Rhodiola rosea is a plant that grows in cold regions and at high altitudes in Europe and Asia.

It’s known as an adaptogen, which means it causes a tiny amount of stress in your body that helps to “train” your body to better deal with any stress you encounter in the future.

Rhodiola’s benefits don’t end there, though. 

Recent research shows that it also helps you feel mentally sharper and happier and may boost your athletic performance, too.

In this article, you’ll learn everything you need to know about rhodiola rosea, including what it is, what its main benefits are, its optimal dose, possible side effects, and what the best form of rhodiola rosea is.


What Is Rhodiola Rosea?

Rhodiola rosea, also known as Golden Root or simply rhodiola, is a plant that grows in cold parts of the world, including the Arctic regions of Europe, Asia, and North America.

It’s known as an adaptogen, which is a substance that causes an imperceptible level of stress in the body and trains it to better handle future stresses—a process known in the scientific literature as hormesis.

The adaptogenic effects of rhodiola are likely ascribable to the rosavin or salidroside content, which is why most dietary supplements use a 3% and 1% rosavin/salidroside concentration of anywhere between 200-to-700 mg.

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Rhodiola Rosea Benefits

Rhodiola and Stress

Studies show that supplementing with rhodiola can help alleviate many common symptoms associated with chronic stress, including depression, anxiety, disturbed sleep, fatigue, and irritability.

For example, in one study conducted by scientists at the university of Surrey, participants who supplemented with 400 mg of rhodiola per day significantly reduced levels of anxiety, stress, anger, confusion, and depression after just 14 days of use. 

Rhodiola and Fatigue

Stress-related fatigue refers to the type of fatigue you experience when you work for long periods. It’s often characterized by symptoms such as muscle aches or weakness, moodiness, difficulty concentrating or making decisions, and feeling “burned out.” 

Several studies show that supplementing with rhodiola helps to reduce stress-related fatigue, with some research showing it markedly improves symptoms after just one week of use.

Rhodiola and Concentration

Often when people become stressed, they lose the ability to concentrate on mentally demanding tasks.

However, research shows that even among people who are particularly under the cosh, such as military cadets, university students, and physicians on night duty, rhodiola improves social and work output, cognitive processing, and visual acuity.

Rhodiola and Mood

Most studies that show rhodiola has a positive effect on fatigue and stress also show that it’s capable of improving mood and general well-being.

What’s more, some research also shows that rhodiola may boost mood in people with depression, and may make you feel happier even when your stress and fatigue levels are in check and you otherwise feel well.

Rhodiola and Physical Performance

Most studies that have looked at rhodiola’s effect on physical performance have found mixed results, which makes it difficult to say with any certainty whether rhodiola improves physical performance.

That said, the most recent research on rhodiola shows that it may improve physical performance in several meaningful ways.

For instance, in one study conducted by scientists at Samford University, 11 women who supplemented with 500 mg of rhodiola 3 times per day for 3 days improved Wingate performance (a cycle sprint test) by ~4-to-8.5%, making it at least as effective as caffeine. 

Another similarly designed study conducted by the same research group showed that supplementing with rhodiola increased bench press power, though it also decreased the number of reps participants could do in sets taken to failure when bench pressing.

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Rhodiola Rosea Dosage

There’s currently no established clinically effective dose of rhodiola rosea SHR-5 (SHR-5 refers to the 3% rosavins and 1% salidroside concentration, which is what most studies use and what’s commonly available).

That said, most studies find supplementing with ~50-to-700 mg is beneficial, with lower doses more commonly used in chronic studies (lasting 8 weeks or more), and higher doses more often used in acute studies.

Thus, here are some sensible recommendations:

  • If you want to take rhodiola as a daily supplement, take 100-to-200 mg per day.
  • If you plan to take rhodiola infrequently (only when you feel stressed, fatigued, or unfocused, for example), take 500-to-700 mg.

I tend not to recommend supplementing with the raw root of the plant rather than SHR-5 because it isn’t well studied, but if this is the method you’d prefer, take five-to-six grams per day with a meal.

Rhodiola Rosea Side Effects

Research shows that rhodiola interacts with the drug-metabolizing enzyme CYP2C9 in the liver and intestines, which may increase the toxic potential of drugs such as phenytoin and warfarin, even when you take small doses.

This aside, rhodiola doesn’t reliably produce side effects in humans.

That said, because of the nature of adaptogens, it’s possible that you may experience unforeseen side effects relating to fatigue and stress (anecdotally, some people report feeling more anxious after taking rhodiola, while at least one study found it increased fatigue). Everyone is different, so you’ll need to see how your body responds. 

If you’re concerned about how you might react to rhodiola, buy a small sample dose (perhaps two week’s worth of pills) and see how your body reacts.

What Is the Best Rhodiola Rosea Supplement?

As I explain in my fitness books for men and women, Bigger Leaner Stronger and Thinner Leaner Stronger, you don’t need supplements to get fit and healthy.

That said, if you want to supplement with rhodiola, you should buy it from a trusted source. That’s because it’s common for herbal supplements to be underdosed (they don’t contain as much of the active ingredients as they say on the label) and some can be contaminated with toxins like arsenic, mercury, lead, and cadmium.

If you’re looking for a safe source of rhodiola, check out Vitality, Legion’s 100% natural wellness supplement that balances hormones, increases energy levels, and reduces stress and fatigue.

Vitality is tested by third-party labs for heavy metals, microbes, allergens, and other contaminants to ensure it meets the strict purity standards set by the FDA.

It also contains 150 mg of rhodiola per serving, as well as three other ingredients designed to make you feel fitter, livelier, and healthier.

+ Scientific References