For nearly a century now, rhodiola rosea depression studies have indicated that it helps relieve depression and regulate anxiety. Rhodiola rosea extract’s use as a supplement in Siberia and for Soviet soldiers helps explain why so many of these early studies originated in Soviet academies and universities.
But now the clinical support is appearing further west. Is using rhodiola rosea for depression a safe and effective idea?
Rhodiola Rosea Extract For Depression
A recent study in Sweden has found that Rhodiola Rosea Extract exhibits an anti-depressant effect in individuals who suffer from mild to moderate forms of depression.
The Nordic Journal of Psychiatry published the results of the first double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of rhodiola rosea extract in patients diagnosed with depression. This study indicates that the extract was significantly more effective in alleviating symptoms associated with depression than a placebo.
The Swedish Herbal Institute in Gotehnburg, Sweden managed this study using a proprietary extract called SHR-5 (sold as Arctic Root).
Eighty nine people diagnosed with mild to moderate depression, aged 18 to 70, participated in the clinical trial. All of these participants underwent formal psychiatric evaluations and met the criteria of clinical depression based on both the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HAMD: scores greater than or equal to 21) and the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI: scores greater than or equal to 13).
These two measurement systems are the most widely-used and recognized tools for categorizing levels of depression in psychiatry.
Each trial subject was randomly assigned to one of three separate groups. Group 1 was given two 170 mg tablets of Rhodiola rosea extract (SHR-5) once a day (340 mg/day). Group 2 was given two of these same tablets twice a day (680 mg/day). Group 3 was provided two placebo tablets once a day.
At the end of the trial all participants were assessed again using the BDI and HAMD scales. The researchers discovered that both groups who were given the extract exhibited reduced BDI & HAMD scores that were statistically significant.
BDI scores were reduced from 12.23 to 7.09 for the lower dose group and dropped 10.38 to 4.75 for the higher-dose group. HAMD scores declined from 24.52 to 15.97 in the lower-dose group and dropped from 23.79 to 16.72 in the higher-dose group.
No statistically measurable reductions occurred in either scale scores for the placebo group.
The study’s authors also looked at other effects of the rhodiola rosea treatment by asking participants about specific depression symptoms before and after the trial. They found that both groups given the extract experienced significant improvements in regards to insomnia, mood swings, and physical symptoms (such as pain & fatigue). Individuals in the group receiving the higher dose of the herbal extract also exhibited significant improvements in their self-esteem. Those participants given the placebo did not experience statistically significant improvements with any of these symptoms.
No adverse rhodiola side effects were measured or detected in either of the groups given the Rhodiola rosea extract. This is in contrast to all pharmaceutical anti-depressants and even other herbal alternatives such as the popular St. Johns Wort, which can produce photo-sensitivity and has been associated with herb-drug interactions. Such low rhodiola rosea side effects will likely compel researched to conduct further studies.
This recent rhodiola rosea depression study in Sweden corroborates the many clinical studies performed at leading Soviet universities and medical academies during the second half of the twentieth century. Soviet researchers concluded that Rhodiola Rosea was a much more powerful adaptogen than Siberian ginseng, Panax ginseng, Aralia and Schizandra.
Soviet officials were so convinced of the data produced by these studies that this extract was regularly administered to KGB agents in stressful conditions and to Soviet soldiers in rough climates. Rhodiola depression studies appear to support this decision.
How It Works
So why does it work? In part, because it is a basic, safe and mild stimulant that affords patients some of the similar benefits of caffeine without the over-stimulation, nervousness or sleeplessness (if taken in reasonable doses). But there are a couple of other theories as well.
Bulgarian researchers demonstrated that R. rosea extract stimulates the biosynthesis of the hormone epinephrine, norepinephrine and adrenocorticotropic hormone. Epinephrine and norepinephrine are essential to your sense of happiness, drive and confidence that you can get things done. They also demonstrated that it can exhibit a mild serotonin-regulating quality (though evidence is still unclear on this particular matter).
The extract also appears to lower and regulate cortisol production. Cortisol is a glucocorticoid that is crucial in the human response to infection, trauma, anxiety, exercise and dementia. Higher levels, however, may cause involution of the thymus, depression of the immune response, fat deposition, tissue damage and confusion.
Cortisol is also sometimes called the “stress hormone,” the hormone that often becomes out-of-balance when we experience strong feelings of stress and anxiety. By lowering and regulating cortisol production, rhodiola rosea extract re-balances this hormone and keeps stress at a relative minimum.
As always, I suggest you discuss depression with a professional before applying advice found on the Internet. For me, personally, I can attest to the benefits of rhodiola rosea as part of a healthy daily routine. It is one of the few supplements that have provided me with specific, verifiable results to my daily health.
As I learn about more recent rhodiola rosea depression studies or rhodiola rosea anxiety research, I will append and refine this reference on depression.
I hope this helps. Take care of yourself and thank you for visiting my site.