Fresh Clips: Rhodiola Root and Less Stress

Beneath rhodiola’s sunny blooms are stress-busting herbal roots.

| April/May 2009

  • Beneath rhodiola’s sunny blooms are stress-busting herbal roots.

If you suffer from “burn-out”— weakness, depressed mood, poor concentration, insomnia, lethargy—here’s something to chew on. A new Swedish study suggests rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea), also known as Arctic root, can be very effective for combating stress-related fatigue, commonly known as burn-out.

In the placebo-controlled clinical study, 60 subjects with stress-related fatigue received either four tablets (576 mg) daily of the rhodiola root extract or four placebo tablets. After 28 days, subjects were evaluated for quality of life, fatigue, depression and attention. In addition, the subjects’ saliva was tested for cortisol levels on the first and 28th days of treatment. Cortisol, a stress hormone, increases in response to stress.

Although subjects in both the rhodiola and placebo groups showed improvement in several areas, including quality of life, the rhodiola group had a much greater reduction of fatigue; was better able to focus attention; and made fewer errors. Perhaps most telling, saliva cortisol was substantially lower in the rhodiola group than in the placebo group at the end of the trial. The authors conclude that rhodiola “exerts an anti-fatigue effect that increases mental performance, particularly the ability to concentrate.”

Rhodiola, a plant found in cold, subarctic regions, has been studied for its ability to help the body and mind adapt to stress. Research on rhodiola and similar herbs, known as “adaptogens,” began in the former Soviet Union; more recently, Scandinavian researchers have focused on the herb. The authors of the new study acknowledge funding from the Swedish Herbal Institute, purveyors of a rhodiola root extract.

For more information, see Planta Medica Nov. 18, 2008 (published online).

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