Rhodiola Rosea: The Healing Herb
by Amanda Shea
Among the dry, cold climates of mountains and tundra, a valuable herb grows with yellow blossoms. Rhodiola rosea it is called, and also by other names like Golden Root and Arctic Root. This herb is native to Siberia, Norway, Iceland, Sweden and northwestern China. The healing benefits of Rhodiola have been known for many years and dates back to 77 A.D when Greek physician Dioscorides documented the herb. The Vikings would use the herb before battle to have more strength and endurance, and the Chinese went all the way to Siberia to collect this versatile herb for their medicinal use. The Inuits would use this herb to fight off the flu and tuberculosis. Used all around the world today, Rhodiola is commonly known for its adaptogen properties, by helping the body cope with all forms of stress. Rhodiola is a tonic, and a magnificent healer. Herbalists note its benefits for sexual function, immunity, cardiovascular health, the muscular system and the nervous system.
Being an adaptogen herb, Rhodiola is very helpful in times when the mind or body is under too much stress. The healing properties of this plant are within the root, which are compounds called rosavins. Rhodiola helps our body retain its normal balance, and studies have shown that Rhodiola decreases the chemicals in our body that results in stress. Rhodiola helps us overcome mental and physical fatigue. This herb is commonly used with vigorous workouts since it increases muscle recovery time, muscle protein and glycogen synthesis, RNA, and the enzymes that are important for working out. Athletes who use this herb experience more strength and endurance. Those who need to improve their memory, focus, learning abilities and logical thinking would benefit greatly with this herb. The best part is, Rhodiola can be used regularly for a long period of time with just a few week breaks in between. Rhodiola is non-toxic and there are no discoveries of this herb having adverse effects while taking medicinal drugs. Although, Rhodiola should be avoided for those who take stimulant drugs, have bipolar disorder or women who are breastfeeding or nursing. Rhodiola does not have any side-effects, but occasionally some might experience jitters, dry mouth or dizziness in high doses.
Those who are suffering with depression or anxiety may choose to take Rhodiola. Research shows that Rhodiola can increase mood and vitality. There have been studies relating to Rhodiola and the output of the neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain. Rhodiola can help increase serotonin precursors (5HTP, Tryptophan) and reduce the stress hormone, cortisol. All of these factors will help promote a positive mood and better mental balance. Those with unbalanced brain chemicals can experience anxiety, depression and fatigue. So wonder why so many individuals turn to all natural healing herbs such as Rhodiola to gain a healthier state of mind and body. With Rhodiola extract, people have experienced a lifted mood, less fatigue, better mental capabilities, better sleep and reduced stress.
Rhodiola also is known for its effects on the body’s immune system. The herb works by stimulating and maintaining the immune system’s proper balance, and increases the cells that ward off harmful pathogens. Because of its effects on the immunity, Rhodiola gives the body resistance to toxins and decreases cancerous tumor growth. In a Russian study, the effects of Rhodiola given to rats with cancerous tumors showed that the herb decreased tumor growth as much as 39%. Now why aren’t we using more of this wonderful herb when it comes to treating patients with cancer and other illnesses?
This herb isn’t some magical potion, but the benefits of Rhodiola are almost endless and I believe it is one of the most healing herbs out there. Rhodiola also is beneficial for the heart, weight loss, altitude sickness, blood sugar levels in diabetics, protecting the liver, thyroid function, adrenal function and improving sexual function in men and women. We are in times of stress as the world changes rapidly around us. Rhodiola –and among other healing herbs- can be included in our lifestyle. With Rhodiola, users don’t have to worry about experiencing common drug side effects such as digestive upset, sexual disorders, sleeplessness and mood problems. We don’t always have to reach for common drugs prescribed by doctors when nature already provides us with its medicine.
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Chevallier, Andrew, and David Keifer. “Golden Root, Arctic Root.” Herbal Remedies. New York: DK Pub., 2007. 186. Print.
Short Bio: My name is Amanda Shea and I live in Bradenton, Florida, and graduated from Zephyrhills High School. I am currently studying herbalism with Demetria Clark’s Heart of Herbs online school. I have a passion for living a healthy vegan lifestyle, spending time with family and immersing myself in music. I’ve always loved and appreciated nature but ever since I’ve been learning about healing herbs I’ve only appreciated it more. Having the knowledge of herbs motivated me to grow my own herbal garden and apply them in my daily life. One day soon I hope to have a career in herbalism and open up my own practice. I would feel so blessed having the opportunity to heal others with Earth’s greatest gifts from nature.
Want to become an Herbalist or Aromatherapist? Visit www.heartofherbs.com
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