The side effects of using an herb such as rhodiola for everyday health benefits are rare and generally mild. Rhodiola side effects may include irritability, heart palpitations, gastrointestinal discomfort, headaches and insomnia. Rhodiola, also known as rhodiola rosea, golden root, or arctic root, is an herb commonly used in nutritional and herbal supplements. Rhodiola is considered by herbalists to be an adaptogen, which means that it can help the body resist various causes of stress. The efficacy of rhodiola in treating various medical conditions is inconclusive, though several studies have and are being conducted on the plant.
The rhodiola rosea plant seems to grow best in colder climates and at high altitudes. It has been found in Greenland as well as parts of France, Canada, and the United States. The plant normally grows wild and has only been cultivated in Finland, though there have been attempts by Canadian farmers to cultivate rhodiola in order to take advantage of its growing commercial demand. In areas where it grows, its leaves and stems, when young, can be eaten both raw and cooked. Commercial rhodiola preparations are usually in either capsule or extract form. Rhodiola is also often found in blends of adaptogenic herbs, such as ginseng and astragalus.
Both Russian and Scandinavian traditional medicine practitioners have used rhodiola rosea as an all-around tonic, to combat tiredness, and to improve mental function and memory. In recent years, there have been claims that rhodiola can increase athletic and sexual performance and treat depression. There is also some evidence which suggests that rhodiola rosea is an antioxidant, which can help support the immune system and protect against oxygen deprivation. The popularity of rhodiola rosea appears to be helped, in part, by the lack of serious rhodiola side effects.
Because much of the research on rhodiola is not in English, it is difficult to fully measure both the effectiveness of rhodiola at treating specific symptoms and conditions, as well as rhodiola side effects. At this time, studies have generally not pinpointed any specific or common side effects of rhodiola rosea. Some researchers suggest that reported rhodiola side effects may be due to consuming too much. There is also the possibility of the rhodiola interacting with other drugs. For example, there have been some reports of people experiencing drowsiness after taking prescription antidepressants in combination with rhodiola. Lowering the dose of rhodiola may minimize or eliminate these symptoms. There is always the risk of an allergic reaction, which could result in a user experiencing negative side effects. There is also no credible research on the effects of rhodiola consumption, on pregnant women or fetal development