Rhodiola rosea (Arctic root, Rose root)

Rhodiola is an adaptogen that raises serotonin and dopamine levels. It improves transport of tryptophan and 5HTP, which the body uses to make serotonin, into the brain and also acts as an MAO inhibitor. MAO inhibitors inhibit the breakdown of serotonin and dopamine. Studies have shown that rhodiola can increase serotonin levels in the brain by up to 30%. This means that it has an antidepressant action, lifting mood and reducing fatigue. It can also improve cognitive (mental) function, attention span, memory and alertness. It may help with post-viral recovery. Those who take antidepressants or antipsychotics should seek medical advice before taking rhodiola as they may interact dangerously. Along with eleutherococcus, it has been extensively studied by the Russians in their search for adaptogens to improve performance and endurance, both physical and mental. Rhodiola increases muscle energy both during and after exercise and so improves recovery time. I think of rhodiola as a slightly stimulating antidepressant whereas hypericum (St John’s Wort) is more of a relaxing antidepressant, so a good routine might be to take rhodiola in the morning and hypericum in the evening.

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