Rhodiola Rosea In Modern Medicine

With this part of our reformatting of the Rhodiola Rosea Phytomedicinal Overview we move into the present and start peering into the future. How will the use of Rhodiola rosea in modern medicine influence our understanding of this potentially potent adaptogen? Will science prove the many Rhodiola benefits to be legitimate?

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This part begins with Russia’s early adoption of official use of Rhodiola Rosea and then moves to the studies and discoveries made in Europe which brought the hopeful use of R. rosea for natural stress relief to the rest of the west.


Rhodiola Rosea In Modern Medicine

Since 1969, R. rosea has been included in official Russian medicine. The Pharmacological and Pharmacopoeia Committee of the Soviet Ministry of Health recommended medicinal use and industrial production of liquid R. rosea extract. In 1975, the Soviet Ministry of Health approved and registered preparation No. 75/933/14 as a medicine and tonic, allowing large-scale production under the name Rhodiola Extract Liquid, an alcohol-based extract (40 percent ethyl alcohol). Medical and pharmacological texts describe its use as a stimulant for asthenia (fatigue), for somatic and infectious illnesses, in psychiatric and neurological conditions, and in healthy individuals to relieve fatigue and to increase attention span, memory, and work productivity. The common dose is 5-10 drops 2-3 times a day, 15-30 minutes before eating for a period of 10-20 days. In psychiatric disorders with fatigue, a starting dose of 10 drops 2-3 times a day is gradually increased up to 30-40 drops for 1-2 months.

Possible Actions of Rhodiola Rosea

In Sweden, R. rosea was recognized as an Herbal Medicinal Product in 1985 and has been described as an antifatigue agent in the Textbook of Phytomedicine for Pharmacists.9 In the textbook of pharmacology for dispenser training in Sweden, R. rosea is mentioned as a plant with a stimulant action. Also, the Pharmaceutical Book (Lakemedelsboken 97/98) mentions R. rosea as one of the most commonly used psychostimulants in the group of officially registered herbal medicinal products.11 In Denmark, R. rosea is registered as a medical product in the category of botanical drugs. Registered preparations are extensively used in Sweden and other Scandinavian countries to increase mental work capacity during stress, as a psychostimulant, and as a general strengthener.

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Rhodiola Rosea Pharmacological Studies

The traditional use of R. rosea as a tonic in Siberian and Russian medicine stimulated extensive research leading to identification of R. rosea as an adaptogen — a substance that non-specifically increases the resistance of an organism and does not disturb normal biological parameters. Studies in cell cultures, animals, and humans have revealed antifatigue, anti-stress, antihypoxic (protection against damaging effects of oxygen deprivation), anticancer, antioxidant, immune enhancing and sexual stimulating effects.2,18,24,38-40 Since the Russian and Bulgarian literature is so extensive, this discussion will highlight seminal studies and major reviews. The authors were fortunate to gain access to original reviews, articles, and doctoral theses. This overview relies heavily on monographs and peer-reviewed publications. The research data contained in these documents are helpful for understanding recent human studies in normal and pathological conditions.


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Next Section: Rhodiola Rosea Pharmacological Studies and Clinical Case Studies
Table of Contents: Rhodiola Rosea: A Phytomedicinal Overview
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