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The Effectiveness of Rhodiola rosea L. Preparations in Alleviating Various Aspects of Life-Stress Symptoms and Stress-Induced Conditions-Encouraging Clinical Evidence

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Sana Ishaque,1Larissa Shamseer,1,2Cecilia Bukutu,3 and Sunita Vohra1

Abstract

Rhodiola rosea L. has a long history of use in traditional medicine to stimulate the nervous system, treat stress-induced fatigue and depression, enhance physical performance and work productivity and treat gastrointestinal ailments and impotence. Apart from its well-established traditional use, a significant number of publications on the clinical efficacy of various R. rosea preparations can be found in the literature. The majority of these studies are related to the efficacy of R. rosea in terms of cognitive functions and mental performance, including various symptoms of life-stress, fatigue and burnout. The beneficial effects of this medicinal plant on enhancing physical performance have also been evaluated in professional athletes and non-trained individuals. Moreover, even though most evidence originates from pre-clinical trials, several clinical studies have additionally demonstrated the remediating effects of R. rosea on cardiovascular and reproductive health by addressing non-specific stress damage and reversing or healing the disrupted physiologies and disfunctions. Overall, in accordance with its aim, the results presented in this review provide an encouraging basis for the clinical efficacy of R. rosea preparations in managing various aspects of stress-induced conditions.

Keywords: Rhodiola rosearoserootgolden rootmedicinal plantsphytotherapyclinical studiesadaptogenstress protection

1. Introduction

Rhodiola rosea L. (syn. Sedum rhodiola DC.; Sedum roseum (L.) Scop), also known as “roseroot”, “golden root” or “arctic root”, belongs to the plant family Crassulaceae. The yellow-flowered herbaceous perennial naturally grows at high altitudes in dry sandy soil, on sea cliffs and in the crevices of mountain rocks of the Arctic regions of Europe and Asia (mainly Siberia), as well as the eastern coastal regions of North America [1]. R. rosea L. has appeared as a valuable medicinal plant in the traditional and popular medicine of a number of European and Asian countries, including Sweden, Norway, France, Germany and Iceland, as well as Russia and China. Traditionally, R. rosea has been used for centuries to increase physical endurance, work productivity, longevity, resistance to high-altitude sickness, to treat fatigue, depression, anemia, impotence, for gastrointestinal ailments, infections and nervous system disorders [2,3,4,5].

The long, well-established traditional medicinal use of R. rosea has stimulated extensive modern scientific research leading to the identification of R. rosea as an “adaptogen”, a substance that nonspecifically increases the resistance of an organism, does not disturb normal biological parameters and has a normalizing influence on physiology [6,7]. The term adaptogen dates to 1947 and has been credited to the Russian scientist Nikolai Lazarev, who defined it as an agent that allows for an organism to counteract adverse physical, chemical, or biological stressors by generating non-specific resistance [6]. To successfully combat stress and stressful situations, adaptation is required. Adaptation might be best thought of as an organism’s ability to resist a stressor by responding with either decreased or no characteristic perturbations in homeostasis. Plant adaptogens have the capacity to guide the physiological processes to start the generalized adaptation process (non-specific resistance) and handle the stressful situation in a more resourceful manner.

Based on its long-term use in traditional medicine and numerous scientific studies, in 2011, the European Medicines Agency’s (EMA) herbal monograph on Rhodiola rosea L. rhizoma et radix (EMA/HMPC/232091/2011) approved its traditional use as an adaptogen for the temporary relief of symptoms associated with stress, such as fatigue, exhaustion and a general sensation of weakness [7]. The final report of the agency concluded that the long-standing use, as well as the outcome of the clinical trials, supported the plausibility of the use of R. rosea’s herbal preparation in the proposed indication. At present, scientific research and clinical studies, which are predominantly conducted in Russia, Scandinavia, Germany, UK, China, USA and other countries, have largely confirmed that R. rosea is an effective psychostimulant, general strengthener and an anti-stress agent. This was successfully referenced in studies addressing stress-related depression and anxiety, fatigue, cardiovascular disease, physical strength and endurance, impotence, high-altitude sickness and nervous system disorders. As a dietary supplement, numerous preparations of R. rosea are used worldwide. The functional claim of R. rosea dietary supplements that are currently mentioned in the consolidated list of Article 13 health claims of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is formulated as follows: “contributes to optimal mental and cognitive activity” [8].

Reference:

https://www.mdpi.com/1420-3049/27/12/3902

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