Rhodiola rosea (Golden
Root, Arctic Root, or Roseroot) | Vinpocetine | Ginkgo biloba | Ginseng (Panax, Korean) | Maca (Lepidium peruvianum myenii)
Of the 30 species in the Rhodiola genus, R.
rosea has been the most extensively studied. The
following discussion draws on decades of Soviet research (Saratikov and Krasnov 1987), based on translations by Zakir Ramazanov
(personal written communication, July 2001). (For reviews, see Brown and Gerbarg 2002; Brown et al. 2004, 2009; Petkov et al. 1986). Root extracts of R. rosea have been approved for medicinal uses in the Russian pharmacopoeia since
the 1960s. Soviet investigators observed therapeutic effects (improvements
in energy, alertness, cognitive function, and memory) in posttraumatic
and vascular brain lesions, especially in early postinjury stages
(Saratikov and Krasnov 1987). Rhodiola species contain
many compounds that scavenge superoxide and hydroxyl radicals (Furmanowa et al. 1998). In animal studies, R. rosea increased
and maintained higher levels of ATP and creatine in brain, muscle,
liver, and blood (Kurkin and Zapesochnaya 1986; Saratikov and Krasnov 1987). It also increased brain norepinephrine, DA,
and 5-HT and stimulated nicotine cholinergic systems (Petkov et al. 1986). In healthy individuals, R. rosea enhanced
intellectual work capacity, abstract thinking, accuracy on tedious
tasks, and reaction time (see Table 39–7). In
a double-blind, placebo-controlled study of 60 first-year college
students under stress, those given low-dose R. rosea (100
mg/day) showed significant improvement in mental fatigue,
psychomotor function, and overall well-being (self-evaluation) (Spasov et al. 2000). We have observed that in patients with brain
injury, R. rosea has a mild cognitive
stimulant effect while it is also emotionally calming. No significant
drug interactions have been reported. In our experience, R.
rosea, particularly when combined with Eleutherococcus
senticosus, Schizandra chinensis, Panax ginseng, Ginkgo biloba, Withania somnifera (Ashwaganda),
and/or piracetam, can be beneficial for memory and cognition
in TBI, age-associated memory impairment, stroke, and dementia patients.
Patients often report improved energy, mental clarity, and memory.
Response takes 1–12 weeks. Highly anxious patients may
not tolerate higher doses because the activating effects sometimes
exacerbate anxiety. R. rosea should be
given 20 minutes before breakfast and lunch, starting with 150 mg/day
and increasing by 150 mg every 3–7 days up to a maximum of
300 mg bid. Elderly, medically ill, or anxious patients should start
by taking one-fourth to one-half of a capsule (37–75 mg)
per day dissolved in tea or juice and increased slowly. We use R.
rosea in a wide range of disorders of memory, cognition,
and fatigue with generally good results. Combining treatments that
target multiple aspects of neuronal repair can significantly improve