Rhodiola Rosea for Memory, Mood and Focus

Rhodiola does sound like a pasta shape. But, it is not.

Rhodiola rosea, or Rhodiola for short, is actually a very popular herbs used in Europe and Russia. If you have not heard of rhodiola, maybe you’ve heard of its other common names – Arctic root or golden root. People in Russia have been using rhodiola for years to treat fatigue, poor attention span and poor memory.

Rhodiola is an adaptogenic herb just like ginseng. As an adaptogen, it helps the body resists stress, both physically and emotionally, while maintaining normal biological functions. You know how we are more susceptible to illness when we didn’t get enough rest, and working long hours. Rhodiola or ginseng will keep our body healthy longer until stressful conditions. This means the body can resist infection or fight off a cold or infection easier.

Rhodiola rosea may be effective for improving mood and alleviating depression. Its anti-depressive effect may be through its interaction with endorphin, the feel-good hormone, in the brain to reduce signs and symptoms of depressive.

Besides its beneficial effects on emotional health, rhodiola is also a great enhancer for mental performance. It has been shown to improve concentration, focus and memory, and reducing symptoms of fatigue. Pilot studies on human subjects show that it improves physical performance, and reduce symptoms of fatigue, stress and damaging effects of oxygen deprivation.


Rasavins and salidrosides are the two main categories of compounds in rhodiola rosea that are responsible for the antidepressant and anxiolytic effects. It is believed they stimulate the production of the neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and dopamine.

Serotonin is the neurotransmitter that makes you feel good and happy. And dopamine is the one usually depleted in the prefrontal cortex of children with ADHD.

Rosavins and salidrosides also stimulate the production of epinephrine and norepinephrine, hormones that promote happiness and sense of well-being.

The adaptogenic effects come from the influence of rosavins and salidrosides in regulating the production of the stress hormone, cortisol. These compounds also have a positive effect on the central nervous system and cardiovascular system, promoting resistance to injury, stress, and fatigue. Rosavin and salidrosides suppress the stress hormone without supporting the immune system.


Rhodiola is usually taken in capsule form. Suggested dose for children is 50mg, and 100-200mg for adults a day. Be sure to let your physician know you are planning to taking rhodiola as it may interaction with some of your prescription medication as it does influence the monoamine oxidase. This is especially true if you take any MAO inhibitors.

Always start off on a small amount and slowly increase to a dose that is controlling your symptoms and comfortable with you, even if it means you are not at the recommended dosage.

Be aware that this herb may make you moody or agitated, and may cause insomnia. Again, start slow and observe. Some individuals suggest taking the herb in the morning to avoid sleepless nights.

When purchasing Rhodiola you are looking for the 2 active ingredients – Rosavin (3%) and Salidroside (1%) ratio. Most formula come in 3% rosavin and 1% salidroside.

Just like ginseng, rhodiola should not be taken for prolonged period of time as it may lose its effect with prolonged use. Take a break every 1-2 months.