This winter root has been used for centuries in the traditional medicines of Scandinavia and other northern Eurasian countries. It is written than vikings used rhodiola to enhance endurance and reduce fatigue during hard weather. In more recent history, rhodiola has been used in low doses all winter long to reduce infections.
In addition to increasing overall resistance to infections (the definition of an adaptogen), rhodiola also increases mental and physical performance and endurance, reduces fatigue
(even in people with diseases of chronic pain such as fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis), increases concentration, and significantly decreases mild depression, anxiety and insomnia
If you have days where you seem to be missing that “omph” or motivation, trying out low dose rhodiola might help you get through this winter without the lulls in mood and energy levels. Rhodiola works especially well if you have had any history of weight gain in a short time in which your mental health also suffered, depression and chronic fatigue.
When searching for a rhodiola supplement, look for the active ingredients rosavin or salidroside. Be sure they are standardized to 2-3% and 0.8-1% respectively. We currently do not know all of the active ingredients in rhodiola, so make sure you are getting the whole herb. The standardized percentages of the active ingredients given are the amount found naturally in rhodiola. If you find a supplement where these percentages are different, the herb has been tampered with in some way.
In this article I have referred to “low dose” usage, meaning 100 to 150 mg per day. When taking rhodiola for the first time, start with this low dose for one to two weeks to determine how you respond. Clinical studies have used higher doses of rhodiola, from 300 to 680 mg per day to successfully treat specific problems. There were no adverse effects reported in the studies, but anecdotal evidence from the centuries of using this herb shows agitation and irritability can occur. If after one to two week, a low dose is not helping your mental and physical focus, work up to doses of 340 to 400 mg daily.