Is Rhodiola the Secret to Weight Loss and Reduced Stress?

Is Rhodiola the Secret to Weight Loss and Reduced Stress?

Rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea) is an herb renowned for its medicinal health benefits. Also known as arctic root or golden root, its subterranean section is considered an adaptogen – meaning it helps your body adapt to stress.

But that's not all – its roots contain over 140 active ingredients proven to have medicinal effects ranging from lower cortisol levels to weight loss [1]. Indeed, the people of Russia and Scandinavia have relied on Rhodiola for centuries for anxiety, fatigue, and depression.

Are the benefits real? Can Rhodiola cause weight loss and reduce cortisol levels? And what other health effects does it have? Read on to find out.

In this article, you'll find:

  • What is an Adaptogen?
  • Rhodiola and Weight Loss
  • Rhodiola and Cortisol Levels
  • Other Health Benefits of Rhodiola
  • Try Tonic For Your Daily Dose of Rhodiola

What is an Adaptogen?

Let's define our terms: an adaptogen is an active compound found in plants that helps your body adapt to stress. If that sounds quite vague, it's because it is. Usually, adaptogens balance the body's hormonal response to stress – supporting your adrenal glands and immune system. 

Rhodiola, in particular, is thought to work on cortisol levels, providing normalizing effects that reduce stress and fatigue. Other common adaptogens include Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), Panax ginseng, Holy Basil (Ocimum sanctum), and Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus).

Rhodiola and Weight Loss

There's an endless number of herbal remedies that promise a natural cure for weight loss. Some swear by lemon juice and water. Others advise on green tea and probiotics. Few, if any, of these supplements produce substantial results.

Is Rhodiola different? Surprisingly, there's some real evidence backing up the claims.

For example, a 2013 study fed rodents a mixture of Rhodiola and citrus aurantium (bitter orange) [2]. The rodents' adipose fat levels were monitored alongside other factors. The researchers observed increased levels of hypothalamic norepinephrine and frontal cortex dopamine. These two neurotransmitters in these two regions could promote weight loss. The overall result was a 30% decrease in visceral fat compared to other treatments. 

Another rodent study also looked at Rhodiola and weight loss [3]. The result? Rhodiola prevented muscle atrophy and improved muscle dysfunction among obese mice. This herbal supplement could, therefore, help you keep muscle while losing fat if you are attempting weight loss. 

Two other studies support these claims. One 2015 analysis confirmed that Rhodiola extract can improve glucose and lipid metabolism in human visceral fat cells [4]. Meanwhile, a 2022 study noted that Rhodiola has a positive effect on metabolism, highlighting its potential benefit in fatty liver disease [5]. 

Finally, a systematic review (the highest level of evidence) concluded that Rhodiola is highly effective for exercise support [6]. Across the ten studies, the authors examined, Rhodiola reduced muscle pain and injury, improved skeletal muscle recovery, and boosted explosive athletic power.

So, even if Rhodiola's effect on weight loss is blunted, its beneficial impact on athletic performance and muscle maintenance makes it a fantastic supplement regardless. 

Rhodiola and Cortisol Levels

Cortisol is a stress hormone. Produced in the adrenal glands, it's released when the body enters the "fight or flight" response. However, its side effects can dampen the immune system, convert fats, protein, and carbohydrates into usable energy, and boost your blood sugar. 

In small doses, cortisol is a vital hormone you couldn't live without. But, when stress levels are persistently raised, cortisol can lead to depression, digestive problems, heart disease, sleep disturbances, weight gain, and memory and concentration impairment.

As an "adaptogen", Rhodiola is supposed to be highly effective at increasing your body's resistance to stress. An analysis of Rhodiola in sixty people aged 20-55 years old found that Rhodiola reduced fatigue symptoms in people with stress-related fatigue [7]. Cortisol levels reduced significantly within the trial's 28-day period. 

Further research reinforces the benefits of Rhodiola in managing stress and its physiological markers. A notable study involving 118 individuals with stress-related burnout demonstrated the effectiveness of taking 400 mg of Rhodiola daily over 12 weeks [8].

Participants experienced significant improvements in symptoms associated with burnout, including stress, depression, and fatigue. Remarkably, the most pronounced improvements were observed within the initial week of treatment, with continued progress throughout the duration of the study.

Other Health Benefits of Rhodiola

Rhodiola may miraculously alter stress, cortisol levels, weight management, and muscle maintenance, but that's just the start. Its adaptogenic properties help you ward off all the symptoms of stress, building resilience long-term. The herb may even have more medicinal properties, targeting cancers and balancing your blood sugar.

Consider these other potential health benefits:

  • Reduces Symptoms of Depression: Rhodiola may balance brain neurotransmitters, showing promise as an antidepressant with fewer side effects than traditional medications like sertraline [9].
  • Improves Brain Function: Suggested to enhance learning and memory, Rhodiola supports mental performance, particularly during stressful and physically demanding situations [10].
  • May Aid in Diabetes Management: Animal studies suggest Rhodiola's salidroside compound might help manage diabetes by protecting against high blood sugar levels and related kidney disease [11].
  • Potential Anticancer Properties: Salidroside in Rhodiola has shown in lab and animal studies to inhibit the growth of various cancer cells, suggesting possible anticancer benefits pending human research [12, 13].

Try Tonic For Your Daily Dose of Rhodiola

Simplify your daily Rhodiola regimen with Tonicc's Daily Vitality, a liquid nootropic and adaptogen supplement meticulously crafted to seamlessly blend with your morning coffee. Enriched with four powerhouse ingredients—Rhodiola extract, L-Theanine, and Vitamins B6 and B12—it's tailored to alleviate stress and elevate both mental and physical performance.

Encased in a glass bottle featuring a convenient pump, a single press effortlessly integrates Rhodiola into your coffee or preferred beverage with minimal to no taste alterations. Unleash the potential benefits of Rhodiola extract to amplify weight loss and regulate cortisol levels.

Embark on a journey towards effortless health and vitality by exploring our offerings at Tonicc.


  1. Li Y, Pham V, Bui M, Song L, Wu C, Walia A, Uchio E, Smith-Liu F, Zi X. Rhodiola rosea L.: an herb with anti-stress, anti-aging, and immunostimulating properties for cancer chemoprevention. Current pharmacology reports. 2017 Dec;3:384-95.
  2. Verpeut JL, Walters AL, Bello NT. Citrus aurantium and Rhodiola rosea in combination reduce visceral white adipose tissue and increase hypothalamic norepinephrine in a rat model of diet-induced obesity. Nutrition research. 2013 Jun 1;33(6):503-12.
  3. You B, Dun Y, Fu S, Qi D, Zhang W, Liu Y, Qiu L, Xie M, Liu S. The treatment of Rhodiola mimics exercise to resist high-fat diet-induced muscle dysfunction via sirtuin1-dependent mechanisms. Frontiers in Pharmacology. 2021 Apr 15;12:646489.
  4. Pomari E, Stefanon B, Colitti M. Effects of two different Rhodiola rosea extracts on primary human visceral adipocytes. Molecules. 2015 May 11;20(5):8409-28.
  5. Liu J, Li D, Dun Y, Li H, Ripley-Gonzalez JW, Zhang J, Qiu L, You B, Liu S. Rhodiola activates macrophage migration inhibitory factor to alleviate non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Life Sciences. 2022 Nov 1;308:120949.
  6. Lu Y, Deng B, Xu L, Liu H, Song Y, Lin F. Effects of Rhodiola Rosea supplementation on exercise and sport: A systematic review. Frontiers in nutrition. 2022 Apr 7;9:856287.
  7. Ross SM. Rhodiola rosea (SHR-5), Part I: A Proprietary Root Extract of: Rhodiola rosea: is found to be Effective in the Treatment of Stress-Related Fatigue. Holistic nursing practice. 2014 Mar 1;28(2):149-54.
  8. Kasper S, Dienel A. Multicenter, open-label, exploratory clinical trial with Rhodiola rosea extract in patients suffering from burnout symptoms. Neuropsychiatric disease and treatment. 2017 Mar 22:889-98.
  9. Mao JJ, Xie SX, Zee J, Soeller I, Li QS, Rockwell K, Amsterdam JD. Rhodiola rosea versus sertraline for major depressive disorder: A randomized placebo-controlled trial. Phytomedicine. 2015 Mar 15;22(3):394-9.
  10. Palmeri A, Mammana L, Tropea MR, Gulisano W, Puzzo D. Salidroside, a bioactive compound of rhodiola rosea, ameliorates memory and emotional behavior in adult mice. Journal of Alzheimer's Disease. 2016 Jan 1;52(1):65-75.
  11. Qi SS, Shao ML, Ze S, Zheng HX. Salidroside from Rhodiola rosea L. attenuates diabetic nephropathy in STZ induced diabetic rats via anti-oxidative stress, anti-inflammation, and inhibiting TGF-β1/Smad pathway. Journal of Functional Foods. 2021 Feb 1;77:104329.
  12. Fan XJ, Wang Y, Wang L, Zhu M. Salidroside induces apoptosis and autophagy in human colorectal cancer cells through inhibition of PI3K/Akt/mTOR pathway. Oncology Reports. 2016 Dec 1;36(6):3559-67.
  13. Zhu X, Liu D, Wang Y, Dong M. Salidroside suppresses nonsmall cell lung cancer cells proliferation and migration via microRNA-103-3p/Mzb1. Anti-Cancer Drugs. 2020 Jun 19;31(7):663-71.