Rhodiola Rosea Revelations

Rhodiola Rosea’s Endocrine and Reproductive Effects

In my effort to elucidate rhodiola effects and different potential benefits, I’m now publishing the next chapter of Rhodiola Rosea: A Phytomedicinal Overview. It covers a topic you won’t see discussed often on the natural health sites that discuss R. rosea.

The most prominent benefits of rhodiola involve how it helps our bodies respond better to physical and mental stress. However, when you look more closely at its effects on the endocrine system and the reproductive system, you see a whole new field of benefits worth further investigation.

Please note how many of these effects are not as verified and accepted as some other benefits discussed on this site, but the initial research is promising, especially considering the few side effects of rhodiola compared to most other medications.

For those of you coming to this site for the first time for the first time, this research was compiled and evaluated by Dr. Zakir Ramazanov, Dr. Richard Brown, and Dr. Patricia Gerbarg.

Rhodiola Rosea Endocrine and Reproductive Effects

Neuroendocrine animal studies showed that Rhodiola rosea, like other adaptogens, enhanced thyroid function without causing hyperthyroidism.81 In addition, the thymus gland functioned better and was protected from the involution that occurs with aging. The adrenal glands functioned with better reserve and without the kind of hypertrophy caused by other psychostimulants.

Egg maturation was enhanced in rats and an anabolic effect in males (increased muscle building and gonad strengthening similar to effects of low-dose testosterone) was observed in a number of species. Administration of rhodosin (extract of Rhodiola rosea for intravenous, intramuscular, or peritoneal injection) to sexually mature female mice over a period of 4 weeks prolonged menstruation from 1.3 days (control) to 2.8 days (rhodosin treated), reduced the resting period from 3.8 days (control) to 2.2 days (rhodosin treated), and increased the relative number of estrus days from 29 percent to 56 percent.

In the majority of rhodosin treated animals, the number of growing follicles, the oocyte volumes, the accumulation of RNA in oocyte cytoplasm, the proliferation of the lining and glandular cells of the uterine horns, and the preparation of uterine mucosa for fertilization all increased.

In sexually mature mice, rhodosin increased the mean weight of the uterine horns from 39.6+4.11 mg to 59.5+1.59 mg and the mean weight of the ovaries from 6.4+0.65 mg to 9.1+0.45 mg. However, the administration of rhodosin to sexually immature female white mice for 3 weeks did not affect sexual maturation, the onset of estrus, the weight of ovaries or uterine horns, or the maturation of follicles. Thus, it is probable that the estrogenic effects of Rhodiola rosea preparations depend upon a specific hormonal milieu.82,83

Human Studies and Observations

These pre-clinical investigations led to a study of Rhodiola rosea extract in women suffering from amenorrhea (loss of menstrual cycles). Forty women with amenorrhea were given Rhodiola rosea (either 100 mg Rhodiola rosea extract orally twice a day for 2 weeks, or 1 ml rhodosin intramuscularly for 10 days). In some subjects the treatment cycle was repeated 2-4 times. Normal menses were restored in 25 women, 11 of whom became pregnant. In those with normal menses, the mean length of the uterine cavity increased from 5.5 cm to 7.0 cm (normal) after Rhodiola rosea treatment.82,83

One of the authors (Dr. Brown) has treated in his practice several women who had failed to conceive with standard fertility drugs, and who became pregnant within several months of beginning Rhodiola rosea extract. These preliminary clinical observations warrant controlled follow-up clinical trials. Using the in vitro estrogen receptor competition assay, Patricia Eagon, Ph.D. (personal communication, December 2001) recently found that Rhodiola rosea extract showed strong estrogen binding properties that require further characterization.

In an open study, 26 out of 35 men with erectile dysfunction and/or premature ejaculation (of 1-20 years duration) responded to Rhodiola rosea (150-200 mg/day for 3 months) with substantially improved sexual function, normalization of prostatic fluid, and an increase in 17-ketosteroids in urine.56,69

Previous Section: Rhodiola Rosea’s Anti-Stress, Adaptogenic and Neuroendocrine Effects
Next Section: Rhodiola Rosea Cardioprotective Effects
Table of Contents: Rhodiola Rosea: A Phytomedicinal Overview
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