Posted on Mon, 22 Jun 15
The traditional herb Rhodiola rosea (also known as golden root) has been shown to have antidepressant effects and be better tolerated than a drug.
Rhodiola has a long history of safe use for improving energy and mood, and previous clinical studies have suggested important anti-depressant, anti-anxiety, stress relieving and mood enhancing effects.
To see how Rhodiola compares to the antidepressant drug sertraline (Zoloft) a group of people with depression were given either Rhodiola (340 mg of extract standardized to a content of rosavin 3.07%/ rhodioloside 1.95% daily), sertraline (50 mg daily) or placebo for 12-weeks.
If people were not responding well after 2-weeks the dose was increased by one capsule, then if still not responding 2-weeks later increased again and so on in this fashion up to a total of four capsules at 12-weeks.
At the end of the study both Rhodiola and sertraline demonstrated clinically meaningful antidepressant effects, although the reduction in depressive symptoms was greater for sertraline versus Rhodiola.
However, more people on sertraline reported adverse events (63.2% vs. 30%) and more premature treatment discontinuation (10% vs. 0%) than Rhodiola. Adverse effects on sertraline were more diverse and severe with nausea, insomnia, sexual dysfunction palpitations, appetite changes and gastrointestinal disturbances most common vs. only some dizziness and nervousness with Rhodiola.
“The identification of as safe and effective alternative therapy for mild to moderate major depressive disorder (MDD) would be of public health relevance for many individuals unable, or unwilling, to use conventional antidepressant therapy” commented the investigators.
“The current double-blind, placebo-controlled study represents the first controlled efficacy and tolerability study of Rhodiola extract versus a conventional antidepressant for mild to moderate MDD. Despite the limitations of this preliminary study, the present findings suggest that Rhodiola may possess modest antidepressant effects in some patients with mild to moderate MDD.”
Mao JJ, Xie SX, Zee J, Soeller I, Li QS, Rockwell K, Amsterdam JD. Rhodiola rosea versus sertraline for major depressive disorder: A randomized placebo-controlled trial. Phytomedicine. 2015 Mar 15;22(3):394-9.