Also known as ‘Golden Root’ or ‘Arctic Rose’, rhodiola rosea is a powerful adaptogen used historically to calm stress and anxiety, decrease fatigue and enhance mental acuity. In Traditional Chinese Medicine rhodiola is considered a qi-nourishing plant (enriching energy, or vital life force) with circulation-boosting abilities. It has also been used for centuries in Scandinavia and Russia, where it was given to Olympic athletes and even astronauts to support physical and mental performance.
Adaptogens are herbs that help re-regulate your HPA axis, or stress response system. The HPA axis combines the nervous and endocrine systems of the body to give you the energy and function to necessary to react to stress and stimulation, and to calm you when this is no longer necessary. Unfortunately, many of us today live in a semi-permanent state of overactivation that keeps our circulating cortisol levels chronically high. Over time, this causes the cortisol receptors on our cells to lose sensitivity, forcing the HPA axis to pump cortisol up even higher. Rhodiola restores the normal sensitivity of cortisol receptors, allowing you to better fight burnout and maintain concentration throughout the day.
By inhibiting elevated cortisol levels caused by either acute or chronic stress, rhodiola also helps prevent stress-induced mitochondrial dysfunction (mitochondria are the ‘engines’ of your cells). This mechanism underlies rhodiola’s longstanding use across cultures as a daily preventative against fatigue that enhances both physical endurance and mental stamina.
Rhodiola’s motivation and concentration-boosting effects are largely attributable to its ability to boost overall energy levels, especially under stressful conditions, but its biologically active compounds also directly promote focus and sustained attention by increasing levels of dopamine, noradrenalin, adrenalin, and serotonin in the brain. Rhodiola improves mood by heightening the transport of serotonin precursors tryptophan and 5-hydroxytryptophan into the brain and has been effectively used to prevent and treat depression. You can find rhodiola together with complementary nootropic herbs in Dharana Focus & Energy Brain Food.
Rhodiola promotes neuronal regeneration by protecting stem cells in the brain from toxins and oxidative stress. Rhodiola also protects neurons from the damaging effects of oxygen deprivation caused by impaired circulation to the brain.