Q. What can you tell me about Rhodiola rosea? I’ve started taking it and found it really helps in dealing with fatigue and anxiety. Increased libido is an unexpected positive side effect, too. What should I know about possible downsides?

A. Rhodiola rosea is a plant native to the Arctic that is used in Chinese, Russian and Scandinavian traditional medicine. It is considered an adaptogen, allowing people to cope with stress and fatigue. A pilot study conducted at UCLA found that Rhodiola extract helped alleviate anxiety (Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, March, 2008).

Rhodiola might cause dizziness or dry mouth. In theory, it might increase the action of medicines or herbs that lower blood sugar or blood pressure and should not be combined with antidepressants. Its safety during pregnancy is unknown, so pregnant women should avoid it.

We did not find any research on the effect Rhodiola has on libido and we doubt it has been well studied. But your report suggests that perhaps it should be.

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  1. Abigail Lumbard
    Reply

    To NR: Thanks to your question I looked more carefully at the label on my bottle of Rhodiola capsules. Also known as Arctic Rose, it comes from the arctic regions of eastern Siberia. It is an adaptogen – increases resistance and adaptation to stress. Helps to build stamina and vitality. sounds good.
    One a day to be taken early in the day “on a relatively empty stomach.” Not recommended for people with bipolar disorder. I’d search for reliable sources of herbal products.

  2. NR
    Reply

    How do I find Rhodiola rosea at retail? Brand name? Stores?

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