America Adopts a Revered Russian Remedy

Discover the impressive benefits of rhodiola.

| January/February 2004


  • Henriette Kress, Helsinki, Finland
  • Rhodiola, which helps the body adapt to stress, is harvested solely from the wild. Research shows the herb also can combat fatigue.
    Henriette Kress, Helsinki, Finland
  • Rhodiola is native to dry, high-altitude regions of the Northern Hemisphere.
    Photo Courtesy of Rocky Mountain Rare Plants

 

High in alpine and arctic regions of the Northern Hemisphere grows an unassuming herb with some remarkable characteristics. Rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea), a plant adapted to the harsh and unforgiving climate of Siberia and similar regions, appears to have the ability to help the human body adapt to and defend against the debilitating effects of stress.

 

Rhodiola displays all the attributes of a classic adaptogen (a valuable tonic herb that strengthens the body’s nonspecific resistance to the effects of physical stress, such as that caused by overwork or extreme temperatures). Modern research, backed by centuries of traditional use, suggests rhodiola can help counteract stress-related fatigue, enhance stamina and work performance, and perhaps even boost mood and memory.



Too good to be true? Well, almost. While the health benefits seem promising, some experts are concerned that the new enthusiasm for rhodiola has taken a toll on the plant itself. The recent increase in demand for the herb, which is harvested solely from the wild, threatens to deplete wild plant populations — unless efforts to improve the sustainability of sources are stepped up soon.

 



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