Rhodiola ( Rhodiola rosea ) is a plant of the Crassulaceae family; 5 to 35 cm tall, it has flattened leaves with jagged edges and yellow, orange or red flowers. Initially developed on rocky, cold and dry soils, it grows spontaneously in Siberia, Scandinavia, Alaska and Lapland, but it can also be found in numerous mountainous habitats: it grows in fact at high altitudes, above 3000 m.
Rhodiola is known above all for its adaptogenic qualities and for its action on the brain, due to the presence of salidroside and rosavidine, two aromatic glycosides with a chemical structure similar to that of eleutherococcus, the famous Siberian ginseng. These molecules have the ability to greatly promote learning and memory .
It is also able to:
- increase the concentration of endorphins in the blood, molecules active in the control of mood and stress ;
- counteract anxiety and nervousness;
- improve sleep quality;
- stimulate some enzymes, called lipases, capable of accelerating the release of fats contained in the storage tissues to produce energy, thus also exerting a slimming action;
- increase the levels of serotonin in the central nervous system; serotonin is a hormone capable of removing the obsessive craving for carbohydrates and has a sedative and anti-anxiety action, greatly reducing anxious hunger ;
- act as a stimulant on the female and male hormonal system : in the first it is indicated in case of amenorrhea; in the second, it promotes functionality and sexual performance in 70% of men suffering from erectile dysfunction or premature ejaculation. In Siberia, rhodiola is not by chance recommended as an aphrodisiac;
- increase the body's resistance to a wide range of aggression factors, both chemical, physical and biological. Therefore it appears to be a valid support for strengthening the immune defenses.
Who is Rhodiola recommended for?
- To those who are anxious in nature or are stressed by countless everyday problems.
- To those who have difficulty in sustaining the rhythm of modern life (malaise, chronic fatigue ...).
- To people who face a difficult family, social or professional situation.
- To those who face intense physical stress.
- To those who, continuously subjected to anxiety or stress, find their immune defenses weakened.
Rhodiola: between myth and legend
Rhodiola is a plant that, contrary to current beliefs, was already known in ancient times. Jason and the Golden Fleece , for example, is one of the most famous myths of ancient Greece and is also, perhaps, proof that the virtues of this plant were already known in the thirteenth century BC According to legend, the hero Jason he was sent to the city of Colchis by his uncle, who promised him the throne of Iolco if he could get the Golden Fleece, the skin of a legendary ram guarded by a dragon. After many trials, Jason came to King Aetas, the owner of the fleece. Medea, daughter of the king and powerful sorceress, offered Jason a potion that allowed him to kill the dragon. This extraordinary drink would have been made with a Caucasian flower which, according to the poet Gaius Valerio Flacco, would have been born from the shreds of Prometheus 's liver, scattered by the eagles who wrote his torture. For the great specialist Richard P. Brown, it would be the Rhodiola that Medea would have used to create the potion given to Jason.
Called in the areas of origin Rhosenrot , which means: “ golden root ”, the use of rhodiola has a legendary and troubled history at the same time. According to the testimonies, to improve their adaptation to high altitude, the ancient populations of Tibet integrated it in their diet, while the Siberians used it to increase resistance to low environmental temperatures.
Scientific evidence on the benefits of Rhodiola only reached public opinion in 1960, thanks to numerous clinical studies and scientific publications made by the Soviets. For decades much of these works remained classified as "state secrets", because this plant was considered a key element of programs to improve the physiological , psychological and intellectual performance of members of the Soviet elite: cosmonauts, high-level military and KGB officers.
In Ukraine it is said that Prince Danila Galitsky, whose amorous exploits continue to inflame the popular imagination, owed his power to the famous golden root. So much so that even today, in some countries such as Siberia, Rhodiola is offered to young spouses, so that they can give birth to healthy children.
A pilot study of rhodiola rosea (Rhodax) for generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). Bystritsky A. & al. Journal of alternative and complementary medicine, 2008, 14 (2), 175-180.
A double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study of stimulating and adaptogenic effect of rhodiola rosea SHR-5 extract on the fatigue of student caused by stress during examination period with a repeated low-dose regimen. Spasov AA, Wikman GK, Mandrikov VB, et al. Phytomedicine , 2000, 7, 85-89
The rhodiola revolution - Transform your health with the herbal breakthrough of the 21st century. Richard P. Brown, Patricia L. Gerbarg (2004, Ed. Rodale).
A randomized trial of two different doses of a SHR-5 rhodiola rosea extract versus placebo and control of capacity for mental work. Shevtsov VA et al.