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Rhodiola - The Adaptogen

by Khyati Kapur

Rhodiola - The Adaptogen

Rhodiola is a powerful adaptogenic herb that enhances your body’s 

ability to adapt against stress. If you’ve lately felt any sort of stress, mental fatigue, or difficulty concentrating, you could greatly benefit from the Rhodiola herb.

Nowadays there are many supplements on the market claiming to help ease your stress levels. While some of them may help, many aren’t backed by sufficient research and could lack the potency needed in specifically targeting stress in the body. 

So what can you do to effectively combat stress? Let’s take a closer look at the Rhodiola herb, one that’s been backed by decades of research.

What exactly is Rhodiola? 

Rhodiola is a medicinal herb and perennial flowering plant that mainly grows in the northern hemisphere. There are over 100 documented species of Rhodiola worldwide and of those species, Rhodiola rosea and Rhodiola crenulata are the two most frequently used as medicinal herbs.

Rhodiola extracts have been used for generations in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and eastern folk medicine. This past century, research on the health benefits of Rhodiola was extensively studied by former-Soviet scientists to examine its stress-modulating and energy-boosting effects, especially in soldiers and athletes.

So why is Rhodiola classified as an adaptogen?

The term “adaptogen” has numerous definitions that have been refined over the past century, but a few key characteristics have been established [1]:

(1)  It helps the human body resist stress of various kinds of stressors and reduce harm caused by stress

(2)  It promotes positive excitatory effects and homeostasis (meaning that it directly influences the HPA-axis)

(3)  And it must not harm the human body in safe doses

How would Rhodiola function in the human body as an adaptogen? 

Under stress, your body releases cortisol and adrenaline as part of its response to a perceived threat. This can lead to your muscles tensing up, heart beating faster, and increased blood pressure.

One of the main things Rhodiola does is help modulate the HPA-axis by regulating stress hormone levels, or lowering and raising them to more stable levels in the human body [2]. 

So how can something as simple as a little stress lead to disease?

The problem is not just “a little stress,” but when you’ve been stressed out for long periods of time (think weeks, months and years). Chronic, long-term stress can disrupt the HPA axis, alter the delicate balance between the gut-brain axis, and even compromise intestinal integrity, leading to “leaky gut.” These conditions can then lead to chronic inflammation that negatively affects your entire body if left unchecked.

So what can Rhodiola do for my stress?

Health Benefits of Rhodiola

Rhodiola not only helps your body adapt and resist stress, but this unique herb also provides several health benefits that can even improve your brain health! Since Rhodiola is known to enhance brain function, making it an effective nootropic. Here are some ways Rhodiola acts as a nootropic [3]:

  • Cognitive benefits, such as maintaining peak cognitive performance in stressful situations, increasing energy levels, and reducing mental fatigue. This means that your body can still think sharp and clearly, even while under stress. If you’re suffering from adrenal fatigue, compounds found in Rhodiola could potentially help reduce some of the symptoms.
  • Neuroprotective effects, where Rhodiola exhibits antioxidant properties by extending cell life and protects against neurodegenerative diseases. Its ability to halt damage to cellular mitochondria makes it ideal as an adjunct treatment for Parkinson’s. 
  • Mood enhancing effects, where Rhodiola has been found to decrease levels of depression and anxiety, and improve overall mood. It does this by regulating levels of serotonin, dopamine, acetylcholine, and norepinephrine, all of which are very important neurotransmitters for optimal brain health.

So what exactly does Rhodiola have that makes it so powerful?

Rosavins and salidrosides are two key phytochemical compounds that were discovered in Rhodiola that give this herb its incredible health benefits for the brain. R. rosea typically has both rosavins and salidrosides while R. crenulata lacks rosavins but has more salidrosides than R. rosea. Of the two compounds, salidrosides appear to be more beneficial, since they’ve been found to promote activity of antioxidant enzymes and minimize oxidative stress after intense exercise [4]. Salidrosides are also the molecules found in Rhodiola that especially promote the improvements in mood, cognition, and neuroprotection, and are active at smaller concentrations compared to rosavins [5].

Besides promoting brain health and function, Rhodiola extract has also been shown to enhance immune function, serve as an antimicrobial, and even exhibit anti-tumor activity [6].

Okay, where can I sign up to take some Rhodiola?

We have specially designed a coffee product that features Rhodiola crenulata. Check it out here!

So after reading this article, you may be thinking whether stress is something that’s always bad for us. 

The stress response, or “fight or flight,” is a mechanism in our bodies that throughout thousands of years has been designed to help humanity survive danger. Our ancestors would either fight or flee from a danger that they faced, and then that stress would usually subside.

Now in our modernized world, we’re stressed out but there’s usually nothing that actually puts us in danger. This is a huge problem because chronic stress contributes to inflammation on a cellular level, and it’s this inflammation that your body produces over a long period of time that can lead to various autoimmune diseases, neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, and even cancer [7]. An imbalance in the stress response is also what can ultimately lead to conditions like adrenal fatigue and adrenal disease.

What can you do to mitigate this stress then?

Some solutions to the stress

Putting into practice a healthy lifestyle that emphasizes whole, plant-based food, consistent exercise, and getting enough sleep will do wonders for your stress.

Meditation is also one powerful way to lessen stress levels.

And finally, try out Seva Soul’s Neurovana Nootropic Coffee, which was carefully researched and designed with powerful, all-natural ingredients that work synergistically together to help with stress and increase concentration. It features Rhodiola and Indian Dried Spray Coffee, along with other important nootropics including Lion’s Mane, Chaga, and Mct oil powder, all of which play a vital role in brain health.

PLEASE NOTE that this article is not in lieu of medical advice from your doctor. All content found on this website, including articles, text, images, audio, videos, or other formats were created for informational purposes only.  This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

Khyati Kapur
Khyati Kapur