Getting to Know Herbs: Rhodiola
Rhodiola is a perennial flowering plant that grows naturally in northern climates. It has a long history of use in traditional Western herbalism for it's adaptogenic activity, promoting better use of energy, both physically and mentally. Used to relieve the symptoms of stress, anxiety, depression and intellectual fatigue. Flowers are either male or female on one plant and both are required to produce seeds.
Photo by @krnel
The scientific botanical name is Rhodiola rosea. It's also commonly called golden root, rose root, roseroot, Aaron's rod, Arctic root, king's crown, lignum rhodium, orpin rose. Other names include Extrait de Rhodiole, Golden Root, Hongjingtian, Racine d'Or, Racine Dorée, Racine de Rhadiola, Rhodiola rosea, Rhodiole, Rhodiole Rougeâtre, Rodia Riza, Rose Root Extract, Rosenroot, Roseroot, Rosewort, Sedum rhodiola, Sedum rosea, Siberian Golden Root, Siberian Rhodiola Rosea, Snowdown Rose.
peganum/wikimedia - CC BY-SA 2.0
- northern climate flowering plant
- fully edible, but bitter taste
- medicinally used to promote mental and physical energy, relieve anxiety and stress
North Amerindians have eaten this plant as a fermented dish. The root has been used in traditional European medicine for over 3 thousand years. Long used in Russia and Scandinavia to cope with cold climate and stressful life.
Where is it found?
Growing in cold regions of the world, it can be found natively around the Arctic, the mountains of Central Asia, in the mountains of Europe and scattered around the eastern parts of North America. Also known as a stonecrop, it grows on sea cliffs and mountains at high altitude.
What's it used for?
Young leaves and shoots can be eaten raw or cooked like spinach. They have an unpleasant bitter taste if eaten alone, best used in a salad mix or other dish like stir fry, soup, etc. It can even be made into a sauerkraut. Stems can be cooked and eaten like asparagus. Root can be eaten raw or cooked as well.
Common medicinal uses are to increase energy, endurance, strength, and mental capacity. Used as an adaptogen to help the body adapt and resist psychological, physical, chemical and environmental stress.
It manages stress by regulating hormonal responses, and improves neurotransmitter activity and preventing their decline caused by stress hormone release. It has a proactive effect on neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine. It can enhance physical endurance and sexual potency.
The flowers have been used to treat stomach aches, intestinal discomfort and tuberculosis.
Are there any risks?
Rhodiola might stimulate the immune system. Those with autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis (MS) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) should avoid. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding might want to avoid, as it's not known how the plant might affect them.
Diabetics should also be careful, as rhodiola might reduce blood sugar levels. It might also lower blood pressure, so be careful if you have blood pressure issues.
Taken orally on the short term it's safe. Twice daily doses for 4-6 weeks are safe. Long-term use is not known. Rhodiola may cause dizziness, dry mouth or increase saliva production.
Previous posts on Getting to Know Herbs:
Canadian Goldenrod | German Chamomile | Blue Vervain | Blessed or Holy Thistle | Common Horehound | Cayenne | Ashwagandha | Gotu Kola | Common Verbana/Vervain | Holy Basil | Sweet Annie | Globe Artichoke | Butterfly Weed / Pleurisy Root | Joe-Pye Weed / Gravel Root | Valerian | Malva/Mallow | Boneset | Elecampane | Lungwort | Cramp Bark | Motherwort | Common Plantain | Eleuthero (Siberian ginseng) | Black Cohosh | Common Bearberry | Mahonia Mountain Grape (Oregon Grape) | Blue Cohosh | Goldenseal
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