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Rhodiola Rosea: Evolving Uses of Rhodiola Rosea

Even in today's advanced society, we've found ways to use this versatile plant
By Steven Foster
February/March 2002
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 In western European traditions, the root has been used as a folk remedy for its calmative, refreshing, coolant, antiscorbutic, and fever-reducing effects. A number of recent studies have focused on potential anticancer activity, prevention of stress- induced cardiac damage, anti-arrhythmia effect, liver regeneration following biopsy, improvement of learning and short-term memory, and others. In short, it is believed to be an adaptogen similar to ginseng.

Modern scientific research of the herb began in Russia in the 1960s and in 1969, it was recognized as an official medicine. It was included in the last pharmacopoeia produced by the Soviets, the 1987 11th edition of the National Pharmacopoeia of the USSR. It is also recognized as an official drug in the 1996 Russian Pharmacopoeia. A glycoside called salidroside (also known as rhodioloside or rhodosine) was identified as an active adaptogenic substance, along with rosavidin (reportedly responsible for stimulant action). Other compounds, such as rosarin, rosavin, and rosin, are also believed to be involved in the plant’s adaptogenic effects. Commercial products are usually standardized for their content of “salidrosides” and “rosavins,” according to researchers at the National Center for Natural Products Research at the University of Mississippi, who recently developed a method to detect all five of the above compounds at once.

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