Power Herbs of Siberia
Rhodiola Rosea in Northern China

Click image (above) to watch Healing Foods in China on Fox News Health. Wander through the hills of Northern China with The Medicine Hunter, on an expedition to secure sustainable Rhodiola trade with the native Weger people.

The Altay Region of Central Siberia is a majestic territory of mountains, rushing rivers, and lakes. The area is also home to two energy-enhancing, stress-busting power herbs, Rhodiola rosea and Rhaponticum carthamoides. Both are well studied adaptogens, helping to defend the body against stress and disease, and protecting overall health and well-being. Anti-stress, fatigue-fighting, stamina-promoting and strength building, Rhodiola and Rhaponticum are companion plants, and the two most popular botanicals in all of Siberia. Both are also widely used for sexual enhancement for both men and women.

In the company of two Russian herbal traders named Marat and Vadim, I headed off to Kuba, a small and scenic hamlet along the swift-running Katun river, our base of operations as we researched regional plants. Along the road, we saw small stands where Altay people sold various herbal teas and preparations. Among them, one of the most popular of all preparations was Rhodiola and Rhaponticum; roots, cut and and placed in a bottle, infused with vodka to extract and preserve them. I asked a woodsman about the drink. “Everybody I know uses these plants regularly,” he told me. “They keep us alive. The roots makes you very strong.” I sampled a small mouthful of the drink, and felt an immediate bracing effect. The woodsman pointed at the bottle. “And they are very good for sex.”

Siberia’s most popular herbal healer, Uri Vladimirovich has the kind eyes of a man who has spend his life engaged in good works which benefit others. “My gramdmother lived deep in the taiga, the forest,” Uri explained. “She knew all the plants in her area, and she understood how to use them for healing. So when I was a young boy, I learned a lot from her. That was how I started.” The author of several books on Siberian medicinal herbs, Uri was quite definitive when I inquied about Rhodiola rosea and Rhaponticum carthamoides. “Those two herbs are the most important. They give great strength, and help you to regain energy. They also help to fight stress. In this way they build very good health. If you are sick, Rhodiola and Rhaponticum will help you to recover.”

Journey To The Source

On an overcast and chilly morning, Marat and Vadim and I set off high up in windblown Semensky Pass, in the company of an herb hunter named Yevgeney. At around 7500 feet, a chill wind and sleet made our hiking cold and wet. Eventually we came down into a valley, where Yevgeney pointed out hundreds of Rhaponticum and Rhodiola plants. Marat and Vadim smiled. I was very pleased. It is one thing to read or talk about where valuable plants grow, but quite another thing to travel to the source and see for yourself. There we were, up in the mountains of Siberia, surrounded by two of the most valuable plants in all of Asian traditional medicine.

Science Weighs In

Both of these Siberian plants enjoy a wealth of scientific research. Rhodiola rosea confers numerous benefits to health, helping to enhance mental and physical performance. Rhodiola supports the nervous system and boosts mental function by increasing blood-supply to the brain. Furthermore, Rhodiola possesses anti-depressant properties. Rhodoila increases energy, is cardio-protective, and helps to normalize heart rate after intense exertion. This is where Rhodiola’s actvity as an adaptogen comes into play. An adaptogen improves the body’s natural ability to deal with stress. Rhodiola does this with cardiovascular stress in particular. In one Russian study, an extract of Rhodiola rosea extract was examined for its effects on the pattern of stress-induced cardiac damage. Rhodiola rosea helped to prevent stress-induced cardiac damage, demonstrating stress-inhibiting and cardioprotective benefits.

Rhodiola’s potent protective and enhancing activities are due largely to the compounds rosavin, rosin, rosarin and salidroside. The sex-enhancing effects of Rhodiola rosea are likely due to its capacity to reduce body levels of stress chemicals which can impair sexual function.

Rhodiola rosea supplements can enhance your overall sense of vitality and strength. The recommended daily dose of Rhodiola rosea extract is approximately 300 milligrams, standardized to at least 1% salidroside, and 2-3% rosavins. You should notice improved mental and physical effects after ten days.

Rhodiola Botanical Sheet“Every herbalist has their favorite plant. Mine is Rhodiola rosea. Why? Because it improves energy endurance and stamina, it improves mental clarity, it enhances your ability to concentrate, it gives you a great night's sleep even though it's an energizer, it improves sexual function, and it improves your immune system too.”Chris Kilham, Fox News

Click on the icon above to read more about Rhodiola Botanical Sheet

Rhaponticum carthamoides root contains antioxidant catechins, flavonols, and chlorogenic acid, all of which help to inhibit oxidation, the “rusting” of the cells in our bodies. Flavonoids from the roots have been shown to reduce blood lipids. In Bulgarian studies, Rhaponticum root extract stimulated central nervous system activity. Plus, Rhaponticum also demonstrates other protective properties which require further scientific investigation. In animal studies, administration of Rhaponticum root extract improves learning and memory.

Rhaponticum carthamoides root contains the sterol 20-hydroxyecdysone, or ecdysterone. In animal studies, administration of ecdysterone accelerated overall body weight gain, and increased weight of the liver, heart, kidneys and skeletal muscles. 20-Hydroxyecdysone increases the activity of polyribosomes, compartments within cells where protein synthesis takes place. The result is an increase in body mass.; This activity is different than that of anabolic steroids, and is independent of testosterone.

Russian human studies showed that under conditions of aerobic-anaerobic training for three weeks, use of; 20-Hydroxyecdysone reduced body fat, and increased muscle mass. In a study of 117 speed skaters, use of Rhaponticum extract increased anabolic protein metabolism, and body weight. In the same study on the speed skaters, use of Rhaponticum extract significantly improved work capacity and aerobic capacity, and decreased heart beat rate.; But this isn’t the only human study showing that Rhaponticum extract improves performance. Studies on cadets and sailors support use of Rhaponticum as a preventive remedy for fatigue, to increase nonspecific resistance, and to improve mental and physical work capacity. After taking Rhaponticum extract, sleep normalized, appetite increased, general mental and physical state was improved in the test subjects, and their work capacity increased.

Look for Rhaponticum carthamoides standardized to 20-Hydroxyecdysone. Dosage recommendations on products vary one to another, but 20 milligrams of 20-Hydroxyecdysone twice daily, in the morning and afternoon, appears to be in the ballpark.