Common Names

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

For Patients & Caregivers

How It Works

Rhodiola was shown to improve physical and mental performance by reducing fatigue caused by stress.

Rhodiola is used in traditional medicine in Eastern Europe and Asia as a stimulant, to improve performance, and to reduce fatigue and depression. Some pilot studies in humans do support these claims, but more studies are needed. Because it may interact through pathways the body uses to metabolize prescription medications, patients should ask their doctor before taking rhodiola supplements.

Purported Uses

  • Depression
    Human studies showed that rhodiola may improve anxiety or mild to moderate depression. Further research is needed.
  • Fatigue
    Several studies found that rhodiola can reduce fatigue under stressful conditions.
  • Performance
    Rhodiola improved exercise capacity and mental performance in human studies.

Do Not Take If

  • You are taking drugs that are substrates of Cytochrome P450 3A4: Rhodiola may increase the risk of side effects of these drugs.
  • You are taking drugs that are substrates of P-glycoprotein: Rhodiola may increase the risk of side effects of these drugs.
  • You are taking antidepressants: Rhodiola may increase the risk of side effects of these drugs.
  • You are taking drugs for high blood pressure: Rhodiola may increase the risk of side effects of these drugs.
  • You are taking drugs that stimulate the central nervous system: Rhodiola may increase the risk of side effects of these drugs.

Side Effects

  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • A case of fast and irregular heart beat has been reported with simultaneous use of rhodiola and an antidepressant.
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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 fight depression. Rhodiola rosea extract and its key constituent salidroside have been esearched, although studies in humans are limited.

In vitro studies indicate that salidroside from rhodiola may have neuroprotective (8) (9) and anticancer effects (10). Supplementation with rhodiola has been shown to improve physical endurance (1) and mental performance (2) (3), reduce stress-induced fatigue in humans (4) (5), and improve stress symptoms (19) (20). Preliminary data also suggest that it may be effective against generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) (6). Rhodiola was also shown useful in the treatment of mild to moderate depression (7); it was also better tolerated with fewer side effects, although less effective, compared to sertraline (22).

A small study showed that salidroside may have cardioprotective effects in patients with breast cancer receiving treatment with epirubicin (11), but more data are needed to confirm this effect.

Purported Uses

  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Enhanced mental and physical performance

Mechanism of Action

In animal models, rhodiola exhibits dose- and time-dependent Th1 and Th2 cytokine modulation effects (16). Salidroside in rhodiola confers neuroprotective effects via nitric oxide (NO) pathway inhibition in vitro (9) and through induction of antioxidant enzymes thioredoxin, heme oxygenase-1, and peroxiredoxin-I; downregulation of proapoptotic Bax protein; and upregulation of antiapoptotic Bcl-XL proteins (8). Another study shows the constituents of rhodiola have synergistic antioxidant activity (17). In vitro, rhodiola inhibits monoamine oxidases (MAOs) A and B, suggesting that it has antidepressant effects (13).

In human breast cancer cells, salidroside induces cell-cycle arrest and apoptosis via mechanisms as yet unidentified, but independent of the estrogen receptor (10).


  • 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: A 26-year-old Chinese female presented to the emergency department with significant tachyarrhythmia following ingestion of rhodiola along with her antidepressant for 3 days (18).

Herb-Drug Interactions

  • Cytochrome P450 3A4 substrates: Rhodiola inhibits CYP3A4 and can affect the intracellular concentration of drugs metabolized by this enzyme (12) (21).
  • P-glycoprotein substrates: Rhodiola was shown to inhibit P-gp activity and can interfere with the metabolism of certain drugs (12) (21).
  • Antidepressants: Rhodiola has MAO inhibition activity and may increase the serotonergic side effects (13).
  • Antihypertensives: Rhodiola has MAO inhibition activity and may increase the hypotensive side effects (13).
  • CNS Stimulants: Rhodiola has MAO inhibition activity and may enhance the hypertensive effect (13).

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. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. Panossian A, Wikman G, Sarris J. Rosenroot (Rhodiola rosea): traditional use, chemical composition, pharmacology and clinical efficacy. Phytomedicine. Jun 2010;17(7):481-493.

  8. McGovern E, McDonnell TJ. Herbal medicine—sets the heart racing! Ir Med J. Jul-Aug 2010;103(7):219.

  9. 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.

  10. Spanakis M, Vizirianakis IS, Batzias G, Niopas I. Pharmacokinetic interaction between losartan and Rhodiola rosea in rabbits. Pharmacology. 2013;91(1-2):112-6.

  11. 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.

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