Rhodiola rosea-Rhodiola

Family: Crassulaceae

Other names: Sedum rhodiola, S. rosea. (L.)Scop, golden root, roseroot, Aaron’s rod, arctic root, king’s crown, lignum rhodium, orpin rose

Habitat: Arctic regions of Europe, Asia and N. America, including Britain, further south on mountains. Crevices of mountain rocks and on sea cliffs.

Rhodiola has been used for many years especially in the arctic regions of Europe for it’s anti- aging properties and more commonly for increasing stamina  strength and mental capacity; and as a so-called “adaptogen” to help the body adapt to and resist physical, chemical, and environmental stress. It is also used for improving athletic performance, shortening recovery time after long workouts, improving sexual function; for depression; and for heart disorders such as irregular heartbeat and high cholesterol.  It’s historical use is well documented it having being Although there are no known fatalities due to the use of this herb the American FDA have banned it’s use in certain preparations. Some people use rhodiola for treating cancer, tuberculosis, and diabetes; preventing cold and flu, aging, and liver damage; improving hearing; strengthening the nervous system; and enhancing immunity.

By Opioła Jerzy [GFDL (https://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC-BY-2.5 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons

Description of Rhodiola: 

Rhodiola rosea; Rhodiola is a PERENNIAL growing to 0.3 m (1ft) by 0.3 m (1ft in). It is hardy to zone 1 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from May to August, and the seeds ripen from Jul to August. The flowers are dioecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but only one sex is to be found on any one plant so both male and female plants must be grown if seed is required) and are pollinated by Bees, flies.The plant is not self-fertile.

Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. Needs full sun. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought. The plant can tolerate maritime exposure.

Cultivation of Rhodiola:

Prefers a fertile well drained open loam in a sunny position. Tolerates fairly damp conditions but prefers a raised well-drained spot. Established plants are drought resistant. This species is extremely polymorphic. Plants often self-sows when they are growing in a suitable position. They can self-sow to the point of nuisance. The dried root has a rose scent. Dioecious. Male and female plants must be grown if seed is required.

Propagation of Rhodiola:

Seed – surface sow in a sunny position in a greenhouse in spring. Do not let the compost dry out. The seed usually germinates in 2 – 4 weeks at 10°c. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle, and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant out in early summer of the following year. Division in August to October. Very easy, larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. We have found that it is better to pot up the smaller divisions and grow them on in light shade in a cold frame until they are well established before planting them out in late spring or early summer. Cuttings taken in the growing season. Basal shoots in early summer are easiest. Harvest the shoots with plenty of underground stem when they are about 8 – 10cm above the ground. Pot them up into individual pots and keep them in light shade in a cold frame or greenhouse until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the summer.

Culinary uses of Rhodiola:

Edible Parts: Leaves,  Root,  Stem.

Edible Uses:

The young succulent leaves and shoots are eaten raw or cooked like spinach. A slightly bitter taste, we find them unpleasant on their own though they can be used as a small part of a mixed salad. They can be made into a sauerkraut. Stems – cooked and eaten like asparagus. Root – raw or cooked. It was fermented before being eaten by the N. American Indians.

Rhodiola_roseaMedicinal uses of Rhodiola:

Adaptogen,  Antidepressant,  Stomachic,  TB.

Part used: Root

Though little known as a medicinal plant in heroic disciplines, Rhodiola has been used in traditional European medicine for over three thousand years, mainly as a tonic. Modern research has shown that it increases the body’s resistance to any type of stress by regulating the body’s hormonal response. Its use has been shown to have a protective effect upon the neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine in the brain. It improves neurotransmitter activity by inhibiting their enzymatic destruction and preventing their decline caused by excessive stress hormone release. Rose root also enhances the transport of serotonin’s precursors into the brain and studies have shown that use of this herb can increase brain serotonin by up to 30%. The root is adaptogen. It has an enhancing effect upon physical endurance and sexual potency. A decoction of the flowers has been used to treat stomach aches and intestinal discomfort. The raw flowers have been eaten in the treatment of tuberculosis. It is recommended for fatigue and depression.

Dosage and preparation of Rhodiola:

150 – 200 milligrams of the extract daily of a preparation that contains 3 percent rosavins, and 0.8 percent salidroside

 Other uses of Rhodiola:

Essential Oil Plants can be grown as a ground cover when planted about 30cm apart each way. The dried root smells strongly of roses. They may be used to distill rose-water.

Esoteric uses of Rhodiola:

None known but if you use this herb for any purpose please let us know!

The Chemistry:

There have been 140 chemical compounds isolated in the subterranean portions of R. rosea.

Rhodiola roots contain:

phenols,rosavin, rosin, rosarin, organic acids, terpenoids, phenolcarbonic acids and their derivatives, flavonoids, antrachinones, and alkaloids.

The chemical composition of the essential oil from R. rosea root growing in different countries varies. For example, rosavin, rosarin and rosin at their highest concentration according to many tests can be found only in R. rosea of Russian origin; the main component of the essential oil from Rhodiola growing in Bulgaria are geraniol and myrtenol; in China the main components are geraniol and octanol; and in India the main component is phenylethilic alcohol. Cinnamic alcohol was discovered only in the sample from Bulgaria. So try to find out where the herb you are planning to use is from!