Rhodiola rosea has been used to resist mental and physical fatigue since the time of the Vikings!
It’s also well known for providing stress protection at the same time, which makes it an herbal adaptogen.
But is rhodiola rosea a nootropic? If we look at current research in this area, does it qualify as a brain booster?
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 root 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.
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:
- 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?
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:
- Cerebrovascular Disease
- 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’.
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:
- Energy Booster – rhodiola acts as an ergogenic by stimulating the sympatho-adrenal-system(SAS), which accounts for the common experience of ‘feeling energized’.
- Adaptogen – rhodiola protects the body and the mind from stress factors, allowing it to prevent the premature death of brain cells.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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,
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