Rhodiola Benefits and Side Effects

Rhodiola Benefits and Side Effects

Rhodiola is a plant which is increasing in popularity for its uses for a variety of conditions. Today we look at the benefits and side effects of rhodiola.

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Rhodiola Benefits

Rhodiola (also called Arctic root or golden root) is a plant that grows in high-altitude arctic regions of Europe and Asia. The root of the plant can be used to make herbal medicine.

Using rhodiola is growing in popularity for its uses for a variety of conditions. Below we have compiled the suggested benefits of rhodiola, culled from several prominent sources.

Dr. Oz

An expert on a recent episode of Dr. Oz described the benefits of rhodiola in the following manner:

“Rhodiola is great for people who get tired and depressed when they’re stressed. It boosts your central nervous system a little bit so it’s a nice anti-depressant. It also helps improve our clarity of thought so it improves our mental and our physical performance.”

Dr. Andrew Weil

Integrative medicine guru Andrew Weil, MD, discussed rhodiola in 2008. He noted that some Scandinavian countries use rhodiola to boost strength and vitality. He added that it is used in Russia as an aid for fatigue, poor attention, decreased memory, and decreased productivity.

A 2007 study is cited which showed some improvement in depression, along with a 2008 trial which showed some improvement in anxiety after 10 weeks of usage.


In a series of articles on rhodiola, Livestrong cites the possible benefits of using rhodiola as muscle recovery, improved memory, depression relief, anemia, heart disease, weight loss, improved immunity, and anti-cancer.

It is also stated that rhodiola extract may be used in combination with other herbs such as ashwagandha for additional benefits.

NYU Langone Medical Center

Rhodiola for fatigue and enhanced mental function are said to be backed by a “few double-blind studies involving a single proprietary product.” Other benefits listed are depression, general wellness, sports performance, and enhanced sex drive. “Very weak evidence” points to additional benefits of altitude sickness and as an aid to cancer chemotherapy by protecting the liver.


WebMD lists “insufficient evidence” for depression, fatigue, anxiety, athletic performance, heart disorders, high cholesterol, irregular heartbeat, cancer, aging, diabetes, hearing loss, tuberculosis, sexual problems, and increased energy.

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Summary of Rhodiola Benefits

If we compile the list above, we can come up with a consensus of all the possible benefits of rhodiola:

  • Aging
  • Altitude sickness
  • Anemia
  • Anxiety
  • Athletic Performance
  • Cancer & chemo therapy
  • Depression
  • Diabetes
  • Fatigue
  • General Wellness
  • Hearing Loss
  • Heart Disease
  • High Cholesterol
  • Improved immunity
  • Increased Energy
  • Irregular Heartbeat
  • Memory
  • Mental Function
  • Muscle Recovery
  • Sexual Problems
  • Strength
  • Tuberculosis
  • Vitality
  • Weight Loss

Rhodiola Dosage

  • Dr. Oz suggests 100mg twice a day, but not to be taken at night.
  • Dr. Weil suggests starting with 100mg daily for a week and increasing by 100mg every week, up to 400mg if necessary.
  • Livestrong suggests a daily dose of 200 to 600 milligrams
  • NYU Langone cited a variety of daily dosages used in various studies. They describe a “typical dosage” as 170 to 185mg daily.
  • WebMD states that rhodiola’s long-term safety is unknown, but usage is “possibly safe” for 6-10 weeks.

Rhodiola Side Effects

Very few side effects have been listed for rhodiola. Dr. Weil noted that the UCLA study found mild side effects which included dry mouth and dizziness.

Dr. Weil and Dr. Oz both suggest taking it early in the day because it may interfere with sleep.

NYU Langone writes, “There are no known or suspected safety risks with rhodiola, and in clinical trials, no severe adverse effects have been reported. However, comprehensive safety studies have not been performed. Safety in young children, pregnant or nursing women, or people with severe liver or kidney disease has not been established.”

Rhodiola should be avoided by:

  • Children
  • High blood pressure patients
  • Liver or Kidney disease sufferers
  • Pregnant or breastfeeding women

Google Trends History

The Google Trends graph below show interest in rhodiola over time. Interest appears to be fairly consistent with a very gradual increase starting in early 2011. A peak surge in interest occurred in February of 2005. Another similar surge occurred in April of 2014.

Bottom Line

Rhodiola is a herbal medication from from the root of the plant. There seems to be scientific evidence for many positive potential uses without negative side effects. However, children, pregnant/breastfeeding women, those with high blood pressure, and/or individuals with liver/kidney disease should avoid using rhodiola.

Your Rhodiola Reviews

Have you used rhodiola? Let us hear from you in the comments below.

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