Natural Depression Remedies: Rhodiola Benefits Mild to Moderate Depression

Rhodiola provides an effective option for those looking for natural depression remedies.

Rhodiola rosea is a plant that grows at high altitudes in Arctic and coastal regions.

© Rezkrr |

Rhodiola rosea, which is commonly called golden root, rose root, or Arctic root, is a plant that grows at high altitudes in Arctic and coastal regions. In traditional medicine, it has been used for centuries to increase mental and physical performance.[1] Today, rhodiola provides an effective option for those looking for natural depression remedies. Rhodiola benefits the condition by easing symptoms and helping to protect the brain.

The link between rhodiola and depression treatment

Current research shows that this herbal remedy is a stimulant, which helps to treat stress, anxiety, fatigue, and depression. Rhodiola benefits nervous system disorders like depression because it has the ability to stimulate and affect the levels of important neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine in numerous ways.[1] 

  • Rhodiola inhibits monoamine oxidases (MAOs), which regulate the degradation of serotonin. Inhibition of MAO keeps serotonin levels high, which can help to treat symptoms of depression (serotonin is the main neurotransmitter associated with depression). MAO inhibitors, in fact, are often used as pharmaceutical treatments for depression. Laboratory studies show that extracts from rhodiola are particularly effective at doing that, which allows it to act as a natural antidepressant.[2]
  • Rhodiola also appears to protect the brain, particularly the hippocampus, in animal models. The hippocampus is closely tied with serotonin activity and is often affected in depression. In one study, the brains of rats were subject to injury to mimic a depressive state, and then they were given either rhodiola or placebo. The number of hippocampal neurons was restored to healthy, normal levels in those given rhodiola extract, while those given placebo had significantly fewer neurons than normal.[3]

Is rhodiola effective at treating depression in humans?

A study in 2007 found that 340 or 680 mg of rhodiola per day for six weeks significantly improved depressive symptoms, insomnia, emotional instability, and more. Patients receiving placebo saw no benefit.[4]

Another study from 2015 compared the effects of rhodiola to sertraline, an antidepressant pharmaceutical drug. Rhodiola showed modest antidepressant effects in people with mild to moderate depression; taking 340 mg of rhodiola increased the odds of improvement in symptoms by 1.4 times, while taking sertraline increase the odds of improvement by 1.9 times. Although it performed slightly worse than sertraline, it was much better tolerated and presented with fewer side effects than the drug, making it a viable alternative for treatment.[5]


Consider adding rhodiola to your list of natural depression remedies to try. The research suggests that 340 to 680 mg of rhodiola benefits symptoms of depression.

Share your experience

Have you ever used rhodiola for depression or another condition? Has it been effective for you? Share your experience with this herbal remedy in the comments section below.

[1] Holist Nurs Pract. 2014 May-Jun;28(3):217-21.

[2] J Ethnopharmacol. 2009 Mar 18;122(2):397-401.

[3] Phytomedicine. 2009 Sep;16(9):830-8.

[4] Nord J Psychiatry. 2007;61(5):343-8.

[5] Phytomedicine. 2015 Mar 15;22(3):394-9.

As a service to our readers, University Health News offers a vast archive of free digital content. Please note the date published or last update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

UHN Staff

University Health News is produced by the award-winning editors and authors of Belvoir Media Group’s Health & Wellness Division. Headquartered in Norwalk, Conn., with editorial offices in Florida, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, … Read More

View all posts by UHN Staff

Comments Comments Policy

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Enter Your Login Credentials
This setting should only be used on your home or work computer.