Your Total Guide To Adaptogens | Part 7 | Rhodiola Rosea

Your Total Guide To Adaptogens | Part 7 | Rhodiola Rosea

Rhodiola Rosea is an herb that grows in the cold, mountainous, arctic regions of Europe and Asia, and it can also be found in eastern north America, and its roots are considered adaptogens.

Rhodiola is also known as arctic root or golden root.

People in Russia and in Scandinavia used Arctic Root for centuries to treet infections, headaches and depression and for increased energy. Linneus, who began the botanical classification system in the west, describe this root as a medicinal herb in his 1755 book on medicinal herbs. It was used as a vegetable in those days, eaten either raw or cooked. In Asia, it has a much longer documented use,

Chinese and Himalayan Rhodiola root, or Hong Jing Tian, and Plateau Ginseng (not a ginseng), just like Arctic root, grows in some of the harshest environments in the world. It is used as an adaptogenic and  tonic herb. In China it was reviewed in the first Chinese herbal classic, The Shennong Ben Cao in the year 206 BC and it was described as a “life-prolonging, wisdom enhancing superior herb.” 

Rhodiola has also been used by Buddhist monks to enhance their spiritual powers, their powers of focus, as well as their physical endurance.

Rhodiola is an amazing herb for people who work hard and play hard, physically and mentally, and all types of Rhodiola has been shown to improve endurance and mental capacity and cognitive function.It improves the endurance of athletes, the focus of monks and the cognitive abilities of those who work with their intellect.

Rhodiola root may improve the body’s capacity to absorb and utilize oxygen, and like all adaptogens, it reduces oxidative stress, and reduces the body’s stress reactions.

Rhodiola Rosea has a quick effect on the body, and its effect are relatively long lasting. Its effects are simultaneous mental clarity and calming, so many people use Arctic Root in place of coffee.

So what can it treat?

  1. Increase Energy / reduce fatigue
  2. Reduce Anxiety
  3. Help With Depression
  4. Premature Ovarian Insufficiency
  5. Regulate Adrenal Function
  6. Treat Diabetes
  7. Improve Brain Health
  8. Help with ADHD
  9. Weight Loss
  10. Stress Management
  11. Fight Cancer
  12. Reduce Blood Pressure
  13. Stress related heart disease
  14. High cholesterol
  15. Irregular heartbeat
  16. Anti-aging
  17. Boost Immunity
  18. Treat altitude sickness
  19. Improving athletic performance
  20. Tuberculosis
  21. Hearing loss
  22. Sexual problems
  23. Anti-oxidant
  24. Anti-inflammatory

Wow, what an impressive list!

In Chinese Medicine Arctic root is classified under “Herbs That Clear Heat”

As you might suspect by now, here are some difference between the Arctic Root of Europe and the Arctic root of Asia, and the TCM classification that follow is for the Asian variety called Hong Jing Tian.

Arctic Root is:


It’s subjective Temperature is cold, and it goes to the Heart, Liver, Kidney, Spleen and Lung.

Use of arctic root may lower blood pressure by the pathway of the sympathetic vasomotor tone and interaction with the circulatory angiotensin system. The positive results from arctic root may be as a result of a direct vagal inhibition on the heart.

As an adaptogen Rhodiola rosea can improve both cardiovascular and cerebrovascular system functions, and its use in Chinese medicine extends to digestive health and tuberculosis. To get the maximim benefit from any herb it needs to be taken together with other herbs. This is done to increase bioavailability and to make the effect more specific and less broad. Sometime it creates a synergistic effect and other times it diffuses an unwanted effect. This is a science that takes years to learn. Since herbal medicine treats the human and not the illness, underlying factors of illness are also treated at the same time, using what is called an herbal formula.

As an example, of how to treat cardiovascular disease using herbs, Arctic Root can be blended with:

Salviae Miltiorrhizae , Chuanxiong, Crataegi, Notoginseng, Angelicae Sinensis, Astragalus.

To calm the mind, treat anxiety, depression and nourish Shen (spirit) you can mix Arctic root with herbs like:

Ginseng, Reishi, and Poria.

Other herbs can be added to this as well, those are just some good options.

One of the more popular uses for Arctic Root is to improve athletic performance, and for this purpose, add in:

Ginseng root and Gotu kola.

Cheng-Dean Shih, Daih-Huang Kuo, Chi-Wen Huang, Yu-Hua Gu, Fu-An Chen,
Autonomic nervous system mediates the cardiovascular effects of Rhodiola sacra radix in rats,
Journal of Ethnopharmacology,
Volume 119, Issue 2,
Pages 284-290,

Mizue Ohsugi, Wenzhe Fan, Koji Hase, Quanbo Xiong, Yasuhiro Tezuka, Katsuko Komatsu, Tsuneo Namba, Tomohiro Saitoh, Kenji Tazawa, Shigetoshi Kadota,
Active-oxygen scavenging activity of traditional nourishing-tonic herbal medicines and active constituents of Rhodiola sacra,
Journal of Ethnopharmacology,
Volume 67, Issue 1,
Pages 111-119,

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