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The Skinny on Rhodiola

In a recent Runner's World article, Jennifer Beals (actress and avid runner) said, "Rhodiola has been really helpful in terms of healing. . . . I have since discovered a lot of runners and a lot of athletes use it because it's an anti-inflammatory."


I had never heard of this supplement, but have since learned that it comes from a plant with yellow flowers and bears the full name Rhodiola rosea. It's also called arctic root since it grows at high altitudes in cold regions. It's been used in traditional medicine in Russia and the Scandinavian countries for centuries to treat a whole slew of issues including fatigue, poor attention span, migraines, and decreased memory. It may also prevent depression, enhance the immune system, and increase sexual energy. Fruit flies taking Rhodiola in a study lived 10 percent longer than fruit flies that did not, and it had anticancer effects on rats.

Athletes take Rhodiola to increase their physical endurance, combat anxiety when in stressful situations (such as a competition), and for its anti-inflammatory properties.

Rhodiola sounds like some miracle plant, but it also has some negative side effects. To hear about them read more.

Taking Rhodiola may cause headaches, an upset stomach, drowsiness, irritability, and difficulty sleeping. It's not recommended for people with bipolar disorder.

The roots of this herb are dried and sold on their own, as a powder, as a tincture, or in capsule form. Like many herbal supplements, there aren't a ton of scientific studies about Rhodiola. That's not to say it doesn't help people with various ailments and issues, but it should be taken with caution.

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