Review highlights sports nutrition potential for Rhodiola

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Rhodiola rosea    Image © LukasLt / Getty Images
Rhodiola rosea Image © LukasLt / Getty Images

Related tags Rhodiola rosea Sports nutrition exercise performance athletes

Rhodiola rosea, an adaptogenic herb most associated with stress management and cognitive function, also has interesting potential for sports nutrition, says a new systematic review published in Frontiers in Nutrition.

Demand for products formulated with Rhodiola rosea​ has been increasing, with forms of the herb in trade including dry extracts in solid dosage forms such as capsules and tablets, liquid extracts, cut, dried rhizome and root, and powdered rhizome and root.

Rhodiola is in the number 40 best-selling herbal dietary supplement in the mass channels in 2020, with sales of $8,433,070 (a decline of 4.3% from 2019), according to a report in Herbalgram 131​. For an extensive review of R. rosea​ in HerbalGram​ 56, please click HERE​.

The traditional primary health uses of the herb include stress, mental and physical fatigue, depression, and to boost energy.

German scientists recently reported that the R. rosea​ extracts may also improve the symptoms of ‘burnout’​, with considerable effects already being detectable after the first week (Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment,​ Vol. 13, pp. 889–898).

A new systematic review by scientists from Fujian University of Traditional Chinese Medicine and The Affiliated Hospital of Guangzhou University of Chinese Medicine in China indicates the herb may also have positive effects on “athletic ability and sports performance, and no obvious adverse reactions were reported”​.

Ten different studies were assessed for this review, and while there was significant heterogeneity among the studies, the overall conclusion was: “This review demonstrates clearly that [​Rhodiola rosea] supplementation has the potential to improve sport and exercise performance through a reduction in oxidative stress, muscle pain and injury, improved skeletal muscle damage and muscle recovery during training, as well as an increase in athletic explosive power,” ​stated the reviewers

“With the gradual improvement in quality of life and the increasing demand for sports and wellness drugs, RR is expected to become an effective supplement.”


The researchers noted that many of the studies performed with Rhodiola used commercially available preparations, and the quality and consistency of these can be affected by a number of variables, including the location and timing of harvest, the extraction methods used, and the presence or absence of adulterants.

They also recommended that high-performance liquid chromatography be used for the quality control of Rhodiola rosea​ (RR) products.

“Studies of synthetic pharmaceuticals are easier to evaluate because only one substance is investigated,” ​they stated. “In contrast, studies of herbs are more challenging because highly complex herbs (e.g., RR) contain dozens of bioactive constituents with polyvalent effects.

“Marker compounds are insufficient to assure purity because they can now be synthesized and added to increase their concentration to meet standardization requirements. liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry pseudotargeted analysis produces a profile of constituents that helps with identification. For that matter, DNA testing of root stock used to produce products would help assure purity,” ​they added.

Source: Frontiers in Nutrition
Published online, doi: 10.3389/fnut.2022.856287
“Effects of Rhodiola Rosea Supplementation on Exercise and Sport: A Systematic Review”
Authors: Y. Lu et al.


Related topics Research

Related news

Follow us


View more