Rhodiola Rosea: Exploring Health Claims Behind a Popular Supplement

By Amy Brownstein, December 15, 2023

Rhodiola rosea supplement recommendationRhodiola rosea is a supplement commonly praised for its power to fight fatigue and more recently has garnered attention for its potential adaptogenic benefits. Rhodiola supplementation has been said to increase energy, strength, mental capacity, and physical performance while attenuating symptoms of fatigue and stress. But are the health claims surrounding this supplement justified?  

This scientific article dives into the research supporting the effects of Rhodiola rosea on various aspects of your health such as endurance, energy, stress, inflammation, and heart health.

*Consult a healthcare professional before taking any nutritional supplements, even if they’re recommended by InsideTracker. 


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What is Rhodiola rosea?

Rhodiola rosea is a medicinal plant that has been used for centuries worldwide to treat various ailments. It is considered an adaptogen due to its beneficial anti-stress and anti-fatigue properties, which may have a positive influence on athletic performance.

Adaptogenic effects of Rhodoiola rosea

Adaptogens are active ingredients in plants that help the body resist stressors, whether they be physical, chemical, or biological. Adaptogens must meet three criteria [1]: 

  • Help the body cope with stress
  • Assist the body with maintaining balance (homeostasis)
  • Be non-toxic when taken in normal doses and not harmful to normal body functions

The benefits of adaptogens are derived from active compounds in the plants that structurally resemble catecholamines, hormones produced by the brain, nerve tissues, and adrenal glands that influence nervous system activity. [2] 

The adaptogenic effects of Rhodiola rosea may be attributed to the compounds rosavin and salidroside, which may positively benefit athletic performance, energy, and stress levels. In particular, salidroside influences the central nervous system to reduce damage and protect cells. [2] While salidroside exists in many Rhodiola species, rosavin is unique to the Rhodiola rosea plant. [3]

How Rhodiola rosea boosts energy

Rhodiola rosea is perhaps most notably known for its potential to improve energy levels by reducing fatigue and burnout. 

Fatigue represents a persistent, all-encompassing state of tiredness or lack of energy. It can result from various conditions, including excessive physical or mental exertion, sleep deprivation, poor diet, or health issues. [4] Persistent fatigue can significantly impact your ability and desire to participate in activities that you typically enjoy.

Studies evaluating the effect of Rhodiola on mental fatigue among younger individuals (ages 19 to 35 years old) working the night shift as cadets or physicians found that supplementing Rhodiola rosea at acute doses (24 hours) and chronic doses (duration of two to six weeks) improved attention, stress-related fatigue, and mental capacity, including short-term memory and the speed of visual and auditory perception. 

Rhodiola rosea may reduce mental fatigue among people in stressful work environments, but how much energy levels increase may be related to the amount of time an individual is in a state of fatigue or stress and the dosage provided. [5,6,7]

Rhodiola rosea can improve endurance

Animal studies suggest that Rhodiola rosea may improve athletic performance by affecting pathways involved in energy regulation, resulting in improved energy, reduced fatigue, and lessened inflammation. Moreover, Rhodiola rosea may influence exercise training and recovery through its adaptogenic effects that attenuate cellular stress. 

Evidence in humans shows improvements in different performance measures. One randomized controlled trial among active female college students discovered that supplementing with Rhodiola rosea improved anaerobic capacity and both average and peak power. Supplement protocol included 1500 milligrams (mg) of Rhodiola (a relatively high dose compared to other research) for three days leading up to the exercise trial plus an additional 500 mg of Rhodiola 30 minutes before exercise. [8] Another study in young active women found that supplementing with Rhodiola rosea one hour before training reduced perceived exertion, improved performance, and resulted in a faster time trial. [9] 

It is still being determined whether acute or long-term Rhodiola rosea supplementation provides the most benefit for exercise performance. [10] 

Rhodiola rosea may reduce inflammation

Maintaining low levels of inflammation benefits longevity, as chronic inflammation is associated with cardiometabolic diseases. Long-term (28 to 30 days) ingestion of Rhodiola rosea may minimize inflammation, especially following exercise, which naturally causes some inflammation to promote muscle adaptation. 

One small study among untrained men in their early twenties noticed a less pronounced increase in high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP)—a marker of inflammation—five hours after exercise in participants who had taken Rhodiola rosea for a month compared to those taking a placebo. And hsCRP levels returned to baseline faster among participants given Rhodiola rosea than those taking a placebo. [11] Though acute inflammation promotes muscle growth, too much inflammation can be problematic, so having less inflammation can actually help you build muscle over the long term.

While some evidence supports the supplement’s effects on inflammation, more research is needed.


Rhodiola rosea and cognition

To date, research does not support the benefit of Rhodiola rosea on cognition, specifically cognitive processing, reaction time, and number of errors for a given task. [12] However, Rhodiola rosea may encourage greater attention and precision due to its stimulant properties. One study found using Rhodiola rosea daily for a month reduced variability, reaction time, and omissions (not responding to a question when required)—all proxies for attention and focus. [5]

More research is required to determine whether the supplement supports improvements in cognitive performance.

Rhodiola rosea's impact on reducing stress

Burnout is stress characterized by mental and physical exhaustion. It is a risk factor for depression, anxiety, and cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. And work-related burnout is associated with an increased risk of death. [13] Some research supports that Rhodiola rosea may reduce stress, burnout, and anxiety and may positively affect mood and symptoms of anger, confusion, and depression. [12]

To understand this further, we look to the stress hormone, cortisol. As part of the circadian rhythm, cortisol levels are naturally higher in the morning to help you wake up and lower in the evening to prepare the body for sleep. In people experiencing stress or burnout, cortisol levels are higher than expected during awakening. Supplementing with Rhodiola rosea inhibits the response of cortisol to stress, decreasing morning cortisol levels. The effect of Rhodiola rosea on cortisol levels may provide additional benefits, as persistently elevated cortisol is a risk factor for the development of many age-related diseases, and significant cortisol fluctuations may contribute to cognitive impairment. [5] 

Due to its effect on the body’s stress response, Rhodiola rosea may influence markers of heart health. However, evidence is limited and varying. Some studies show Rhodiola rosea reduces heart rate, while others do not. [10]

Rhodiola rosea and weight loss

Preliminary in vitro and animal studies suggest Rhodiola rosea may potentially promote weight loss. Cell studies reveal that Rhodiola rosea prevents fat accumulation and may support the breakdown of stored fat for energy and use by the body. [14] Animal studies show that a supplement combining Rhodiola rosea and another botanical extract, citrus aurantium, may decrease visceral fat, which is linked with cardiometabolic health. [15] But at this time, there’s not enough evidence in humans to support using Rhodiola rosea for weight loss.

Safety and dosage

Dosages up to 600 mg daily appear safe, with benefits reported within a range of dosages. Some research suggests doses of 200 mg an hour before exercise to improve endurance performance. [10] Still, higher dosages may be warranted for reaping the benefits of Rhodiola rosea on athletic performance in particular. Variations in doses and research findings preclude a general recommendation for an ideal amount of Rhodiola rosea. 

Few adverse effects have been reported with Rhodiola rosea usage. However, Rhodiola could negatively interact with other substances or medications that act as stimulants. Always talk to your medical provider before starting a new supplement.


What to take into consideration when choosing the right supplements

When to take Rhodiola rosea 

Rhodiola rosea is sometimes added to pre-workout or sleep supplements, or can be used on its own. If you take pre-workout or sleep supplements, check the label to see if it includes Rhodiola. Rhodiola rosea is best taken in the morning with food for energy benefits. For endurance performance, taking Rhodiola rosea an hour before exercise may help prolong time to exhaustion. [10]

As always, discuss Rhodiola rosea supplements with your medical provider to determine the appropriate dosage for safety and efficacy.

Key takeaways

  • Rhodiola rosea is a medicinal plant with adaptogenic effects that may benefit fatigue and endurance performance.
  • Some research suggests that Rhodiola rosea may increase energy levels by reducing fatigue and stress and improving attention and focus. 
  • Taking Rhodiola rosea in the morning may help boost energy levels during the day.
  • Endurance performance measures have been shown to improve with Rhodiola rosea supplementation.
  • Consult with your primary care provider to determine whether a Rhodiola rosea supplement may be right for you.

The challenge is knowing what supplements are right for you.

InsideTracker's proprietary A.I. algorithm analyzes health data including blood biomarkers, DNA, and physiomarkers and accounts for your goals and current habits (such as sleep, stress, and heart rate) to identify what actions, including supplements, will have the greatest impact on your health. 


  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6240259/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3991026/
  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25268730/
  4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22643043/
  5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19016404/
  6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12725561/
  7. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11081987/
  8. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30371146/
  9. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23443221/
  10. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/37641937/
  11. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15514725/
  12. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26502953/
  13. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29325481/
  14. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6272273/
  15. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3808124/




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