Rhodiola Rosea or “Golden Root” can help our bodies adapt to stress. It has been used in the traditional medicine of Russia, Scandinavia, and other countries. Between 1748 and 1961 various medicinal applications of Rhodiola Rosea appeared in the scientific literature of Sweden, Norway, France, Germany, the Soviet Union, and Iceland. Since 1961, more than 180 pharmacological, phytochemical and clinical studies have been published.
Although Rhodiola Rosea has been extensively studied as an adaptogen with various health-promoting effects, it’s properties remain largely unknown in the West. This may be partially due to the fact that the bulk of research has been published in Slavic and Scandinavian languages.
Traditional folk medicine used Rhodiola Rosea to increase physical endurance, work productivity, longevity, resistance to high altitude sickness, and to treat fatigue, depression, anemia, impotence, gastrointestinal ailments, infections, and nervous system disorders. In mountain villages of the Republic of Georgia, a bouquet of roots is still given to couples prior to marriage to enhance fertility and assure the birth of healthy children. In Middle Asia, Rhodiola Rosea tea was the most effective treatment for cold and flu during severe Asian winters. Mongolian doctors prescribed it for tuberculosis and cancer. For centuries, only family members knew where to harvest the wild “golden roots” and the methods of extraction. Siberians secretly transported the herb down ancient trails to the Caucasian Mountains where it was traded for Georgian wines, fruits, garlic, and honey. Chinese emperors sent expeditions to Siberia to bring back the “golden root” for medicinal preparations.
Rhodiola Rosea has also been used as an astringent and for the treatment of hernia, leucorrhoea (vaginal discharge), hysteria, and headache. In 1755 Rhodiola Rosea was included in the first Swedish Pharmacopoeia. Vikings used the herb to enhance their physical strength and endurance. German researchers described the benefits of Rhodiola Rosea for pain, headache, scurvy, hemorrhoids, as a stimulant, and as an anti-inflammatory.
There are still more scientific studies being held in which scientists are exploring its diverse physiological effects. Future medical applications are being developed including medicines to treat diseases such as cancer and radiation sickness, and enhancing physical and mental performance.