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Rhodiola Rosea Toxicity, Side Effects and Contraindications


In this next section we address Rhodiola Rosea toxicity, side-effects and contraindications. One of the most consistently impressive aspects of Rhodiola Rosea research involves its low toxicity and low occurrence of rhodiola side effects.

An argument often used when researchers encourage further studies on this adaptogen is that more people should be more enthusiastic about studying rhodiola benefits when this natural herbal remedy appears to come with so few down sides.

Rhodiola Rosea Toxicity, Side Effects, and Contraindications

R. rosea has a very low level of toxicity. In rat toxicity studies, the LD50 (lethal dose at which 50 percent of animals die) was calculated to be 28.6 ml/kg, approximately 3,360 mg/kg.25 The equivalent rhodiola dosage in a 70 kg man would be about 235 gm or 235,000 mg. Since the usual clinical doses are 200-600 mg/day, there is a huge margin of safety.87

Overall, Rhodiola rosea has very few side effects. Most users find that it improves their mood, energy level, and mental clarity. Some individuals, particularly those who tend to be anxious, may feel overly activated, jittery, or agitated. If this occurs, then a smaller dose with very gradual increases may be needed. R. rosea should be taken early in the day because it can interfere with sleep or cause vivid dreams (not nightmares) during the first few weeks. It is contraindicated in excited states.

Because R. rosea has an activating antidepressant effect, it should not be used in individuals with bipolar disorder who are vulnerable to becoming manic when given antidepressants or stimulants. Until this has been further studied, the authors advise caution in patients with bipolar spectrum disorders. The herb does not appear to interact with other medications, though it may have additive effects with other stimulants. It is best absorbed when taken on an empty stomach 30 minutes before breakfast and lunch. As with any herbal preparation, patients should inform their primary healthcare practitioner when taking R. rosea.

RhodiolaRosea.Org Editor Comments: To add some additional, useful detail:

Rhodiola rosea has been reported as safe in several subacute and acute toxicity studies, however another area of potential side-effects to consider are any related to how it causes effects by inhibiting subtypes A and B of the enzyme monoamine oxidase and effecting opioid peptides such as beta-endorphin. Among the theoretical effects this could cause include minor serotonin and dopamine depletion. However, no current study indicates a measured problem related to this chemistry.

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