Rhodiola rosea (commonly golden root, rose root, roseroot, Aaron's rod, arctic root, king's crown, lignum rhodium, orpin rose) is a plant in the Crassulaceae family that grows in cold regions of the world. These include much of the Arctic, the mountains of Central Asia, scattered in eastern North America from Baffin Island to the mountains of North Carolina, and mountainous parts of Europe, such as the Alps, Pyrenees, and Carpathian Mountains, Scandinavia, Iceland, Great Britain and Ireland. The perennial plant grows in areas up to 2280 meters elevation. Several shoots grow from the same thick root. Shoots may reach 5 to 35 cm in height. Rhodiola rosea is dioecious – having separate female and male plants.
Supporters of alternative medicine have made a number of claims that rhodiola rosea treats a wide variety of medical conditions - anywhere from fatigue to cancer - none of which have ever been scientifically demonstrated to be true. However, it has never been conclusively shown to be effective in treating any medical condition, and as a result, it is not approved by the FDA to cure, treat, or prevent any disease. In fact, the FDA has forcibly removed some products containing rhodiola rosea from the market due to false claims that it treats cancer, depression, anxiety, influenza, the common cold, bacterial infections, and migraines.
In Russia and Scandinavia, R. rosea has been used for centuries to cope with the cold Siberian climate and stressful life. Such effects were provided with evidence in laboratory models of stress using the nematode C. elegans, and in rats in which Rhodiola effectively prevented stress-induced changes in appetite, physical activity, weight gain and the estrus cycle.
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The aerial portion is consumed as food in some parts of the world, sometimes added to salads  .
Phytochemicals and potential health effects
Rhodiola rosea contains a variety of compounds that may contribute to its effects, including the class of rosavins that includes rosavin, rosarin, and rosin. Several studies have suggested that the most active components are likely to be rhodioloside and tyrosol, with other components being inactive when administered alone, but showing synergistic effects when a fixed combination of rhodioloside, rosavin, rosarin and rosin was used. Authentication, as well as potency, of Rhodiola rosea crude material and standardized extracts thereof are carried out with validated high-performance liquid chromatography analyses to verify the content of the marker constituents salidroside, rosarin, rosavin, rosin and rosiridin.
Although rosavin, rosarin, rosin and salidroside (and sometimes p-tyrosol, rhodioniside, rhodiolin and rosiridin) are among suspected active ingredients of Rhodiola rosea, these compounds are mostly polyphenols. There is no evidence that these chemicals have any physiological effect in humans that could prevent or reduce risk of disease.
Although these phytochemicals are typically mentioned as specific to Rhodiola extracts, there are many other constituent phenolic antioxidants, including proanthocyanidins, quercetin, gallic acid, chlorogenic acid and kaempferol.
A 2007 clinical trial from Armenia showed significant effect for a Rhodiola extract in doses of 340–680 mg per day in male and female patients from 18 to 70 years old with mild to moderate depression. No side effects were demonstrated at these doses Another study also found antidepressant properties, possibly via the plant's inhibition of MAO-A and MAO-B.
Rhodiola rosea extract exerts an antifatigue effect that increases mental performance, particularly the ability to concentrate in healthy subjects and burnout patients with fatigue syndrome. Rhodiola significantly reduced symptoms of fatigue and improved attention after four weeks of repeated administration. Studies on whether Rhodiola improves physical performance have been inconclusive, with some studies showing some benefit, while others show no significant difference.
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