Rhodiola Rosea: an Effective Natural Treatment for PTSD Symptoms

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The Consequences of Trauma

Described as far back as ancient Greek and Roman literature, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has plagued war veterans and survivors of natural disasters and other traumas for thousands of years. Those with this condition suffer from a variety of stress-related psychological and physical problems caused by the over stimulated nerves and excess stress hormones that come with prolonged exposure to life-threatening danger.

The psychological symptoms of PTSD, including depression, anxiety, irritability, and emotional instability, are the most publicized, but cognitive problems like poor memory and difficulty concentrating are also common. Understandably, these symptoms frequently carry over into physical manifestations of stress like insomnia, headaches, stomach pain, and chest pain.

Most trauma survivors find the worst effects of PTSD pass within a year, but others experience symptoms for decades and, if treatment isn’t sought, the condition can persist indefinitely.

An Effective Option for Natural Treatment

While there’s no shortage of psychoactive medications available to treat PTSD symptoms, there are valid reasons PTSD sufferers may not want to take them. For those who prefer to avoid drug treatments, the herb rhodiola rosea offers a highly effect and completely natural alternative.

Rhodiola rosea, found primarily in the Altai mountains of Siberia, falls in to a class of plants know as adaptogens. These plants help the body adapt to stress in a variety of ways, such as by boosting immunity and improving mental alertness. Side effects of this herb are rare and limited to dizziness and dry mouth. Where it grows wild, rhodiola rosea has been used in traditional medicine for centuries as a general tonic. Soviet soldiers in the harsh conditions of the Afghan war in the 1980’s drank rhodiola tea for its stress-protective properties. Fortunately, decades of scientific research backs up the old folk wisdom.

How Rhodiola Rosea Can Help

Anxiety and hypervigilance are among the most pronounced symptoms of PTSD and ones that rhodiola offers considerable hope for improving. In a study conducted at the University of California, Los Angeles, a small group of people with generalized anxiety disorder were given 340 mg of rhodiola rosea extract daily over the course of 10 weeks. At the end of the study, researchers found significant improvement in the participants’ anxiety symptoms.

Rhodiola can also help with the depression and other emotional issues many PTSD suffers face. Researchers at the Armenian State Medical University’s Department of Neurology conducted a study on 89 people with mild to moderate depression. For six weeks participates received either 340 mg or 680 mg of rhodiola root extract or a placebo. Those taking the rhodiola rosea received significant relief from depression, emotional instability, insomnia and physical complaints related to low mood such as headaches and stomachaches. Those on the placebo saw no changes.

For cognitive disturbances, such as memory loss and difficulty concentrating, rhodiola rosea has also been found useful. In 2007, researchers at the Carus Akademie Hamburg conducted a study on over 100 people ages 50 to 89 with physical and cognitive deficiencies. Participates took rhodiola rosea for twelve weeks and some 80% found improvement in concentration and memory, along with improved tolerance for stress and less irritability.

Keep in mind that these are just a few of the hundreds of clinical studies that have been conducted throughout the world, particularly in the former Soviet Union.

How to Use Rhodiola Rosea

Rhodiola rosea extract is sold in capsule and tablet form, with recommended dosages ranging from 100 mg to 400 mg a day. Quality products contain at least 3% of the active ingredient rosavin and at least 0.8% of the active ingredient salidroside, which is similar to the concentration found in healthy rhodiola plants. Tablets aren’t the best choice, though. Since extracts can’t provide the full spectrum of activity that pure rhodiola rosea roots can, a better option is to make tea from dry roots.

While rhodiala rosea alone isn’t enough to release PTSD sufferers from the symptoms they experience, this herb does offer real hope for getting relief from the worst of the anxiety, depression, concentration problems and other difficulties many war veterans and disaster survivors experience.


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Medicinenet.com Post Traumatic Stress Disorder


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Darbinyan V, Aslanyan G, Amroyan E, Gabrielyan E, Malmström C, Panossian A. Clinical trial of Rhodiola rosea L. extract SHR-5 in the treatment of mild to moderate depression. Nordic Journal of Psychiatry. 2007;61(5):343-8.

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