Biology, Biomedical

Don’t buy this great supplement. (Rhodiola rosea)

Rhodiola rosea is a flowering plant. It grows naturally in the wild Arctic regions of Europe, Asia and North America and it likes cold weather. Many have used it traditionally as a treatment for disorders like anxiety and depression and more recently fatigue and even neurodegenerative diseases.

Studies have found it to have adaptogenic properties, meaning it can restore homeostasis in several aspects of health. A few compounds are responsible for those health benefits. The phenylpropanoids rosavin and rosarin are unique to the plant and thought to give it its unique properties. Studies have indeed show that those compounds can help with mental and physical fatigue in muscles and the brain. It works by interfering with cellular pathways in certain tissues. The extract of the plant help reduce apoptosis caused by TNF and even improved the performance of immune cells.

And yes, those results are all significant, but significant doesn’t always mean useful. Significant results when not controlled with placebo groups and a large sample size with controlled conditions and many variables don’t really matter. And that’s the problem. All those studies keep ending to the same conclusion, more studies need to be done, and some that actually have meaning. Because even if there are small improvements i can’t tell if the placebo effect causes them. Some proteins of the plant have indeed demonstrated their potential antioxidant effects. And while all that data shows a potential for this plant in medicine, the results are not that promising for now, because they lack quality and quantity. In the future we may discover that this drug makes you live longer or something but for now we have to say that we simply don’t know.

There are many supplements in the market that claim to do many things. Most of them while they indeed work, their effects are small and while they offer benefits they are not treatments or preventive measures for any disease. Some work in great ways and will improve your health especially in the long term, but a drug is a drug and a disease is a disease. A supplement is just not as effective. Many people forget that and believe that supplements and diets will protect them from disease but the truth is that modern medicine is far superior in treating any issues that may occur with our bodies. And yes there are side effects, but the same is true for supplements and diets. Two great examples are the raw vegan diets that are very dangerous to pregnant women and children, and thymoquinone, a natural substance that while incredibly useful, can be toxic for the kidneys in large doses. As with everything in life there needs to be a balance.

Think if the positive side though, in the past few years we have found many new plant derived compounds that have the potential to improve human health. That, proven by tons of great studies. We have new spices with amazing antioxidant effects, and supplements from plants and seeds that can indeed prevent cancer in the long term. It is early indeed for all those compounds and that’s why they remain supplements instead of actual drugs. But they are effective, we are just not sure yet if they are effective and safe enough for patients, or if they are only useful as preventive measures.

Here on Qul Mind we frequently cover many of those supplements, spices and natural compounds that you can easily add to your diet every day to improve your health. We recently saw that coffee and nuts do improve your health significantly. Wine, grapes and even some drugs like ayahuasca and weed can improve certain conditions or health in general. Then there are more extreme pills like NAD+, and nootropics that help you be smarter and live longer. Spices and superfoods like curcumin, garcinia cambogia and others have shown great health benefits in tons of quality studies too. Even vitamin B3 has proven to be a great supplement depending on your condition and health and can offer a lot of benefit even in small amounts (depending on your diet and deficiency).

This is why i am not recommending this one. While here we do cover a lot of supplements and future drugs, etc. this one seems unfinished, unstudied. And while it is exciting to try new things, when it comes to your health you should be careful. There are some companies that would sell you anything that a bad study said it’s good. Not all studies are equal and neither are supplements. Even if they are you and your doctor can only know what’s best for you. A blood test might show you that, like me, you need vitamin D supplements or B12 or something. Compounds from plants are a bit more complicated and you should do your individual research on them. Here we have investigated plenty of them and you should read about them using the links from the previous paragraph. But for Rhodiola rosea i would say don’t risk it yet.

But this is only my opinion based on the sources i studied. Some of them i have linked in the sources below. If you like my articles and want more science and tech news please follow Qul Mind on Facebook and Twitter.

Sources: Rhodiola rosea in Subjects with Prolonged or Chronic Fatigue Symptoms: Results of an Open-Label Clinical Trial

Multicenter, open-label, exploratory clinical trial with Rhodiola rosea extract in patients suffering from burnout symptoms

Rhodiola rosea Improves Lifespan, Locomotion, and Neurodegeneration in a Drosophila melanogaster Model of Huntington’s Disease

Rhodiola rosea L.: an Herb with Anti-Stress, Anti-Aging, and Immunostimulating Properties for Cancer Chemoprevention

Altered expression of TRAIL on mouse T cells via ERK phosphorylation by Rhodiola rosea L. and its marker compounds

Antioxidant and hepatoprotective effects of purified Rhodiola rosea polysaccharides

Image: By Badagnani – Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3708339

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