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Alternative Medicine

Rhodiola rosea: Nature’s antidepressant

 

You could make the claim that 64-year-old Juliette Bergman is unlucky. 

She was working in one of the World Trade Center towers in 1993 when it was first bombed, and again on September 11, 2001. Both times she lived to tell the tale, but as a result of severe trauma, she suffered from PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) and depression.

For eight years, Juliette was on anti-depressant drugs. She gained over 35 pounds and was unable to regain a happier mood.  In a search for something better, she met Dr. Patrica Gerbarg and Dr. Richard Brown, two psychiatrists practicing in New York City.  Instead of putting Juliette on another drug, they had her try the Siberian herb, Rhodiola rosea.

For Juliette, that’s when things started to turn around.

Rhodiola rosea, also known as Golden Root or Arctic Root, derives from Siberia and Northwestern China. I have studied the herb in both places, have seen it harvested in the wild, and  have also taken an extract of this herb regularly for years, to ward off fatigue from a heavy travel schedule.  Found on the training tables of athletes across northern Asia, Rhodiola rosea is considered an adaptogen – an agent that allows a person to adapt to both physical and mental stress, while improving energy, endurance and stamina.

For Juliette, Rhodiola rosea did just that. She went from fatigued to energized, and her depression lifted, just from taking daily doses of the safe, non-toxic herb. This type of result is common with Rhodiola, whose popularity grows steadily year after year, as people experience its significant vitality-enhancing effects.

Many studies support what even the ancient Chinese emperors knew - that Rhodiola rosea gives a terrific lift to body and mind. In one study of people with stress-related fatigue conducted in Sweden, the Rhodiola  exerted an anti-fatigue effect, increased mental performance, decreased the stress hormone cortisol in the blood, and reduced stress overall.

In another study reported in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, Rhodiola rosea caused improvement in patients with generalized anxiety disorder. Yet another study of depressed people in Armenia showed significant improvement in overall mood as a result of taking Rhodiola rosea extract.

Over 300 human studies on Rhodiola rosea show that the plant has anti-stress, anti-anxiety, and anti-depressant properties, and that taking the extract of the root produces no significant negative effects. This is in sharp contrast to drugs for the same purposes, which typically cause sleep disorders, digestive upset, sexual dysfunction and a variety of mood disorders.

Unlike many other herbs, Rhodiola rosea produces a palpable experience. When you take a preparation of this plant, you feel it. Typically users report enhanced energy, improved mood, greatly reduced stress, better sleep, and improved sexual vitality. These effects are largely due to a novel group of compounds in the root known as rosavins. Extensively well-studied, the rosavins act in the brain in a variety of ways.

Overall, Rhodiola rosea demonstrates greater effectiveness and safety than pharmaceutical drugs for anxiety, depression and fatigue. So why don’t more doctors recommend Rhodiola to their patients? They don’t know about it. For many medical doctors, the herbal world is still a dark green jungle of uncertainty. Yet for brave pioneers like Brown and Gerbarg, Rhodiola therapy is the path of the future. For a patient like Juliette, the proof of Rhodiola is in the way it has transformed her life - alleviating her depression, reinvigorating her, and helping her to move past very serious trauma.

If you want to experience the delightful invigorating and mood-enhancing effects of Rhodiola rosea for yourself, try either Rhodiola Energy by Enzymatic Therapy, or Rhodiola Force 300 by New Chapter.  Both are widely available.

Chris Kilham is a medicine hunter who researches natural remedies all over the world, from the Amazon to Siberia. He teaches ethnobotany at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he is Explorer In Residence. Chris advises herbal, cosmetic and pharmaceutical companies and is a regular guest on radio and TV programs worldwide.  Chris is the author of 14 books, including Hot Plants, Tales from the Medicine Trail, Kava: Medicine Hunting in Paradise, The Whole Food Bible, Psyche Delicacies, and the international best-selling yoga book, The Five Tibetans. Richard Branson features Chris in his new book, Screw Business as Usual. His field research is largely sponsored by Naturex of Avignon, France. Read more at www.MedicineHunter.com.

Chris Kilham is a medicine hunter who researches natural remedies all over the world, from the Amazon to Siberia. He teaches ethnobotany at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he is Explorer In Residence. Chris advises herbal, cosmetic and pharmaceutical companies and is a regular guest on radio and TV programs worldwide. His field research is largely sponsored by Naturex of Avignon, France. Read more at MedicineHunter.com.