Rhodiola rosea

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Rhodiola rosea
Rhodiola rosea a2.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Core eudicots
Order: Saxifragales
Family: Crassulaceae
Genus: Rhodiola
Species: R. rosea
Binomial name
Rhodiola rosea

Sedum rosea (L.) Scop.
Sedum rhodiola DC.
Rhodiola arctica Boriss.
Rhodiola iremelica Boriss .
Rhodiola scopolii Simonk.
Sedum scopolii Simonk.
Золотой Корень, Solotoy Koren

Rhodiola rosea (commonly golden root, rose root, roseroot, western roseroot, Aaron's rod, arctic root, king's crown, lignum rhodium, orpin rose) is a perennial flowering plant in the family Crassulaceae. It grows in cold regions of the world, including much of the Arctic, the mountains of Central Asia, scattered in eastern North America from Baffin Island to the mountains of North Carolina, and mountainous parts of Europe, such as the Alps, Pyrenees, and Carpathian Mountains, Scandinavia, Iceland, Great Britain and Ireland. It grows on sea cliffs and on mountains[2] at altitudes up to 2280 meters.[where?][citation needed] Several shoots grow from the same thick root. Shoots may reach 5 to 35 cm in height. R. rosea is dioecious – having separate female and male plants.

Description and distribution[edit]

Rhodiola rosea is from 1 to 12 inches (2.5 to 30.5 cm) tall, fleshy, and has several stems growing from a short, scaly rootstock.[3] Flowers have 4 sepals and 4 petals, dark purple in color, about 18 inch (0.32 cm) long, and blooming from May to July.[3]

Rhodiola rosea in flower during the Spring U.K
A young Rhodiola rosea growing in a sunny border U.K
Rhodiola rosea sprouting new growth during the spring after winter dormancy in the U.K

In the Sierra Nevada range, it grows between 6,000 and 13,000 feet (1,800 and 4,000 m), and also occurs the White Mountains, Inyo Mountains, Klamath Mountains, and Warner Mountains in California, as well as in Alaska, Siberia, Colorado, and northeastern North America.[3]


The first time that R. rosea is described was from Dioscorides in De Materia Medica.



Some studies have found support for it having antidepressant effects.[4][5] It is not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to cure, treat, or prevent any disease. In fact, the FDA has forcibly removed some products containing R. rosea from the market due to disputed claims that it treats cancer, anxiety, influenza, the common cold, bacterial infections, and migraines.[6]

R. rosea may be effective for improving mood and alleviating depression. Pilot studies on human subjects[7][8][9] showed it improves physical and mental performance, and may reduce fatigue.

In Russia and Scandinavia, R. rosea has been used for centuries to cope with the cold Siberian climate and stressful life.[citation needed][10][11] Such effects were provided with evidence in laboratory models of stress using the nematode C. elegans,[12] and in rats in which Rhodiola effectively prevented stress-induced changes in appetite, physical activity, weight gain and the estrus cycle.[13]

The plant has been used in traditional Chinese medicine, where it is called hóng jǐng tiān (). The medicine can be used to prevent altitude sickness.[citation needed]

The aerial portion is consumed as food in some parts of the world, sometimes added to salads.[14]

Phytochemicals and potential health effects[edit]

Withering flower

Scientists have identified about 140 chemical compounds in the subterranean portions of R. rosea.[15] Rhodiola roots contain phenols, rosavin, rosin, rosarin, organic acids, terpenoids, phenolcarbonic acids and their derivatives, flavonoids, anthraquinones, and alkaloids.

The chemical composition of the essential oil from R. rosea root growing in different countries varies. For example, rosavin, rosarin and rosin at their highest concentration according to many tests can be found only in R. rosea of Russian origin; the main component of the essential oil from Rhodiola growing in Bulgaria are geraniol and myrtenol; in China the main components are geraniol and 1-octanol; and in India the main component is phenylethilic alcohol. Cinnamic alcohol was discovered only in the sample from Bulgaria.[16]

R. rosea contains a variety of compounds that may contribute to its effects,[17] including the class of rosavins that includes rosavin, rosarin, and rosin. Several studies have suggested that the most active components are likely to be rhodioloside and tyrosol,[18] with other components being inactive when administered alone, but showing synergistic effects when a fixed combination of rhodioloside, rosavin, rosarin and rosin was used.[19] Authentication, as well as potency, of R. rosea crude material and standardized extracts thereof are carried out with validated high-performance liquid chromatography analyses to verify the content of the marker constituents salidroside, rosarin, rosavin, rosin and rosiridin.[20]

Although rosavin, rosarin, rosin and salidroside (and sometimes p-tyrosol, rhodioniside, rhodiolin and rosiridin) are among suspected active ingredients of R. rosea, these compounds are mostly polyphenols. There is no evidence that these chemicals have any physiological effect in humans that could prevent or reduce risk of disease.[21]

Although these phytochemicals are typically mentioned as specific to Rhodiola extracts, there are many other constituent phenolic antioxidants, including proanthocyanidins, quercetin, gallic acid, chlorogenic acid and kaempferol.[22][23]

Dried R. rosea root

Animal tests have suggested a variety of beneficial effects for R. rosea extracts,[24] and there is some scientific evidence for its efficacy as a treatment for depression and fatigue [7][8][25][26] in humans.

Scientific evidence[edit]

R. rosea extract exerts an antifatigue effect that increases mental performance, particularly the ability to concentrate in healthy subjects[7][8][25] and burnout patients with fatigue syndrome.[26] Rhodiola significantly reduced symptoms of fatigue and improved attention after four weeks of repeated administration.[26] A 2007 clinical trial from Armenia showed significant effect for a Rhodiola extract in doses of 340–680 mg per day in male and female patients from 18 to 70 years old with mild to moderate depression. No side effects were demonstrated at these doses.[4] One study found inhibition of MAO-A and MAO-B.[27] Studies on whether Rhodiola improves physical performance have been inconclusive, with some studies showing some benefit,[28] while others show no significant difference.[29]

Two systematic reviews on R. rosea extracts concluded that the research evidence is contradictory, and definite conclusions over its efficacy to relieve mental and physical fatigue are hampered by the lack of rigorously-designed, well-controlled randomized control trials [30]

In clinical medical trials on people R. rosea extract has a positive effect on sensitive and fading skin improving overall skin condition.[31][full citation needed]

R. rosea promotes the release of nitric oxide from rat pineal corpus cavernosum smooth muscle cell and artery endothelium cell, which was correlated with its effect of resisting senility.[32] R. rosea extract has been found to increase the life span of fruit fly (Drosophila) by 24% independently of dietary restriction.[33]

R. rosea may enhance the detoxification of many toxic heavy metals.[34]


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  2. ^ Stace, C.A. (2010). New flora of the British isles (Third ed.). Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press. p. 138. ISBN 9780521707725. 
  3. ^ a b c Philip A. Munz (2003). Dianne Lake; Phyllis M. Faber, eds. Introduction to California Mountain Wildflowers. University of California Press. ISBN 0520236351. 
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  6. ^ See for example, Letter, dated April 21, 2005, Food and Drug Administration
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  10. ^ Azizov, AP; Seĭfulla, RD (May–Jun 1998). "[The effect of elton, leveton, fitoton and adapton on the work capacity of experimental animals].". Eksperimental'naia i klinicheskaia farmakologiia 61 (3): 61–3. PMID 9690082. 
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  14. ^ Saratikov A.S. (1974). Golden Root (Rhodiola Rosea) (2nd ed.). Publishing House of Tomsk University. p. 158. 
  15. ^ Panossian, A., Wikman, G. (2010). "Rosenroot (Roseroot): Traditional Use, Chemical Composition, Pharmacology, and Clinical Efficacy". Phytomedicine 17 (5-6): 481–493. doi:10.1016/j.phymed.2010.02.002. 
  16. ^ Evstavieva L., Todorova M., Antonova D., Staneva J. (2010). "Chemical composition of the essential oils of Rhodiola rosea L. of three different origins". Pharmacogn Mag. 6 (24): 256–258. 
  17. ^ Kucinskaite A, Briedis V, Savickas A (2004). "[Experimental analysis of therapeutic properties of Rhodiola rosea L. and its possible application in medicine]". Medicina (Kaunas) (in Lithuanian) 40 (7): 614–9. PMID 15252224. 
  18. ^ Mao Y, Li Y, Yao N (Nov 2007). "Simultaneous determination of salidroside and tyrosol in extracts of Rhodiola L. by microwave assisted extraction and high-performance liquid chromatography". J Pharm Biomed Anal 45 (3): 510–5. doi:10.1016/j.jpba.2007.05.031. PMID 17628386. 
  19. ^ Panossian A, Nikoyan N, Ohanyan N, et al. (Jan 2008). "Comparative study of Rhodiola preparations on behavioral despair of rats". Phytomedicine 15 (1–2): 84–91. doi:10.1016/j.phymed.2007.10.003. PMID 18054474. 
  20. ^ Ganzera M, Yayla Y, Khan IA (April 2001). "Analysis of the marker compounds of Rhodiola rosea L. (golden root) by reversed phase high performance liquid chromatography". Chem. Pharm. Bull. 49 (4): 465–7. doi:10.1248/cpb.49.465. PMID 11310675. 
  21. ^ Boudet AM (2007). "Evolution and current status of research in phenolic compounds". Phytochemistry 68 (22–24): 2722–35. doi:10.1016/j.phytochem.2007.06.012. PMID 17643453. 
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  29. ^ Walker TB, Altobelli SA, Caprihan A, Robergs RA (Aug 2007). "Failure of Rhodiola rosea to alter skeletal muscle phosphate kinetics in trained men". Metab Clin Exp. 56 (8): 1111–7. doi:10.1016/j.metabol.2007.04.004. PMID 17618958. 
  30. ^ Ishaque, Sana; Shamseer, Larrisa; Bukutu, Cecilia; Vohra, Sunita (October 1986). "Rhodiola rosea for physical and mental fatigue: a systematic review". BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 12 (1): 70. doi:10.1186/1472-6882-12-70. PMID 3541197. 
  31. ^ Diemant et al., 2008
  32. ^ Effect of Rodiola on level of NO and NOS in cultured rats penile corpus cavernosum smooth muscle cell and artery endothelium cell Kong X., Shi F., Chen Y., Lu H., Yao M., Hu M. Chinese Journal of Andrology 2007 21:10 (6-11)
  33. ^ Schriner, Samuel E.; Lee, Kevin; Truong, Stephanie; Salvadora, Kathyrn T.; Maler, Steven; Nam, Alexander; Lee, Thomas; Jafari, Mahtab; Englert, Christoph (21 May 2013). "Extension of Drosophila Lifespan by Rhodiola rosea through a Mechanism Independent from Dietary Restriction". PLoS ONE 8 (5): e63886. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0063886. 
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