Rhodiola rosea: A Versatile Adaptogen

Rhodiola rosea (rose root) belonging to the family Crassulaceae is a popular medicinal plant in Russia, Scandinavia, and many other countries. Extracts of the roots of this plant have been found to favorably affect a number of physiological functions including neurotransmitter levels, central nervous system activity, and cardiovascular function. It is being used to stimulate the nervous system, decrease depression, enhance work performance, eliminate fatigue, and prevent high-altitude sickness. Most of these effects have been ascribed to constituents such as salidroside (rhodioloside), rosavins, and p-tyrosol. It has also been found to be a strong antioxidant and anticarcinogen due to the presence of several phenolic compounds. Adaptogens are plant extracts that allow an organism to counteract adverse physical, chemical, and biological stressors by generating nonspecific resistance. Adaptogens are known to increase the availability of energy during the day, reduce stressed feelings, increase endurance, and increase mental alertness. This multipurpose medicinal plant (R. rosea), with adaptogenic properties that increase the body’s nonspecific resistance and normalize functions, has been traditionally grown and used in Russia and Mongolia. Due to increasing consumer demands toward natural health products and the growing interests in the secondary metabolites of plants and their application in biotechnology and therapy, much focus has been put on the rose root and its medical properties. The rose root imparts normalizing influences on adverse physical, chemical, and biological disturbances but is otherwise innocuous. In India, the plant has been growing wild in the high altitudes of the Himalayas. The Defence Research and Development Organization in India has taken on the responsibilities of its conservation, as well as the development of multiple management practices and the development of health foods, supplements, and nutraceuticals in India.