Purported Benefits, Side Effects & More


Purported Benefits, Side Effects & More

Common Names

  • Golden root
  • Rose root
  • Hong Jing Tian
  • Rose root extract
  • Rosenroot
  • SHR-5

For Patients & Caregivers

Tell your healthcare providers about any dietary supplements you’re taking, such as herbs, vitamins, minerals, and natural or home remedies. This will help them manage your care and keep you safe.

What is it?

Rhodiola is an herb used in traditional medicine in Eastern Europe and Asia. It also comes as tablets, capsules, and liquid extracts.

What are the potential uses and benefits?

Rhodiola is used to:

  • Manage stress
  • Manage fatigue (feeling very tired or having less energy than usual)
  • Improve endurance (your ability to do physical activity for a long time)
  • Treat depression

Rhodiola has other uses, but doctors have not studied them to see if they work.

Talk with your healthcare provider before taking rhodiola supplements. Herbal supplements are stronger than the herbs you would use in cooking. Supplements can also interact with some medications and affect how they work. For more information, read the “What else do I need to know?” section below.

What are the side effects?

Side effects of taking rhodiola may include:

  • Dizziness (feeling faint or lightheaded)
  • Dry mouth
What else do I need to know?
  • Talk to your healthcare provider if you’re taking a blood thinner, such as warfarin (Coumadin®, Jantoven®). Rhodiola can affect the way it works.
  • Talk to your doctor if you’re taking anti-seizure medications such as phenytoin (Dilantin®). Rhodiola may increase your risk of having side effects.

For Healthcare Professionals

Scientific Name
Rhodiola rosea
Clinical Summary

Rhodiola is a plant used in traditional medicine in Eastern Europe and Asia to enhance physical and mental performance, stimulate the nervous system, and reduce depressive symptoms. Although Rhodiola rosea extract and its key constituent salidroside have been researched, data in humans are limited.

In vitro studies suggest that salidroside may have neuroprotective (8) (9) and anticancer effects (10). Animal data suggest benefits with rhodiola on cognitive function, but most studies were determined to have a high risk of bias (24).

In humans, preliminary data suggest rhodiola supplementation may improve physical endurance (1) and mental performance (2) (3), and reduce fatigue (4) (5) and stress (19) (20). Other small studies suggest it may improve symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder (6) and mild to moderate depression (7). In one study, it was better tolerated and had fewer side effects than sertraline, although it was also less effective (22). A systematic review evaluating rhodiola trials determined that higher reporting quality and better methodological quality are needed (25).

In patients with breast cancer receiving epirubicin, a small study suggests that salidroside may have cardioprotective effects (11), but larger confirmatory studies are needed.

Purported Uses and Benefits
  • Stress
  • Fatigue
  • Endurance
  • Depression
Mechanism of Action

In vitro studies suggest that salidroside, a key constituent, confers neuroprotective effects via NO pathway inhibition (9), induces antioxidant enzymes thioredoxin, heme oxygenase-1, and peroxiredoxin-I; downregulates proapoptotic Bax protein; and upregulates antiapoptotic Bcl-XL proteins (8). Rhodiola constituents may also have synergistic antioxidant activity (17) and potential antidepressant effects may be due to inhibition of monoamine oxidases A and B (13). In human breast cancer cells, salidroside induced cell-cycle arrest and apoptosis via mechanisms as yet unidentified, but independent of the estrogen receptor (10).

In animal models, rhodiola exhibits dose- and time-dependent Th1 and Th2 cytokine modulation effects (16).

  • Patients taking prescription antidepressant medications should use rhodiola with caution as concurrent use was reported to cause tachyarrhythmia (18).
Adverse Reactions
  • Dizziness and dry mouth (6)

Case Report
Tachyarrhythmia: In a 26-year-old Chinese woman who presented to the emergency department with fast and irregular heartbeat following ingestion of rhodiola along with her antidepressant for 3 days (18).

Herb-Drug Interactions
  • CYP3A4 substrates: In preclinical studies, rhodiola inhibits CYP3A4 and can affect the intracellular concentration of drugs metabolized by this enzyme (12) (21). Clinical relevance is yet to be determined.
  • CYP2C9 substrates: Rhodiola modestly inhibits CYP2C9, and may affect drugs metabolized by this enzyme, particularly those with a narrow therapeutic index such as phenytoin and warfarin (23).
  • P-glycoprotein substrates: In preclinical studies, rhodiola was shown to inhibit P-gp activity and can interfere with the metabolism of certain drugs (12) (21). Clinical relevance is yet to be determined.
  • Antidepressants: Rhodiola has MAO inhibition activity and may increase serotonergic side effects (13). Clinical relevance is yet to be determined.
  • Antihypertensives: Rhodiola has MAO inhibition activity and may increase hypotensive side effects (13). Clinical relevance is yet to be determined.
  • CNS Stimulants: Rhodiola has MAO inhibition activity and may enhance the hypertensive effect (13). Clinical relevance is yet to be determined.
Dosage (OneMSK Only)
  1. De Bock K, Eijnde BO, Ramaekers M, et al. Acute Rhodiola rosea intake can improve endurance exercise performance. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. Jun 2004;14(3):298-307.
  2. Darbinyan V, Kteyan A, Panossian A, et al. Rhodiola rosea in stress induced fatigue—a double blind cross-over study of a standardized extract SHR-5 with a repeated low-dose regimen on the mental performance of healthy physicians during night duty. Phytomedicine. Oct 2000;7(5):365-371.
  3. Shevtsov VA, Zholus BI, Shervarly VI, et al. A randomized trial of two different doses of a SHR-5 Rhodiola rosea extract versus placebo and control of capacity for mental work. Phytomedicine. Mar 2003;10(2-3):95-105.
  4. Spasov AA, Wikman GK, Mandrikov VB, et al. A double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study of the stimulating and adaptogenic effect of Rhodiola rosea SHR-5 extract on the fatigue of students caused by stress during an examination period with a repeated low-dose regimen. Phytomedicine. Apr 2000;7(2):85-89.
  5. Olsson EM, von Scheele B, Panossian AG. A randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-group study of the standardised extract shr-5 of the roots of Rhodiola rosea in the treatment of subjects with stress-related fatigue. Planta Med. Feb 2009;75(2):105-112.
  6. Bystritsky A, Kerwin L, Feusner JD. A pilot study of Rhodiola rosea (Rhodax) for generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). J Altern Complement Med. Mar 2008;14(2):175-180.
  7. Darbinyan V, Aslanyan G, Amroyan E, et al. Clinical trial of Rhodiola rosea L. extract SHR-5 in the treatment of mild to moderate depression. Nord J Psychiatry. 2007;61(5):343-348.
  8. Zhang L, Yu H, Zhao X, et al. Neuroprotective effects of salidroside against beta-amyloid-induced oxidative stress in SH-SY5Y human neuroblastoma cells. Neurochem Int. Nov 2010;57(5):547-555.
  9. Li X, Ye X, Sun X, et al. Salidroside protects against MPP(+)-induced apoptosis in PC12 cells by inhibiting the NO pathway. Brain Res. Mar 25 2011;1382:9-18.
  10. Hu X, Zhang X, Qiu S, et al. Salidroside induces cell-cycle arrest and apoptosis in human breast cancer cells. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. Jul 16 2010;398(1):62-67.
  11. Zhang H, Shen WS, Gao CH, et al. Protective effects of salidroside on epirubicin-induced early left ventricular regional systolic dysfunction in patients with breast cancer. Drugs R D. Jun 1 2012;12(2):101-106.
  12. Hellum BH, Tosse A, Hoybakk K, et al. Potent in vitro inhibition of CYP3A4 and P-glycoprotein by Rhodiola rosea. Planta Med. Mar 2010;76(4):331-338.
  13. van Diermen D, Marston A, Bravo J, et al. Monoamine oxidase inhibition by Rhodiola rosea L. roots. J Ethnopharmacol. Mar 18 2009;122(2):397-401.
  14. Mao Y, Li Y, Yao N. Simultaneous determination of salidroside and tyrosol in extracts of Rhodiola L. by microwave assisted extraction and high-performance liquid chromatography. J Pharm Biomed Anal. Nov 5 2007;45(3):510-515.
  15. Panossian A, Wikman G, Sarris J. Rosenroot (Rhodiola rosea): traditional use, chemical composition, pharmacology and clinical efficacy. Phytomedicine. Jun 2010;17(7):481-493.
  16. Lin SS, Chin LW, Chao PC, et al. In vivo Th1 and Th2 cytokine modulation effects of Rhodiola rosea standardised solution and its major constituent, salidroside. Phytother Res. Nov 2011;25(11):1604-1611.
  17. Palumbo DR, Occhiuto F, Spadaro F, et al. Rhodiola rosea Extract Protects Human Cortical Neurons against Glutamate and Hydrogen Peroxide-induced Cell Death Through Reduction in the Accumulation of Intracellular Calcium. Phytother Res. Jun 2012;26(6):878-883.
  18. McGovern E, McDonnell TJ. Herbal medicine—sets the heart racing! Ir Med J. Jul-Aug 2010;103(7):219.
  19. Edwards D, Heufelder A, Zimmermann A. Therapeutic effects and safety of Rhodiola rosea extract WS® 1375 in subjects with life-stress symptoms—results of an open-label study. Phytother Res. 2012 Aug;26(8):1220-5.
  20. Ishaque S, Shamseer L, Bukutu C, Vohra S. Rhodiola rosea for physical and mental fatigue: a systematic review. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2012 May 29;12:70.
  21. Spanakis M, Vizirianakis IS, Batzias G, Niopas I. Pharmacokinetic interaction between losartan and Rhodiola rosea in rabbits. Pharmacology. 2013;91(1-2):112-6.
  22. Mao JJ, Xie SX, Zee J, et al. Rhodiola rosea versus sertraline for major depressive disorder: A randomized placebo-controlled trial. Phytomedicine. 2015 Mar 15;22(3):394-9.
  23. Thu OK, Spigset O, Nilsen OG, et al. Effect of commercial Rhodiola rosea on CYP enzyme activity in humans. Eur J Clin Pharmacol. Mar 2016;72(3):295-300.
  24. Ma GP, Zheng Q, Xu MB, et al. Rhodiola rosea L. Improves Learning and Memory Function: Preclinical Evidence and Possible Mechanisms. Front Pharmacol. 2018;9:1415.
  25. Li X, Chen W, Xu Y, et al. Quality Evaluation of Randomized Controlled Trials of Rhodiola Species: A Systematic Review. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2021;2021:9989546.
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