Siberian rhodiola rosea has a long history of use in Europe, Asia and Russia to increase endurance, stamina and alertness. The root of the plant is used for medicinal purposes. Rhodiola rosea is known as an adaptogen, a termed coined by Soviet physicians to describe a substance that helps the body respond to physiologic or psychological stress without the usual negative reactions. Rhodiola acts by enhancing neurotransmitters in the brain. Rhodiola rosea has few known side effects outside of the effects that it’s normally used for.
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Because rhodiola rosea is used to combat fatigue and increase alertness, insomnia can be a side effect of the drug. A study conducted by the Uppsala University in Sweden and reported in the February 2009 issue of “Planta Medica” studied 60 people with fatigue syndrome. The group taking rhodiola rosea for 28 days had significant improvement in mental alertness, ability to concentrate and less fatigue than those taking placebo. While this may be beneficial during the day, it could cause insomnia if taken in the evening or before bedtime.
Rhodiola rosea is a stimulant, and as such, can cause irritability and restlessness. Combining the drug with other types of stimulants such as caffeine may increase nervousness and jitteriness.
A University of California study reported in the March 2008 “Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine" investigated the effects of rhodiola rosea on generalized anxiety disorder. While found effective for treating this disorder, the herb also caused dizziness in some subjects.
The 2008 University of California study also reported dry mouth as one of the most common side effects in subjects taking 240 milligrams of rhodiola rosea for 10 weeks.
Dosage and Side Effects
The dose taken affects the type of side effects you experience from the drug. At lower doses, rhodiola rosea has a stimulating effect, while at higher doses, the drug has a sedating effect. The normal dose taken is between 200 and 600 milligrams of an extract that contains 3 percent rosavins and 0.8 to 1 percent salidroside, two of the active ingredients in the herbal preparation.