(NaturalNews) Nearly one in five Americans will suffer from depression (along with related symptoms such as fatigue) at some time in their life. For people between 14 and 44, depression is the leading cause of medical disability. Depressed people are more than twice as likely as others to take sick days, and when they do make it to work they suffer from lost productivity due to a reduced ability to concentrate and to organize their day. Drugs, the usual medical intervention for depression, are expensive and come with unpleasant side effects such as sexual dysfunction, dry mouth, or drowsiness. Fortunately there are herbal remedies with minimal if any side effects which effectively relieve depression symptoms. One of the best is Rhodiola Rosea, an herb from the Crassulaceae family which grows in cold areas of the world such as Russia, Scandinavia, Iceland and the Arctic.
Also known as Golden Root, Rhodiola is a powerful adaptogen; one of several herbs which promote balance and act to increase the body's ability to handle stress. Rhodiola has a long history of use by traditional healers. For example, in Sweden Rhodiola was first described in medical texts as long ago as 1755. It is also prized in Siberia, perhaps because of the stress of living in such a severe climate.
Many scientific studies conducted in Scandinavia, Russia and Bulgaria have confirmed what traditional healers have known for centuries; Rhodiola is effective for a host of conditions including depression and fatigue. This may be why many Russian athletes and cosmonauts use Rhodiola to boost energy and focus as well as to improve both cognitive and physical performance.
Much of the early research on Rhodiola was conducted during the Soviet era, and results were purposefully kept secret to prevent Westerners from taking advantage of its many benefits. Today all of that is changed. Research continues and Rhodiola is readily available as an herbal supplement in this country.
While Rhodiola has a broad range of effectiveness, studies show it is particularly useful for ameliorating mild to moderate depression, increasing energy and improving focus. For example, in one study involving 128 patients with a depression diagnosis, 64% experienced noticeable relief from taking Rhodiola.
We need more research to determine exactly how Rhodiola impacts mood. However, part of the answer may be its ability to stimulate production of brain neurotransmitters such as endorphins and serotonin. But that is not the whole story. At the same time that Rhodiola calms the nervous system, it also increases energy to the brain improving its ability to function. In one study, Rhodiola helped students perform better on final exams. In another it contributed to improved work quality and less fatigue on the part of scientists and physicians. In a study of proofreaders, participants did not experience improvement in the quantity of work performed, but those who took Rhodiola made significantly fewer mistakes than those who did not.
Rhodiola Rosea supplements are made from the plant's roots, and the critical constituents are rosavins and salidrosides. Look for products where these are standardized to between 3% and 4% and 0.8% and 1.0 % respectively.
Celeste Smucker is a writer, editor and author of a book of inspirational messages available at www.soldonme.com. She has a longstanding interest in health care and alternative health solutions and is a student of effective online marketing techniques. Visit Lighten Up Weight Loss for an ever growing site about health,wellness, and weight loss.