Rhodiola Rosea Side Effects

also known as Artic root, golden root, rose wort and roseroot

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While rhodiola is considered to be both safe and non-addictive, side effects including anxiety, agitation, nausea, hypersalivation, restlessness, and insomnia have been reported. These side effects are essentially those that result when ingesting any mild stimulant. Indeed, the side effects typically occur when taking too high a dose (such as doubling or tripling a dose before an athletic event or exam) or when combining rhodiola with other stimulants, such as caffeinated beverages. Rapid heartbeat leading to heart palpitations could occur in the event of an extremely high dose or higher sensitivity to rhodiola. Feelings of jitteriness can result if taken during a spike in one's blood sugar, so it is important to take rhodiola on an empty stomach or followed by a non-sugary meal (no candy or sweets!) Finally, it is not advisable to take rhodiola right before bed, as it may interfere with sleep. Generally, the morning or early afternoon before either breakfast or lunch is considered the ideal time to take rhodiola rosea extract.

To avoid the side effects mentioned above, it is important to follow dosage recommendations exactly (typically a minimum of 100 mg daily and no more than 600 mg per day). rhodiola rosea plant imageThis is equivalent to 1-2 capsules or tablets per day. Dr. Patricia Gerbarg confirms this, stating that "most people need to start on a small dose of 100 mg and increase to a maximumof 400 mg (200 mg 30 minutes before breakfast plus 200 mg 30 minutes before lunch) over a period of 1-2 weeks." In other words, starting rhodiola at a higher dose tends to result in greater side effects because the body has not had time to become accustomed to the herb. However, some people display greater sensitivity to rhodiola and thus cannot tolerate a daily dose of more than 50-100 mg. Moreover, some people may require as high a dose as 600 mg per day. Its reputation for both fighting fatigue (stimulant) and relieving stress (relaxant) is reflected in the tendency of rhodiola to have a stimulating effect in low doses and a sedating effect in high doses. Although rhodiola is considered a low-toxicity herb--levels of toxicity are on average five times lower than those of panax ginseng, which is itself a low-toxicity herb-it can obviously endanger one's health when taken to excess.

It is also important that the formulation of the rhodiola rosea extract comply with the "standard" concentration of 3% rosavins (including) and 0.8-1% salidroside. This concentration is determined to be the optimum concentration because the naturally occurring ratio of these two compounds is approximately 3:1. If purchasing fresh or dried rhodiola root (i.e. not in capsule or extract form), the concentration of rosavins and salidrosides are likely to be similar to (though perhaps not exactly the same as) commercial rhodiola extract. As with any dietary supplement, it is important to read the product label. One should also consult with one's health care provider before beginning treatment with rhodiola or if one is already taking other supplements or medications.

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