacopa, and Citicholine are all combined in Mind Lab Pro to provide a very powerful synergy.  These ingredients don’t just compliment one another, they augment each others’ effects.

      Please let me know what you think if you do read about Mind Lab Pro, and post another comment.

      I’ll be sure to get back to you right away.


  8. I’m new to this whole nootropic supplementation thing so this is a helpful article to read. I’m currently taking Ginkgo to improve on blood circulation but could definitely use some extra help with boosting my energy.

    Stress runs high in the nature of my job, and I like to have something that can protect my body from the negative impact of stressful conditions.

    I’ll run through my online pharmacy to see if I can buy Rhodiola Rosea. Thanks for sharing. 

    • Hi Cathy,

      Thanks for reading my article.  Really appreciate your interest!

      Rhodiola should help you with your energy level.  You might also be interested in reading my article about Ashwaghandha.  The article is called, ‘What’s the Best Nootropic for Anxiety?’.

      Ashwaghanda is a very close second to Rhodiola for promoting a state of relaxed focus.

      If you do read it, and have some questions, just give me a holler!

      I’ll be happy to help you out!


  9. Hello Michael,

    I have been using Rhodiola for some time now, and it has been really helpful.

    Knowing that Rhodiola is natural, and that it helps the brain deal with stress hormones also gives me some satisfaction.

    It’s also good to know about its’ ability to help the immune system, as well as with aging.

    Thanks so much for sharing!

    • Hi Sophia,

      Thank you so much for reading my article.  Really appreciate your interest!

      I am really glad that Rhodiola is working out for you!

      If you think of any questions later, please post another comment below, and I’ll get right back to you!


  10. Hi Michael,

    I must confess, I have never heard of Rhodiola before reading this article.  It really seems to be a super plant, judging by all the benefits you listed.

    I think I’m going to try this plant out and see for myself what it can really do.  Believe it or not, this is the 5th article I have come across that talks about Rhodiola.

    Thanks for sharing, and I hope this post helps others as it has helped me.

    • Hello Sir!

      Thank you for reading my write up on Rhodiola Rosea.  It truly is a classic!

      A lot of people are surprised when they find out just how many benefits Rhodiola has to offer.  Trust me, you are not the only one.  The potential side effects are minimal, and it’s not expensive, so if you are thinking of trying a Rhodiola supplement, I say go for it!

      One word of caution, though.  The potency of the extracts from the root of the plant can vary widely, depending on where the plant was grown.  Some consumers have reported that the supplements they bought had no effect.

      Buy a high quality product, and make sure it has a money back guarantee before you purchase anything.  You just might need to exercise your rights in that regard!

      Thanks once again for reading, and if you think of any questions later on, just post another comment below.


  11. Hey Michael,

    Before reading your post – I had no idea what a Nootropic was, nor had I heard of Rhodiola Rosea.  I was aware of Ginko Biloba – but was surprised to learn that Rhodiola has the effect of preventing mental and physical fatigue.

    I appreciate your warning about the headaches and advising to cycle the supplement.

    I am concerned about where to find the best and purest form.  Even at the health stores – I am not always sure that I am getting the best product. 

    You mentioned that Mind Lab Pro is a good supplement.

    Where can I get it?

    • Hey Steve,

      I appreciate you having a look at my post on Rhodiola.  Thank you for your interest.

      Yes, Rhodiola is good for physical endurance.  Who knew, right?

      You are very smart to be concerned about supplement quality Steve.  It can be hard to find effective products made by ethical manufacturers.  Lots of companies out there just want to make a quick buck.

      Mind Lab Pro is the best nootropic supplement I have ever tried.  I take it every day, actually.  It’s my chosen ‘go to’ nootropic stack.

      You can order Mind Lab Pro by clicking on the picture of the product in my article.  There’s a link that will take you directly to their website.

      No fuss.  No muss.

      If you do try Mind Lab Pro, write another comment and let me know what you think.  I’d really like to hear your feedback.

      Stay safe!



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