Rhodiola is a useful natural remedy for high blood pressure when this is related to stress. Rhodiola is an alpine plant that is also known as golden root or Arctic root. It has been used as a medicine for over a thousand years and helps to improve the way cells use oxygen to improve energy levels as well as regulating blood pressure. Rhodiola is both energising and calming, and relieves fatigue.
How does it work?
Rhodiola contains a number of active constituents which can lift a low mood and reduce the effects of stress hormones (cortisol, adrenaline/epinephrine) through a direct action on the brain. This, in turn, can reduce anxiety and lower a high blood pressure.
Rhodiola’s energising effect can enhance performance and improve alertness, concentration, memory, stamina and sleep quality. It’s particularly helpful when physical and emotional stress lead to burn-out, fatigue, reduced work performance, sleep difficulties, poor appetite, irritability, headaches or raised blood pressure.
What’s the evidence?
Research involving 60 people with stress-related fatigue showed that taking 576mg Rhodiola extracts per day significantly reduced cortisol responses to stress compared with placebo. It reduced fatigue, improved mental performance and the ability to concentrate.
An open-label trial involving 101 people with stress found that a dose of 200mg Rhodiola, taken twice a day for four weeks, improved stress symptoms, and all measures of the ability to function, with benefits seen as early as three days after starting treatment, and continuing to improve for 4 weeks.
When taken by a group of 56 doctors on night duty, Rhodiola extracts also reduced perceptions of fatigue and improved mental performance, memory, concentration and the ability to think staight, compared with a placebo. Similar results were seen in a group of student during a stressful examination period, with those taking Rhodiola showing significant improvements in physical fitness, mental fatigue and muscle testing.
In China, Rhodiola is included in the treatment of angina and ischaemic heart disease. A number of studies suggest it is effective but more studies are needed to confirm this.
In the UK, Rhodiola is a traditional herbal medicine licensed to treat symptoms associated with stress such as fatigue, exhaustion and mild anxiety. A typical dose is 200mg, once or twice a day.
If your blood pressure is raised, self-monitoring is key to maintaining good control.
Click here for advice on choosing a blood pressure monitor to use at home.
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