Everything You Need to Know About Rhodiola Rosea

Everything You Need to Know About Rhodiola Rosea

Rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea), also known as arctic root, golden root, or rose root, is a Siberian plant that grows primarily in dry, cold arctic climates. Common in Chinese medicine, the ground root of the plant has gained recognition as a potent adaptogen with over 140 active ingredients. It has been studied for effects that range from stress relief to weight loss and emotional control. 

Tonicc contains 200 mg of Siberian rhodiola root extract per serving standardized to 5% rosavins and 2% salidroside. People usually add a single serving (or pump) to their morning beverage to supplement their diet. As an adaptogen, it has the potential to stimulate your body’s resistance to physical, environmental, and emotional stressors, setting you up for the day. 

Read on to learn more about rhodiola’s benefits, uses, safety, and more. 

In this guide:

  • What is Rhodiola Rosea?
  • Rhodiola Uses and Benefits
  • How It Works
  • Rhodiola Dosages, Safety, and Known Interactions

What is Rhodiola Rosea?

Rhodiola rosea is a perennial flowering plant native to the cold, mountainous regions of Europe and Asia. For thousands of years, the plant’s root was prized for its adaptogenic properties. The root is known to contain over 140 active ingredients, of which the most potent are rosavin and salidroside.

Rosavin is the only constituent compound that is found exclusively in Rhodiola rosea and not in any other plant within the Rhodiola family. Salidroside, on the other hand, is common in most other rhodiola species. The ratio of rosavin to salidroside is approximately 3:1. 

Traditionally, in Russia and Scandinavia, it was commonly used to enhance energy, stamina, strength, and mental capacity. In Chinese medicine, it is known as Hong Jian Tian and is prescribed for hypoxia and fatigue.

Rhodiola Uses and Benefits

Rhodiola has numerous uses and benefits, with an increasing number of studies noting its effects. Here’s is an overview of the current evidence:

Stress Reduction

Rhodiola is a well-known adaptogen. An adaptogen is a natural substance used in herbal medicine that fortifies your body against psychological and physical stress. It helps you to adapt. 

In a 2017 study, 118 people with burnout symptoms were given 400 mg per day of rhodiola for over 12 weeks. After the treatment ended, most participants saw an improvement in stress and overall symptoms – the effect was observable within the first week. 

Some animal studies also indicate that rhodiola may be helpful in stress-induced eating disorders. Salidroside, in particular, can reduce binge eating behavior. In one study, rats given Rhodiola rosea extract containing 3.12% salidroside decreased or eliminated binge eating in the animals. Furthermore, a similar study found that rhodiola reduced stress-induced anorexia in rats. 

However, we must be cautious about translating animal clinical trials to humans. 

Helps With Fatigue

Fatigue is a natural consequence of stress. But it can also occur due to inadequate sleep, or demanding conditions. In a double-blind, placebo controlled study students who were fatigued from a stressful examination period were given 100 mg rhodiola daily for 20 days. The study found that rhodiola boosted metrics for physical and mental performance, with exam scores 8.4% higher in the rhodiola group relative to placebo. General well-being was also reported to have improved compared to the placebo group. Studies showing Rhodiola’s anti-fatigue effect have been conducted on other groups in demanding conditions such as: Physicians, Pilots, and Military Cadets.

People with prolonged or chronic fatigue symptoms confirmed these findings. After 8 weeks of 400 g of rhodiola extract per day, participants saw improvements in stress, fatigue, quality of life, mood, and concentration. 

Mood Enhancement

Low mood is often caused by chronic stress and fatigue. Little surprise then that rhodiola also has antidepressant properties; however, the mechanism may also involve balancing neurotransmitter levels in the brain. 

In a 2015 study, rhodiola reduced depressive symptoms in people with major depressive disorder. It wasn’t as effective as sertraline – a first-line antidepressant – although rhodiola had fewer side effects and was better tolerated. 

The root extract could relieve the symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder. One study reported that 10 participants treated with 340 mg of rhodiola for 10 weeks saw significant declines in anxiety scores. 

Improved Exercise Performance

The effects of Rhodiola rosea aren’t just mental. The herbal supplement appears to significantly boost athletic performance and endurance. For example, a 2004 study in young healthy volunteers saw significant improvements in key parameters, such as VO2peak and time to exhaustion, compared to placebo. The participants took 200 mg of rhodiola for 4 weeks. 

The results were mirrored in a 2009 analysis, where 15 active college women received 3 mg/kg of rhodiola for a week. After this time, the women ran a 6-mile time trial course faster, had a lower average heart rate, had a greater post-exercise mood, and even improved their score on a Stroop test

Finally, a 2011 systematic review confirmed that R. rosea may have a beneficial effect on physical performance. However, the report noted that most clinical trials had a small number of participants and were generally of moderate quality. 

Greater Cognitive Function

So far, the majority of trials analyzing rhodiola’s effect on brain performance are in animals. Still, the evidence is of high quality. A 2018 review of 36 animal studies concluded that rhodiola improves learning and memory function. The authors suggest several possible mechanisms, including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and cholinergic regulatory effects. Salidroside appears to be the active ingredient mediating the improvement. 

More recent human studies highlight its potent effects on mental clarity, focus, and overall cognitive performance, making it an invaluable supplement for those facing mental demands.

One double-blind trial examined military cadets engaged in night duties, revealing that just five days of rhodiola supplementation significantly reduced fatigue and enhanced mental work capacity compared to a placebo. This benefit was evident within two hours of ingestion and sustained until the end of the trial. Similarly, during stressful examination periods, students who took 100mg of SHR-5 for 20 days experienced improved neuromotor fitness and well-being, with their exam scores being 8.4% higher than those of the placebo group. This suggests that rhodiola not only helps manage stress but also boosts cognitive outputs during academically challenging times.

Moreover, a study involving healthy physicians who took 170mg of rhodiola (4.5mg salidroside) for two weeks in a double-blind crossover setup found significant anti-fatigue effects. The supplementation improved performance on work-related tasks by about 20%, underscoring rhodiola's potential to enhance professional performance and mental acuity. These findings are consistent with rhodiola's reputation in traditional medicine as a stimulant to mental capacity and physical endurance, highlighting its modern application as a natural booster for cognitive function and mental resilience.

A study of 60 people reported that rhodiola improved concentration and reduced fatigue. The effects of cognitive function may primarily relate to its adaptogenic effects – meaning the benefits are most prominent during stressful and physically strenuous times. 

How It Works

The underlying mechanism of Rhodiola rosea is still poorly understood. The beneficial effects are due to the 140 active chemical compounds found in the roots, including phenols, rosavin, rosin, rosarin, organic acids, terpenoids, phenolic acids and their derivatives, flavonoids, anthraquinones, alkaloids, tyrosol, and salidroside. 

Of these, rosavin and salidroside are suspected to be the primary active ingredients. Salidroside, for example, is believed to help prevent the breakdown of dopamine and norepinephrine. By boosting the available levels of these compounds, rhodiola increases concentration and focus and reduces stress.

It may also increase levels of serotonin – a similar mechanism of action to antidepressants. This may explain its mood-enhancing effects. 

Rosavins (including rosavin, rosin, and rosarin), on the other hand, may have antioxidant properties, protecting against oxidative stress, stress modulatory effects (by affecting the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis), and even help increase energy levels within cells, reducing fatigue and enhancing physical performance. Although, separating rosavin’s effects from those of R. rosea more generally remains a challenge. 

Rhodiola Dosages, Safety, and Known Interactions


Rhodiola is available as a capsule or liquid. Dried root extract is also available; however, it must be brewed to create an herbal tea. 

The recommended adult dosage, if taken in capsule form, is 100 to 300 mg daily. The effects will vary from person to person. Start small and gradually increase your dosage to achieve the desired effects. In clinical trials, dosages up to 1,500 mg have been used. It is recommended that you take no more than 700 mg per day without speaking to your healthcare provider or pharmacist. 

When starting with Tonicc, we recommend taking a half-serving (½ pump or 2.5 mL) initially. Over the next few days, observe how you feel. If needed, gradually increase the dosage to 1 pump daily to achieve the maximum benefit.


Rhodiola is extremely safe with minimal side effects. However, in some people, rhodiola may cause difficulty sleeping, drowsiness, dry mouth or excessive saliva production, stomach upset, or headache. Some people compare the symptoms to caffeine, as jitteriness is a particular problem – especially among people who are prone to anxiety. 

The supplement also has a mild stimulant-type effect. Because of this, it is not recommended for people who have bipolar disorder or otherwise take stimulants (e.g., people with ADHD taking Ritalin). 

Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should also avoid using rhodiola. Additionally, Rhodiola is not recommended in children.

Medication Interactions

Rhodiola can interact with certain medications. The herbal supplement lowers blood pressure. In people who take blood pressure medication (anti-hypertensives), this effect can become compounded, lowering blood pressure below the optimal level. This may cause postural hypotension or a sudden drop in blood pressure upon standing.

It can also lower blood sugar levels; people with diabetes who take insulin or other medication should, therefore, exercise caution. In people taking warfarin and anti-inflammatory drugs, rhodiola may increase the effects of these medications.

People taking immune suppressants should avoid the supplement as it may affect how it works. Anyone with an autoimmune condition may also consider not taking the supplement.