Rhodiola Flower

Rhodiola: Endurance, Memory, and Beyond

Here’s how I know I’m a nerd:

I have favorite medicinal herbs. One herb that caught my attention more than ten years ago and continues to turn my head is Rhodiola Rosea. This hearty little beauty grows in on mountainsides, and on sea cliffs, and even in the Arctic, so is it any wonder that it has the reputation of increasing physical endurance? [1] What do I mean when I say endurance? Rhodiola increases the time it takes for physical exhaustion when you’re exercising, and people who take it report feeling less tired every day.

Rhodiola: It’s more than endurance, it’s fatigue and mental exhaustion

But it does so much more than that. I think of Rhodiola as a sort of ‘brain tonic.’ Research shows that it can improve stress-related fatigue and mental exhaustion[1]In addition, it also increases short-term memory and people’s ability to concentrate. In fact, because it has a potent effect on the brain, it’s been proposed to be a botanical antidepressant – which is one of its historic uses[2].

Alzheimer’s and Parksinson’s

It’s for these reasons that researchers have started to suggest that Rhodiola should be used for people with neuro-cognitive and neuro-inflammatory diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease[3]. As it turns out, it has many biologically active ingredients that can increase neurotransmitter levels.

With respect to Parkinson’s disease, it has ingredients that keep neurotransmitters like dopamine from being degraded, and can naturally stimulate the production of hormones that decrease the death of dopaminergic neurons. No clinical trials have been done with Rhodiola for people with Parkinson’s disease, however, animal studies examining the effects of Rhodiola on neuroinflammation are promising[4].

So, this handy little herb can help with exercise with the side effect of improving memory and mood. You’ve got to love those side effects!


1. Hung SK, Perry R, Ernst E. The effectiveness and efficacy of Rhodiola rosea L.: A systematic review of randomized clinical trials. Phytomedicine. 2011;18(4):235-244. doi:10.1016/j.phymed.2010.08.014.

2. Amsterdam JD, Panossian AG. Rhodiola rosea L. as a putative botanical antidepressant. Phytomedicine. 2016;23(7):770-783. doi:10.1016/j.phymed.2016.02.009.

3. Morgan L a., Grundmann O. Preclinical and Potential Applications of Common Western Herbal Supplements as Complementary Treatment in Parkinson’s Disease. J Diet Suppl. 2017;0211(January):1-14. doi:10.1080/19390211.2016.1263710.

4. Nabavi SF, Braidy N, Orhan IE, Badiee A, Daglia M, Nabavi SM. Rhodiola rosea L. and Alzheimer’s Disease: From Farm to Pharmacy. Phyther Res. 2016;30(4):532-539. doi:10.1002/ptr.5569.

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