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Nutrient - Herbal focus on rhodiola

(Rhodiola rosea)

By Debbie Paddington Dip ION

Rhodiola rosea, also known as golden root, roseroot and Aaron's rodis a member of the Crassulaceae family. This perennial plant has a thick root and rhizome and yellow, fragrant flowers and grows in the sandy soil at high altitudes in Europe and Asia. The plant reaches a height of 30-76cm and is dioecious, which means is has separate female and male plants. 

The Greek physician Dioscorides (AD 40-90) first recorded this plant in De Materia Medica, renaming it from Rodia riza to Rhodiola rosea, which refers to the rose-like aroma of the freshly cut root. The Swedish naturalist Carl Linnaeus (1707-1778) documented use of Rhodiola rosea as an astringent to treat hernia, leucorrhoea, hysteria and headache. Rhodiola also has a strong traditional use in Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Russia and other European countries, where it is known as a stimulant and tonic herb, regarded as good for helping learning and memory, fatigue, poor physical endurance, nervous system disorders and infections. The plant has also been used as a haemostatic in Tibetan folk medicine and is drunk as a tea in many regions of the world. 

The herb Rhodiola rosea has a strong traditional use for the temporary relief of symptoms associated with stress and has been categorised as an adaptogen by Russian researchers due to its observed ability to increase resistance to a variety of chemical, biological and physical stressors. Rhodiola’s adaptogenic properties have been attributed primarily to its ability to influence activity and levels of monoamines, such as adrenalin, noradrenalin, dopamine and serotonin in the brain. Rhodiola contains a variety of active compounds, which are thought to be responsible for its properties, including rosavin, salidroside and other polyphenols. The presence of rosavin distinguishes the species Rhodiola rosea from other rhodiolas. 

Whether it’s family life, work, or constantly trying to juggle both, stress is something that can affect us all. An estimated 7.4 million people in the UK are suffering from stress and according to the Health and Safety Executive, stress is the second most commonly reported work-related illness. What causes stress for you may not be stressful for someone else. Some stress in our lives is actually healthy and enables us to be aware of potential threats or dangers, meet deadlines and can help us grow and develop. However, long-term, chronic stress can have very detrimental effects on our health, including depleting the body of nutrients, slowing down digestion, suppressing the immune system and having a negative effect on cardiovascular, liver, thyroid and kidney function. Typical symptoms related to stress include fatigue, anxiety, irritability, exhaustion, inability to concentrate, muscular aches and pain, weight problems and headaches.

Article References

1) http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/causdis/stress/scale.htm 2) Petkov VD, Yonkov D, Mosharoff A et al. Effects of alcohol aqueous extract from Rhodiola rosea L. roots on learning and memory. Acta Physiol Pharmacol Bulg. 1986;(12):3-16. 3) http://www.upmc.com/healthatoz/pages/healthlibrary.aspx?chunkiid=111798 4) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11410073

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