Getting to Know Herbs: Rhodiola

in #gardening2 years ago (edited)

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

Key Points

  • 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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Loved reading this! We were at altitude last week and thought we saw this plant (similar but not rhodiola) This article was on point and great to read. Looking to get some established on our homestead now.

Thanks ;) I guess you live int he mountains where it's a good place for it ;)

Just curious, but for years they have pushed Viagra on men. Did you come across any comparisons to it in your research?

These aren't scientifically verified findings for the most part. I think by "sexual potency" it relates to the physical endurance/energy part ;)

Fabulous. @naturalmedicine posted on rhodiola some time ago, and it's great to see another post on this little known herb. I'll pop this one in the Discord too to add to the bank of knowledge we are building. Loving this series.

Thanks :)

Looks like a succulent. I don't recall seeing this plant. :-)

Yup it is a succulent. I didn't know what that meant, I though it just described the succulence of the edibility lol, so I didn't add that word in...

It seems that it is hard to acquire it because of its natural environment.

I live in the green area where it's native, but I think you could grow it elsewhere, it's just not native there maybe... ;)

Informative post.. nice

Is it really? How so? Maybe say a bit more on your comments..

Yes.. In India I have not seen these plants..

#krnel very informative post..
!! And I must say you are really working very hard for your mission of spreading knowledge.
After your post I gather some info on Rhodiola.
It can be used as adptogen to help body in adapting and resisting stress caused by environmental, physical and chemical reason

Keep writting :-) because of you we are learning so many new things :-)

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Many among us could use some.

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