Rhodiola (Hong Jing Tian)

Botanical Name: Rhodiola rosea

Rhodiola has long been used in TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) to help Build Qi and Move Blood. It helps improve digestion, build stamina, and accelerate recovery from fatigue. Now known as a powerful adaptogen, rhodiola has been used by the Chinese for centuries.  The ancient Greeks, and the Vikings used it to build strength. Research confirms that rhodiola has a similar impact on treating depression as the pharmaceutical Zoloft without the side effects.

Watch a short video, from Ann Christensen, Founder and Creator of White Rabbit Institute of Healing™ – Rhodiola And SADs (Seasonal Affective Disorder)

Below is an overview of Rhodiola, combining the best of Western Science, Oriental Medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Shamanism, Folklore, and a wide range of healing modalities. Gain a balanced and thorough understanding of the healing properties of Rhodiola.

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Western Name: Rhodiola

Also Known As: Golden Root, Rose Root, Aaron’s Rod, Arctic Root, King’s Crown, Lignum rhodium, Orpin Rose

Organs/Systems: Nervous, Immune, Endocrine, Respiratory, Cardiovascular

Key Actions: Adaptogenic, Cardiotonic, Stimulant, Antidepressant, Anti-inflammatory, Restorative, Antihypoxic

Medicinal Uses: Stress, lethargy, depression, anxiety, anemia, lung infections, headaches, physical weakness, muscle recovery, cognitive function, memory, fatigue, palpitations associated with stress or anxiety, ischemic heart disease, and premature ejaculation.


Pin Yin: Hong Jing Tian

Also Known As: N/A

Meridians: Lung, Kidney, Spleen, Liver, Heart

Key Actions: Clears Heat, Nourishes Lung Yin, Tonifies Lung Qi, Tonifies Spleen Qi, Tonifies the Kidney, SupportsYang, Moves Blood,      Clears Channels, Stops Bleeding, Nourishes the Heart, Calms Shen

Medicinal Uses: Coughs, tuberculosis, bronchitis, pneumonia, hemoptysis, hematemesis, shortness of breath, chronic diseases, childhood development, adjunct cancer treatment, leukorrhea, wheezing, hypertension, chest pain, palpitations, longevity, low back pain, arthritis, stamina, stress-related insomnia, general symptoms associated with stress, brain fog, fibromyalgia, mental fatigue, chronic fatigue, muscle recovery, poor appetite, anemia, irritability, headaches, fatigue, used topically to treat blood stagnation from traumatic injury and burns, protects the brain and central nervous system.

Basic Habitat / Botany:

Rhodiola rosea is one of 90 Rhodiola species, 60 of which are found in China, and 30 of which are found in Tibet. It is a perennial that can grow to be 12 to 30 inches tall and produces red, pink, or yellow blossoms. It has two series of stamens totaling twice the number of petals and a basal rosette of leaves.

Rhodiola likes the cold, mountainous, arctic regions of Europe and Asia. It thrives on dry, rocky, or sandy soils at high altitudes. It also grows in Alaska, Canada, and California.

Parts Most Frequently Used: Root, Rhizome, Shoot, Leaf, Stem​

Flavors/Temps: Root, Rhizome – Sweet, Bitter, Astringent, Dry, Cold.  Stem, Leaf, Shoot – Bitter, Astringent, Cold.

Caution: Considered safe, although it can cause dry mouth in some people.

Key Constituents: Salidroside, Rosavin, Rosardin, Rosarin, Tyrosol, Flavonoids


Research reveals that rhodiola significantly improves physical fitness, reduces mental fatigue, and improves the neuro-motoric performance of students during exam periods. The herb is known for improving sleep, reducing stress, increasing appetite, and treating hypertension. It is considered a longevity and powerful adaptogenic herb. The herb is known to contain over 140 active ingredients!

Rhodiola contains the compound rosavin which is unique to rhodiola within the Rhodiola plant family and which is known for modulating the levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, raising it or lowering it as needed. The herb helps protect the heart and liver and increases oxygen which in turn helps to improve memory and attention span.

It has been used in Iceland, Russia, and Scandinavia to help build stamina and treat those who suffer from SADs (Seasonal Affective Disorder). This condition triggers depression-like symptoms due to inadequate sunlight in the fall and winter seasons. A study published in 2007 in the Nordic Journal of Psychiatry showed patients with mild-to-moderate depression who used rhodiola extract reported fewer symptoms of depression than those who took the placebo.

While the roots and rhizomes are used as a tonic herb popular in Russia, Scandinavia, Eastern Europe and Asia, the shoots, leaves, and stems are also edible, though slightly bitter, and can be consumed raw or cooked.

In Asia, rhodiola tea is a popular cold, lung infection, and asthma remedy. In Tibet, the herb is useful in aiding proper childhood development and growth. Today the herb is also used as an adjunct herb for treating cancer.

Research confirms that rhodiola has a similar impact on treating depression as the pharmaceutical Zoloft without the side effects.

Rhodiola has been shown to significantly improve generalized anxiety by simply making use of 170 mg of extract twice a day for ten weeks. A group of physicians who took the extract for two weeks during night duty also confirmed significantly improved focus and reduced mental fatigue than those who did not use the extract.

Twice daily doses of rhodiola extract have been used safely for 6 to 10 weeks. Start with 100 mg once a day for a week and then increase the dosage by 100mg every week, up to 400 mg per day.

Rhodiola helps support weight loss by helping to burn visceral (belly fat). Evidence suggests the herb might reduce visceral white adipose tissue and increase hypothalamic norepinephrine to help prevent diet-induced obesity. The herb compound rosavin is known to trigger a fat-burning response as well as normalize cortisol levels that can induce cravings for “comfort foods” that can cause “belly fat.”

While rhodiola can help improve sleep as a symptom associated with stress, it is best known as a stimulating and uplifting herb. It can make some people feel “hyper or revved” up, so use it early in the day to help prevent interference with sleeping at night. If you are a coffee drinker, or enjoy sodas and other beverages already full of caffeine, taking rhodiola simultaneously with these kinds of caffeinated drinks may create restlessness or agitation.

Rhodiola has been and continues to be studied for its significant anticancer properties. It has been shown to effectively stimulate the immune response, and the compound, salidroside, found in rhodiola is known to inhibit the growth of bladder cancer.

Students who took rhodiola an hour before exams experienced increased endurance and improved mental stamina.

Rhodiola can be blended with astragalus, lycium/goji berries, schisandra, and ginseng for a wonderful tea that can help build Qi. For fighting colds and treating coughs it is often combined with licorice. Rhodiola has a bittersweet, with astringent mouthfeel.

The typical dose for teas and decoctions is 3-6g and 1-3g up to 3-12g used topically as a powder. The optimal dose for improving stress, fatigue, or depression is 400-600 mg in a single dose per day. To enhance performance and stamina the recommended dose is 200-300 mg taken an hour or two before exercising.

The best source for rhodiola supplements is Siberia, Russia. Be sure any source you choose contains at least 3% rosavin and 1% salidroside as a guarantee of quality and efficiency. Not all commercial products are created equally, so check your ingredients and be sure of quality.

Fragrant when first cut, rhodiola has been used as a substitute for roses. Even the roots contain a pleasant rose-like scent.

Did you know?

Altitude Sickness

It has often been used in Tibet to help treat altitude sickness.


Confirm Content

Protect against adulteration. Be sure any commercial rhodiola products you use contain the standard amount of 3% rosavin and 1% salidroside. This is the natural ratio found in rhodiola herb. Look for brands that carry the USP or NSF seal. These are non-profit organizations that confirm product purity.

Fun fact!

Arctic Root

Some people use the name “arctic root” as a general name for rhodiola. However, this is the trademarked name of a specific commercial extract of rhodiola and not an actual name for the herb itself.

Take FULL advantage of Rhodiola (Hong Jing Tian)!

Connecting Eastern and Western perspectives on HOW and WHY this herb works. Find out how to safely and effectively use this healing herb for treating conditions and for your Body, Mind, and Spirit. Find True Health. Explore uses, safety information, benefits, history, recipes, gardening tips, essential oil information, if it applies, and much, much more in this online course.

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ATTENTION: All material provided on this website is for informational or educational purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for the advice of your healthcare professional or physician. Redistribution permitted with attribution. Be Healthy. Be Happy. Be Whole. Be Free.

ATENCIÓN: Todo el material proporcionado en este sitio web es sólo con fines informativos o educativos. No es sustituto del consejo de su profesional de la salud o médico. Esté sano. Sea feliz. Siéntase completo. Sea libre.

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