Rhodiola rosea

Rhodiola rosea

The golden root (Rhodiola rosea L., 1753) is a succulent species belonging to the Crassulaceae family.

Systematics –
From a systematic point of view it belongs to:
Eukaryota Domain,
Kingdom Plantae,
Subarign Tracheobionta,
Spermatophyta superdivision,
Magnoliophyta Division,
Magnoliopsida class,
Subclass Rosidae,
Rosales Order,
Crassulaceae family,
Genus Rhodiola,
R. rosea species.
The following terms are synonymous.
– Rhodalia rosea L.;
– Rhodia officinarum Crantz;
– Rhodiola arctica Boriss.;
– Rhodiola elongata (Ledeb.) Fisch. & C.A.Mey.;
– Rhodiola hideoi Nakai;
– Rhodiola iremelica Boriss.;
– Rhodiola krivochizhinii Sipliv.;
– Rhodiola lapponica Gand.;
– Rhodiola maxima Nakai;
– Rhodiola minor Mill.;
– Rhodiola odora Salisb.;
– Rhodiola odorata Lam.;
– Rhodiola roanensis (Britton) Britton;
– Rhodiola rosea f. purpurascens Y.Meng & J.J.Tian;
– Rhodiola rosea subsp. arctica (Boriss.) A. & D.Löve;
– Rhodiola rosea subsp. elongata (Ledeb.) H.Jacobsen;
– Rhodiola rosea subsp. krivochizhinii (Sipliv.) S.B.Gontch.;
– Rhodiola rosea subsp. roanensis (Br.) Jacobsen;
– Rhodiola rosea subsp. rosea;
– Rhodiola rosea subsp. sachalinensis (Boriss.) S.B.Gontch.;
– Rhodiola rosea subsp. tachiroei (Franch. & Sav.) Jacobsen;
– Rhodiola rosea var. alpina Revuschkin;
– Rhodiola rosea var. elongata (Ledeb.) Jacobsen;
– Rhodiola rosea var. microphylla (Fröd.) S.H.Fu;
– Rhodiola rosea var. oblonga (Regel & Tiling) Hara;
– Rhodiola rosea var. scopolii (A.Kern. ex Simonk.) Soó;
– Rhodiola rosea var. subalpina Revuschkin;
– Rhodiola rosea var. tachiroei (Franch. & Sav.) Hara;
– Rhodiola rosea var. tachiroei (Franch. & Sav.) Hara ex Honda;
– Rhodiola rosea var. vulgaris (Regel & Tiling) Hara;
– Rhodiola sachaliensis Boriss., 1939;
– Rhodiola sachalinensis Boriss.;
– Rhodiola scopolii A.Kern.;
– Rhodiola scopolii A.Kern. ex Simonk.;
– Rhodiola sibirica Sweet;
– Rhodiola tachiroei (Franch. & Sav.) Nakai;
– Rhodiola telephioides (Maxim.) S.H.Fu;
– Sedum altaicum G.Don;
– Sedum arcticum (Boriss.) Ronning;
– Sedum caerulans Lév. & Vaniot;
– Sedum capitatum Royle;
– Sedum dioicum Stokes;
– Sedum elongatum Ledeb.;
– Sedum elongatum var. majus Turcz.;
– Sedum elongatum var. minus Turcz.;
– Sedum ledebourii Steud.;
– Sedum rhodiola DC.;
– Sedum rhodiola Desf., 1804;
– Sedum rhodiola Vill.;
– Sedum rhodiola var. crispum Regel & Tiling;
– Sedum rhodiola var. dentatum Regel & Tiling;
– Sedum rhodiola var. elongatum (Ledeb.) Maxim.;
– Sedum rhodiola var. latifolium Regel & Tiling;
– Sedum rhodiola var. lingulatum Regel & Tiling;
– Sedum rhodiola var. linifolia Regel & Schmalh.;
– Sedum rhodiola var. oblongum Regel & Tiling;
– Sedum rhodiola var. pumilum Regel & Tiling;
– Sedum rhodiola var. scopolii (A.Kern. ex Simonk.) Rouy & Camus;
– Sedum rhodiola var. tachiroei Franch. & Sav.;
– Sedum rhodiola var. viride Regel & Tiling;
– Sedum rhodiola var. vulgare Regel & Tiling;
– Sedum roanense Britton;
– Sedum rosea (L.) Scop.;
– Sedum rosea subsp. arctica (Boriss.) Engelskjøn & H.J.Schweitzer;
– Sedum rosea subsp. arcticum (Boriss.) Kozhevn.;
– Sedum rosea subsp. rosea (Linnaeus) Scopoli;
– Sedum rosea var. elongatum (Ledeb.) Praeger;
– Sedum rosea var. microphyllum Fröd.;
– Sedum rosea var. roanense (Britton) A.Berger;
– Sedum rosea var. roanensis (Britton) Berger;
– Sedum rosea var. rosea (Linnaeus) Scopoli;
– Sedum rosea var. tachiroei Franch. & Sav.;
– Sedum rosea var. vulgare (Regel & Tiling) Maxim.;
– Sedum rosea var. vulgare (Regel & Tiling) Maxim. ex Praeger;
– Sedum roseum subsp. arcticum (Boriss.) Kozhevn.;
– Sedum roseum var. leedyi Rosend. & J.W.Moore;
– Sedum roseum var. microphyllum Fröd.;
– Sedum roseum var. roanense (Britton) A.Berger;
– Sedum roseum var. tachiroei Franch. & Sav.;
– Sedum sachalinense (Boriss.) Vorosch.;
– Sedum suboppositum var. telephioides Maxim.;
– Tetradium odoratum Dulac;
– Tolmachevia krivochizhinii (Sipliv.) Á.Löve & D.Löve;
– Tolmatchevia krivochizhinii (Sipliv.) A. & D.Löve.

Etymology –
The term Rhodiola comes from the Greek ῥόδιος rhódios roseo: for the pink color of its inflorescences.
The specific rosea epithet comes from pink rose: in reference to the typical rose scent emanating from the rhizome.

Geographic Distribution and Habitat –
The golden root is a widespread plant in the northern part of the northern hemisphere. It grows naturally in the wild arctic regions of Europe (including Great Britain), Asia and North America.
In Europe it is found in the French Alps, in the Pyrenees and in the Vosges, throughout the Alps, from Italy to Switzerland, in Germany, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Ireland, Iceland.
This species is threatened due to the rapid growth in demand that results in a wild harvest of the plant, on an industrial scale, with a combination of increasing scarcity and lack of regulation that has led to environmental degradation, substitution or adulteration in the market and the illegal collection in protected areas.
Its habitat is that of the high mountains in stony places or pastures. It is common from 900 to 3100 m a.s.l.

Description –
The golden root is a succulent and perennial plant, 20 to 40 cm tall.
It consists of several stems that grow from a short, scaly rhizome.
The root smells of pink, rosy and fleshy rhizomatous, with various secondary or adventitious thin and whitish roots.
The stems are woody and erect, covered with a thin gray-brown bark and evergreen foliage.
Different shoots growing from the same root can reach 5 to 35 centimeters in height.
The fleshy leaves, up to 30 mm long. they are simple acute, with 3-5 denticles on each side and of a blue-green color often with purple hues at the tips.
The flowers, which are grouped in dense terminal corymbs, have 4 sepals and 4 petals, yellow to greenish yellow sometimes with a red tip, 1 to 3.5 millimeters long.
The plant is dioecious, with separate male and female specimens.
The antesis is between June and August.
The fruits are small capsules containing very small lanceolate seeds.

Cultivation –
The golden root is a relatively slow-growing succulent plant in the early stages of development but in full vegetative vigor it gives life to a thick green shrub with a ground cover.
The seeds of Rhodiola have a low germination capacity which tends to cancel out over time, within 8 months at most 2 years.
The plant, in addition to growing in nature, can be grown in both full sun and partial shade. It does not tolerate heat but loves cold even if intense, in fact, to develop at its best, it needs very cold climates to grow and rocky soils and therefore it is a plant suitable for growing mainly in mountain gardens.
From the pedological point of view it is a plant that grows well in rocky soils, therefore a well-worked soil, siliceous mixed with sand, or perlite should be chosen as a cultivation substrate. The optimal substrate must be deep and with a slightly acidic or neutral reaction (pH 5.5-6.5), well manured to the plant. It does not tolerate hard and compact soils at all.
Irrigation is useful but must be suspended during the winter months.
The reproduction of the plant occurs by seed and new specimens identical to the mother can also be obtained by vegetative propagation of branch cuttings or better roots.
Sowing can be done in protected seedbeds in spring and outdoors in autumn at an optimal germination temperature of 18-20 ° C.
It must be borne in mind that the seeds of this plant, as mentioned, have a low germinability therefore before sowing, to resolve their dormancy, it is best to leave them in cold water and then store them at 0 ° C in damp sand for 1 month.
After the indicated time, sowing proceeds by distributing the seeds just under the surface of a mixture of sand and dark peat, always kept humid, at a temperature of 10 ° C and in a sunny position until the sprouts appear.
Subsequently the shoots must be made to strengthen.
When the new plants of Rodiola reach a height of about 15 cm, they can be transferred (the more vigorous ones) in single pots and kept in the greenhouse for the first winter until the following summer, when they can be planted outside. in suitable soil.
The plant can also be propagated by cuttings.
In autumn or early spring you can try to get new plants by dividing the root.

Customs and Traditions –
Rose rhodiola is used in traditional medicine, although to date there is no high-quality clinical evidence of its effectiveness in treating any disease.
In this regard, the United States Food and Drug Administration has issued several warnings to the producers of R. rosea dietary supplements for making false health claims about its safety and efficacy.
In Russia and Scandinavia it has been used for centuries to cope with the cold Siberian climate and stressful life. It is also used to increase physical stamina and resistance to high altitude disease, but the scientific evidence for such benefits is weak. The plant was used in traditional Chinese medicine, where it is called hóng jǐng tiān.
A 2012 European Medicines Agency literature report on R. rosea dry extract stated that “Published clinical studies show significant deficiencies in their quality. Therefore” well established use “cannot be accepted” and added: “Traditional use as an adaptogen ‘for the temporary relief of stress symptoms such as fatigue and a feeling of weakness’ is appropriate for traditional herbal medicines. … Long-standing use and the result of studies clinicians support the plausibility of the use of the herbal preparation mentioned in the proposed indication. ”
According to some reports it has antioxidant properties. It is sometimes used in herbal medicine to relieve mental fatigue, improve mood and increase resistance to stress, but its properties, as mentioned, are still under study.
The mechanism of action of the constituents of Rhodiola rosea (in particular of rosavin which has greater biological activity) directly involves serotonin whose functions seem to be linked to the control of appetite, sleep, behavior, mood, cardiovascular function, memory and ability to d ‘adaptation. The therapeutic effect appears to be determined through the inhibition of the enzyme responsible for the inactivation of serotonin Catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) and the stimulation of the transport of 5-hydroxytryptophan (5HTTP), precursor of serotonin, across the blood brain barrier. The end result leads to an increase in blood serotonin levels.
Pending more in-depth studies on the properties of this plant, the following benefits are reported in its use:
– Improvement of depressive states.
– Stimulation of mental activity, improvement of concentration, clarity and mnemonic potential.
– Improvement of cardiovascular function.
– Weight loss.
– Increased resistance to fatigue.
– Improvement of sexual function.
From a biochemical point of view, this plant contains about 140 chemical compounds, present in the epigeal parts.
Rhodiola roots contain phenols, rosavin, rosin, rosarin, organic acids, terpenoids, phenolic acids and their derivatives, flavonoids, anthraquinones, alkaloids, tyrosol and salidroside.
The chemical composition of the essential oil of the root of R. rosea that grows in different countries varies. For example, rosavin, rosarin and rosin at their maximum concentration according to many tests can only be found in R. rosea of ​​Russian origin; the main components of the essential oil of Rhodiola which grows in Bulgaria are geraniol and mirtenol; in China the main components are geraniol and 1-octanol; and in India the main component is phenethyl alcohol. Cinnamic alcohol was only discovered in the sample from Bulgaria.
Although rosavin, rosarin, rosin and salidroside (and sometimes p-tyrosol, rhodioniside, rhodiline and rosiridine) are among the suspected active ingredients of R. rosea, these compounds are mainly polyphenols. There are no peer-reviewed studies showing that these chemicals have any physiological effects in humans that can prevent or reduce the risk of disease. Although these phytochemicals are typically cited as specific to Rhodiola rosea extracts, rosea and other Rhodiola species contain many other constituent polyphenols, including proanthocyanidins, quercetin, gallic acid, chlorogenic acid, and kaempferol.

Preparation Method –
The therapeutic use of Rhodiola rosea was well known, as mentioned, even in ancient times. It was already used in Ancient Greece, where Rhodiola rosea is also mentioned in a medical treatise (Dioscorides’ “De materia medica”). The Vikings took it as invigorating after intense physical exertion. In China, on the other hand, the entire dynasty of Chinese emperors treated many ailments with Rhodiola rosea. In Tibet, then, the ancient local populations took it to better adapt to the altitude and the harsh climate. In Siberia, in addition to being used to defend against low winter temperatures, there was a popular belief that those who drank its infusion every day would live for more than a century; moreover, the root of Rhodiola rosea was given to the spouses to propitiate the good health of the unborn.
In the 13th century, the Ukrainian prince Galitski, famous for his skills as a great lover, used Rhodiola rosea as the main ingredient in the recipe for a love potion. In the past, all its parts (roots, leaves and flowers) were used to improve psychophysical well-being and its beneficial properties were handed down orally. Nowadays, however, only its root comes from Rhodiola rosea. Also called “golden root” or “arctic root”, it is used above all for invigorating purposes and its therapeutic properties have been scientifically proven, for use in herbal medicine and herbal medicine. Let’s see what are its many beneficial virtues.

Guido Bissanti

– Acta Plantarum – Flora of the Italian Regions.
– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
– Useful Tropical Plants Database.
– Conti F., Abbate G., Alessandrini A., Blasi C. (ed.), 2005. An annotated checklist of the Italian vascular flora, Palombi Editore.
– Pignatti S., 1982. Flora of Italy, Edagricole, Bologna.
– Treben M., 2000. Health from the Lord’s Pharmacy, Advice and experiences with medicinal herbs, Ennsthaler Editore.

Warning: Pharmaceutical applications and alimurgical uses are indicated for informational purposes only, they do not represent in any way a medical prescription; therefore no responsibility is taken for their use for curative, aesthetic or food purposes.

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