Rhodiola, also known as golden or arctic root, has been heavily studied at both Soviet and Scandinavian clinics. This research focused primarily on its application in sports performance. During exercise, rhodiola has been shown to delay fatigue and increase energy. It can help raise levels of glutamic acid, creatine phosphate and adenosine triphosphate to build endurance and strength. Rhodiola also helps increase blood supply to the muscles and brain, boost immune function, enhance memory and speed up exercise recovery.
Researchers believe rhodiola helps reduce stress by stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system.
At the Department of Neurology, Armenian State University in Yerevan, researchers studied the effect of rhodiola on stress-induced fatigue in physicians on the night shift. For this placebo-controlled study, 56 healthy young physicians supplemented with rhodiola for the first two weeks of a six-week period. The latter four weeks, the group supplemented with a placebo. Throughout, participants underwent tests involving short-term memory, concentration, reaction time and cognitive function. A significant improvement in overall mental fatigue was observed while participants took rhodiola. No side effects were reported.
Sources: Phytomed 2000 Oct;7(5):365-71; Supplement Research Foundation (www.tsrf.com)