Does Rhodiola Help With Weight Loss?

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    Many people are turning to rhodiola for its ability to boost energy, improve focus, reduce stress, and enhance physical performance.

    Rhodiola is a powerful, ancient herb that has become popular due to its many mental and physical health benefits. This ancient herb can help with reducing occasional stress, boosting energy, and even improving focus. Many people are turning to rhodiola as an adaptogen for everyday support. Adaptogens are herbs that can help the body ‘adapt’ to stressors. In this article, we will be discussing what exactly rhodiola is and what it can help with.

    What is Rhodiola Rosea?

    Rhodiola rosea is a small plant with yellow flowers that has adaptogenic properties. Adaptogens are plants and mushrooms that help your body better respond to temporary stress and promote overall well-being.

    Rhodiola is often referred to as “golden root” because of its color, or “roseroot” because of the rose-like fragrance it gives off when cut. It's native to cold climates such as the arctic and mountainous regions of Europe and Asia. A flowering plant, rhodiola has been used for centuries for its ability to increase resistance against chemical, biological, and physical stressors. Today, many people are turning to rhodiola because of its wide range of health benefits.

    Can Rhodiola Rosea Help With Weight Loss?

    Rhodiola does not directly help with weight loss. The main factors that can help promote healthy weight management include lifestyle changes such as adequate nutrition, exercise, sleep, stress management, and hydration. Rhodiola may play a role in helping to manage these lifestyle changes, but it will not directly assist with weight loss. Always talk to your doctor about any health-related concerns to figure out the best plan moving forward.

    So, let’s examine a few of the health benefits that rhodiola has been shown to help with.

    Increased energy and athletic performance

    Recent studies have found that rhodiola can help athletes increase their endurance and exercise capacity. It increases oxygen uptake in muscles, allowing them to work harder and longer without becoming fatigued. Rhodiola also appears to reduce lactic acid in both muscle tissues, making it beneficial for managing soreness after exercise. Additionally, this herb is believed to boost both physical stamina and cognitive focus.

    In addition to providing enhanced energy levels during exercise or competition, rhodiola can also be used as a natural supplement before workouts to prepare the body for peak performance.

    Reduces stress

    In the typical, fast-paced society that we live in today, it is normal to experience occasional stress. Fortunately, studies have found that this powerful herb has adaptogenic properties, meaning it helps the body cope with occasional stress. Recent studies have suggested that taking rhodiola may relieve occasional stress and promote feelings of well-being.* More research should be conducted to confirm the results of these studies, but the initial test results set a positive framework for research to come.

    May help improve fat burning

    Rhodiola does not improve fat burning or loss. Initial research in this area conducted on animals has shown potential, although it remains to be seen how these findings will generalize to humans.

    However, rhodiola supplements may help manage your body’s response to stress from time to time, which can help improve digestion and metabolism. Stress levels are known to diminish the body’s ability to burn energy as efficiently, thus impacting metabolism.

    Improves focus

    Rhodiola is a powerful herb with many clinical studies touting its effects on concentration and cognitive function.* While the clinical data remain mixed, the majority ofstudies show positive results for rhodiola when compared to a placebo. Studies have shown that the active ingredients in rhodiola can help enhance alertness, manage fatigue, and improve concentration.

    Research has shown that rhodiola may boost levels of key neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin in the brain, helping to create a better balance between stimulation and relaxation. This allows people to stay focused longer while also improving their moods, which in turn aids the carrying out of concentration-intensive tasks. This study shows that rhodiola can promote energy levels while enhancing performance on work-related tasks.

    Additionally, research suggests that rhodiola may enhance memory formation and recall speeds, which can further help with focus. By taking rhodiola regularly you can experience boosted energy levels throughout your day, allowing you to maintain focus where otherwise it might fall off

    Decreases cortisol levels

    More recently, rhodiola has become popular for its ability to manage serum cortisol levels. Cortisol is a hormone that is naturally produced in the body. It is commonly known as the stress hormone, and cortisol balance is key to maintaining optimal health as cortisol levels can be beneficial in small amounts.

    In situations of increased stress, cortisol levels are often elevated. This can potentially lead to temporary sleep disturbances, fatigue, and digestive issues.

    Research also suggests that rhodiola can manage cortisol levels associated with temporary or situational stress. This is achieved due to the presence of rosavins and salidroside compounds which act on adrenal receptors in order to regulate cortisol production.

    In a double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial, sixty people suffering from stress-related fatigue were given 576 mg of rhodiola or a placebo for twenty days. The test showed that rhodiola lowers cortisol response to awakening stress. Another double-blind placebo-controlled pilot study found that participants supplementing with rhodiola had improvements in mental fatigue and neuro-motor tests.

    Additionally, rhodiola may help protect against oxidative stress by providing antioxidants that scavenge free radicals throughout the body.

    Potential Side Effects

    While research suggests that rhodiola has many positive health benefits when used in moderation, it may come with some potential side effects.

    The most common side effect reported from taking rhodiola is overstimulation or feeling overly energized. This typically only occurs if you take rhodiola with other adaptogens at the same time, so we recommend taking one adaptogen at a time.


    Despite rhodiola’s long-standing usage, there is still some debate about what dosage of rhodiola is most effective. Some studies suggest that doses as low as 200 mg may be effective, while other research on the effects of rhodiola on various physical and mental health conditions, such as fatigue and cognitive function, have shown that higher doses up to 600 mg could provide more significant benefits. It is always a good idea to speak with your healthcare provider to best determine which dosage is right for you.

    The Bottom Line

    Rhodiola is a natural supplement that has been used for centuries to help people cope with occasional stress and boost performance. It is found in Eastern Europe and Asia, and it grows at high elevations in cold climates. Rhodiola is most commonly used as an adaptogen, meaning it helps the body adapt to physical, environmental, and mental stressors.

    Studies have revealed that rhodiola can improve athletic performance by increasing energy levels, managing fatigue, improving focus, and even increasing muscle strength. Additionally, rhodiola helps support healthy cortisol levels significantly in response to brief elevations due to physical or psychological stress. This allows the body to better cope with stressors while providing more energy for physical activities such as exercise or sports. Lastly, many people find that taking rhodiola supplements contain adaptogenic properties which can help enhance overall well-being.

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    Dr. Carla Montrond Correia ND, CNS
    Medical Content Manager
    Dr. Montrond-Correia is a licensed naturopathic physician and a certified nutrition specialist (CNS). She holds degrees from University of Bridgeport, Georgetown University, and University of Saint Joseph, and supplemented her education with internships in the health and wellness space. She's focused on research, herbal medicine, nutrigenomics, and integrative and functional medicine. She makes time for exercise, artistic activities, and enjoying delicious food.
    Jordana Tobelem, RD
    Freelance Contributor
    Jordana Tobelem is a Registered Dietitian who enjoys helping others become the best versions of themselves through proper nutrition education. Jordana is passionate about promoting lifestyle changes through nutrition, physical activity, and behavior to create a superior quality of life. She uses her experience in the clinical field of dietetics to provide consulting services to an array of healthcare brands and companies. Jordana loves finding the most current research in nutrition to create meaningful content to share with her clients. Jordana has been a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics since 2018 and also holds certifications in both Personal Training and Health Coaching.