Mental health benefits of rhodiola rosea
Life has its ups and its downs, and no one is immune from the mental effects of challenging times. Fortunately, whether you’re feeling down, anxious, or just wish to maintain a steady mood, natural solutions do exist. Getting adequate sleep and a balanced diet are fundamental, and exercise also offers dramatic results. Meditation, another stress-relieving and mind-balancing tool, can hone focus and may even slow age-related thinning of the frontal cortex. Additionally, some plants and herbs, like Rhodiola rosea, offer bioactive chemicals that support the nutritional charge for mental vitality.
A perennial, therapeutic plant commonly referred to as “golden root”, Rhodiola rosea has long been associated with a slew of physical and mental health benefits. While public awareness of Rhodiola rosea is largely very quiet, an increasing subset of people in natural health circles are becoming more aware of this extremely beneficial plant. Thanks to increased scientific scrutiny, traditional herbalists are receiving confirmation of Rhodiola rosea’s remarkable benefits for human health.
Traditional Chinese medicine and Canadian Inuit tribes have long applied Rhodiola for a variety of health-promoting purposes. Recent research is beginning to validate these uses, noting the root’s potent flavonoid, glycoside, and proanthocyanidin content. These natural chemical constituents have been shown to provide powerful neuroprotective and anti-aging effects, making Rhodiola a highly favored herb for mental health.
Mental Health Benefits of Rhodiola Rosea
Many of these top benefits of Rhodiola rosea have been known for centuries by natural healers. Despite this age-old knowledge, it is only now that modern science has begun verifying its many healing applications.
1. Mood Disorders
Research has continuously shown that Rhodiola rosea contains powerful mood-boosting and emotional-stabilizing properties for persons with mood disorders. The compound also shows no major side effects, an aspect that conventional antidepressants can’t claim. A review of studies found Rhodiola rosea produced a statistically significant improvement in mood compared to placebo. Mental and physical fatigue, a common indication of down mood, may also be alleviated with Rhodiola rosea supplementation. According to a Swedish study, Rhodiola rosea reduced fatigue, promoted mental performance, and reduced stress hormones.
2. Promotes Positive Response to Stress and Anxiety
In today’s fast-paced world, stress is practically unavoidable. The key to protecting yourself from its health-deteriorating effects is to find effective ways of managing it so it doesn’t get out of control. Exercise is probably your best defense against stress. Herbs like Rhodiola rosea may also provide support. One clinical study found that Rhodiola decreased indications of stress without side effects. The study authors concluded that Rhodiola is a great option for those seeking natural stress-management. A recent animal study found that Rhodiola rosea significantly affected mental and emotional anxiety in times of stress.
3. Supports Neurological Function
The anti-aging market is generally made up of creams, tinctures, and serums, all promising protective and anti-aging effects for the skin. While topical application has its place in decreasing the visible signs of aging, the nutrients we consume also play a significant role in keeping our body and mind young and vibrant. Antioxidants are perhaps the most powerful anti-aging compounds known to man, helping to protect against skin degradation and age-related diseases. Rhodiola rosea contains salidroside, which has demonstrated potent antioxidant potential. Antioxidants combat oxidative damage exerted on cells by free radicals, helping to fight the incidence of age-related disease. Rhodiola rosea has also shown promise in promoting brain health as rosin, Rhodiola rosea’s active compound, has been shown to protect against neurotoxicity.
4. Encourages a Balanced Mood
To put it simply, the available data suggests that Rhodiola rosea can help support a balanced, uplifted mood. In 2008, researchers at UCLA confirmed that Rhodiola is one of several herbs with the ability to subdue anxiety. A fairly recent, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study evaluated Rhodiola rosea on mood imbalance and found it not only led to improvements in mood, but it also seemed to positively affect sleep quality. These results have been noticed by many, and some have even suggested that Rhodiola may have potential to psychiatric drugs.
5. Supports a Healthy Stress Response
Do you ever feel stressed? If so, you may want to review the results of this 2010 study, one that pitted stress against the supportive effects of Rhodiola rosea: Study participants who had complained of stress-related symptoms noted improvement within days of beginning a Rhodiola rosea supplementation regimen. Progress continued throughout the duration of the study and no serious side effects were reported.
6. Mental Performance
Mental fatigue makes it difficult to focus, causing personal achievements and success to dwindle. The good news is that clinical trials show that Rhodiola rosea stimulates the central nervous system to fight the fatigue that so often stifles mental clarity. Additionally, using animal models, research conducted by Chinese scientists suggests that Rhodiola rosea supplementation supports the brain by simultaneously saving injured neurons, thus encouraging the growth and development of brain cells.
7. Does Rhodiola Alter Perception?
Perhaps one of the most interesting qualities of Rhodiola rosea is that it appears to alter perception, even to the point of impacting physical performance. While this sounds like a bad thing, it can actually pose positive benefits for human health. Research conducted by Gettysburg College found that persons who supplemented with Rhodiola rosea were able to complete strenuous exercises with less effort than when they had not taken the supplement. The effect was believed to be caused by an alteration of the participants’ perception on their individual effort.
8. Nutritional Support for Parkinson’s Disease?
While Rhodiola is by no means a cure for Parkinson’s disease, Rhodiola rosea has grabbed the attention of those interested in supportive therapies for the disorder. Researchers at the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences evaluated a multi-herb preparation that included Rhodiola rosea and reported that — following supplementation — antioxidant levels, immune function, and hormone levels were in normal proportions. Despite the research being preliminary, the finding is certainly an exciting and positive step for the potential future management of Parkinson’s disease.
Whether you’re experiencing brain fog, suffering from stress, or just wish to sharpen your focus, it’s clear that Rhodiola rosea is an herbal remedy you may want to consider. The research shows it’s an effective adaptogen with a track record of supporting cognitive outlets and mood.
Rhodiola is gaining traction in the research field and is becoming readily available as a supplement in most natural supermarkets and vitamin stores. When finding a supplement that contains Rhodiola rosea, make sure the herb comes from a quality, organic source.
It’s important to remember, however, that mental health problems shouldn’t be self diagnosed. If you believe you’re clinically depressed or otherwise severely imbalanced, it’s best to seek out a trusted health care advisor. Never stop taking any prescribed medications without first talking to your prescribing physician.
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