Rhodiola rosea is an herb purported to possess adaptogenic and ergogenic properties and has recently been the subject of increased interest. The purpose of this article was to review and summarize recent investigations of the potential performance-enhancing properties of Rhodiola rosea. Such studies have generated equivocal results. Several investigations conducted in Eastern Europe have indicated that Rhodiola rosea ingestion may produce such positive effects as improved cognitive function and reduced mental fatigue. Other research from this region has illustrated enhanced endurance exercise performance in both humans and rats. Studies conducted in Western Europe and in North America have indicated that Rhodiola rosea may possess substantial antioxidant properties but have produced mixed results when attempting to demonstrate an ergogenic effect during exercise in humans.
The authors are with the Exercise Physiology Laboratory, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87131.