Rhodiola rosea (also known as golden root, Aaron’s rod, arctic root, rose root, etc.) is a plant that grows in arctic and cold regions of the world. It has been used in Russia for centuries to deal with stressful life and Siberian climate . It is popular plant in traditional medicine in Eastern Europe and Asia . Rhodiola rosea has been theorized to enhance endurance performance through a stimulating effect.
Ergogenic Efficacy of Rhodiola Rosea
The number of sport supplements in continuously increasing. One of the more recent plant extracts that is attracting lots of attention is Rhodiola rosea. Rhodiola rosea has been categorized as adaptogen by Russian researchers due to its ability to increase resistance to stress conditions , hopefully including exercise. There are some studies which attribute Rhodiola rosea with some beneficial effects such as increase in strength , enhanced physical performance and eliminating fatigue . However, these studies rely on poorly controlled research design .
Katrien De Bock and associates  decided to reinvestigate some of the previously mentioned effects with a well controlled experimental design. Most previous studies which investigated Rhodiola rosea’s effect on physical performance were mostly short-term. Therefore, the aim of this study was also to compare acute and four-week effect of Rhodiola rosea (200 mg/day) supplementation. The main finding of this study was that acute ingestion of Rhodiola rosea increases endurance capacity. For Rhodiola rosea group time to exhaustion was increase by about 3% (up to 10%). Contrary to its effect on endurance, it did not have any effect on muscle strength.
In support to this study Eric Noreen et al.  reported that acute Rhodiola rosea ingestion decreases the heart rate response to sub-maximal exercise, and appears to improve endurance exercise performance. The lower heart rate response was also noted in master skiers after 20-km race on skies carrying rifles and shooting targets at stop by about 20% . The group receiving Rhodiola rosea also had a statistically significant increase in shooting accuracy, less arm tremor, and better coordination .
According to WebMD.com : “Rhodiola appears to have a beneficial effect in enhancing sexual function. It improves satisfaction, pleasure, erections, response to orgasms.”
Rhodiola Rosea Side Effects
Because of its stimulatory properties Rhodiola rosea might interfere with sleep, thus should be taken early in the day. Rhodiola rosea has a very low-level of toxicity and has overall very few side effects .
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- Noreen, Eric et al. “The effects of an acute dose of Rhodiola rosea on exercise performance and cognitive function” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition (2009): 6
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- Charlene Laino. “Natural Sex Boosters Gaining Ground” Retrieved from WebMD.com at 25. May 2013
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