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Table 1 Rhodiola rosea summary of clinical evidence

From: Rhodiola rosea for physical and mental fatigue: a systematic review

R. rosea single ingredient versus placebo
Study ID Design Population Intervention/Control Outcome(s)
Abidov 2004 DB RCT 36 male and female non-smokers between 21–24 y.o.a. Int: 340 mg RR extract containing 30 mg active RR (including rosavin) CRP blood-levels 5 h and 5 days after exercise were less than placebo and control.
    Con(1): placebo  
    Con(2): no intervention; CK levels in blood same across groups after 5 hours, but reduced after 5 days in only R. rosea group.
    Regimen: for 30 days before and 6 days after exhausting physical exercise.  
Walker 2007 DB CO RCT 12 resistance-trained males (19–39 y.o.a.) Int: 1500 mg/day RR for 3 days before exercise test + 1000 mg on day of test Con: placebo; No significant differences between groups in measures of ATP kinetics and exhaustion.
    Regimen: RR followed by 7–14 days washout and same dosing regimen of placebo OR treatment in reverse order  
R. rosea Plus starch versus placebo
De Bock 2004a DB CO RCT 24 healthy physically active male (21.8 ±0.3 y.o.a) and female (20.2 ± 0.3 y.o.a.) students Int: 100 mg RR +250 mg starch RR ‘significantly’ delayed time to exhaustion, peak O2 uptake and CO2 output.
    Con: 350 mg starch  
    Regimen: 2 days of RR, 5 days washout, 2 days placebo  
De Bock 2004b DB CCT   Int: 100 mg RR +250 mg starch significantly higher blood lactate levels after 4-wk intake.
    Con: 350 mg starch  
    Regimen: RR or placebo twice/day over 4 weeks Overall, no change in muscle strength, speed of limb movement, reaction time, sustained attention.
R. rosea plus Cordyceps versus Placebo
Earnest 2004 (US) DB RCT 17 male competitive cyclists Int: loading dose of 6 capsules/day for 4 days (every three capsules contain 1000 mg Cordyceps sinensis + 300 mg RR) then maintenance dose of 3 capusles/day for 11 days No significant difference between or within Tx groups in peak and subpeak exercise variables.
   int: 31.6 ± 2.8 (SE) y.o.a.   
   con: 30.5 ± 2.2 y.o.a.   
    Con: identical placebo  
Colson 2005 (US) DB RCT 8 males between 18–34 y.o.a. Int: loading dose of 6 capsules/day for 6 days (every three capsules contain 1000 mg Cordyceps sinensis + 300 mg RR) then maintenance dose of 3 capsules/day for 7 days After pre-post endurance test no significant difference between intervention and placebo in muscle tissue oxygen saturation
    Con: identical placebo  
Study ID Design Population Intervention/Control Outcome(s)
Olsson 2008 DB RCT 60 male and female (20–55 y.o.a) with fatigue syndrome Int: 4 Verum tablets/day for 28 days (each tablet contain 144 mg Rhodiola extract SHR-5) Significant improvement in fatigue scores (measured by Pines burnout scale), and significant improvement in two of five CCPT II indices
    Con: identical placebo  
   int: 41.0 ± 7.9 y.o.a   
   con: 42.1 ± 8.5 y.o.a.   
Darbinyan 2000 DB CO RCT 56 male and female physicians on night duty Group A: Standardized extract of 170 mg RR for 2 weeks; 2 week Washout; 2 weeks identical placebo. Group B: treatment in reverse order Significant improvement in total fatigue score after two weeks on RR;
   Group A: 25.5 ± 3.8 y.o.a.   
   Group B: 27.3 ± 2.9 y.o.a.   
Shevstov 2003 DB RCT 121 male military cadets 19–21 y.o.a. Int: 41 subjects – 2 capsules (185 mg each) RR. Total antifatigue index scores significantly lower in both RR groups than placebo (p < 0.0001).
    20 subjects – 3 capsules RR  
     “statistically significant beneficial physiological effect in the RR groups versus the placebo group”
    Con: 40 subjects – identical placebo  
    20 subjects – untreated control  
Spasov 2000 DB RCT (pilot study) 40 Male students from India 17–19 y.o.a. Int: 2 x 50 mg RR tablets twice/day for 20 days Non-significant improvement in physical work and mental capacity. Significant improvement in general well-being (p < 0.05), mental fatigue (p < 0.01).
    Con: identical placebo  
Spasov 2000 translated (Russia) RCT 60 male students from India (17–18 y.o.a.) Int: 660 mg/day for 20 days RR; Con(1): placebo; Con(2): nothing Measures of subjective self-evaluation, psychological fatigue, situational anxiety, motivation, precision of motor function, process of excitement and need for rest are significantly different within RR group (<0.05). Mean changes in mental work capacity and neuromotor function are not significantly different between groups.
  1. Abbreviations: RR Rhodiola rosea, DB double-blind, RCT Randomized controlled trial, CCT Controlled clinical trial, CO cross-over, Int Intervention, Con Control, DO Drop-outs, AE Adverse events.