Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Why Rhodiola Rosea for Down Syndrome?

Rhodiola rosea, commonly known as golden root, rose root, or artic root, is a medicinal plant indigenous to Siberia that thrives in dry and cold arctic climates. The medicinal compounds of rhodiola rosea are derived from the root of the plant, and have been used to relieve occasional stress, anxiety, mental and physical fatigue, and depressed mood. Rhodiola rosea is known as an adaptogen, meaning that it increases resistance to physical and emotional stress.

The natural medicine has been shown to stimulate serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine activity, and is believed to play a role in healthy emotional and neurological function.

How Does it Benefit those with DS?

Here are a few links and study abstracts that may give us clues about why Rhodiola Rosea seems to help our loved ones with DS...
Below, Rhodiola Rosea would seem to activate or i
ncrease the ERK (extracellular signal-regulated kinases)1/2 pathway. Activation of this pathway seems to be necessary for BDNF (Brain-derived neurotrophic factor) which is is a potent modulator of synaptic transmission and plasticity in the CNS (central nervous system), acting both pre- and postsynaptically.....

Finally, Down syndrome specific...Kathleen Gardner writes about pathways and Down syndrome
You'll have to look for the info., but the ERK 1/2 pathway is mentioned quite a bit.

It doesn't appear that this herb can increase neurogenesis or BDNF all by itself in Down syndrome but, it does seem to be very good for DS. It seems that this pathway is definitely a contributor to cognition in DS.

Link to Rhodiola Rosea and ERK 1/2 pathway

Additional Studies

11794 11.1287

Mech Ageing Dev. 2010 Nov-Dec;131(11-12):723-31. Epub 2010 Oct 28.

Salidroside protects human fibroblast cells from premature senescence induced by H(2)O(2) partly through modulating oxidative status.

Mao GX, Wang Y, Qiu Q, Deng HB, Yuan LG, Li RG, Song DQ, Li YY, Li DD, Wang Z.

Institute of Medicinal Biotechnology, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, Beijing 100050, People's Republic of China.


Although salidroside and salidroside-like compounds are considered as most critical constitutes needed and responsible for multiple therapeutic benefits of Rhodiola rosea L., including anti-aging, direct demonstration regarding the role of salidroside in anti-aging process is still deficient. In this study, we selected the H(2)O(2)-induced premature senescence model in human fetal lung diploid fibroblasts to investigate the protection of salidroside against aging in vitro and associated molecular mechanisms. We found that salidroside considerably reversed senescence-like phenotypes in the oxidant challenged model, including alterations of morphology, cell cycle, SA-β-gal staining, DNA damage, as well as related molecules expression such as p53, p21 and p16. The protection occurred in a dose-dependent manner, with 5μM offering best efficacy. The proposed antioxidant property of the compound was confirmed in this cellular system, and thus at least partially accounted for the protection of the compound against premature senescence. Similar protection of salidroside against replicative senescence was observed as well. Interestingly, the regulation of senescence-related molecules by salidroside involved ROS-irrelevant mechanisms in both models. This finding presents salidroside as an attractive agent with potential to retard aging and attenuate age-related diseases in humans.

Copyright © 2010 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.

PMID: 21035481 [PubMed - in process]

J Med Food. 2010 Dec;13(6):1287-92. Epub 2010 Oct 14.

Exploring new applications for Rhodiola rosea: can we improve the quality of life of patients with short-term hypothyroidism induced by hormone withdrawal?

Zubeldia JM, Nabi HA, Del Río MJ, Genovese J.

Department of Applications, Safety and Regulations, Polinat S.L., Taibique Polígono Industrial Las Majoreras, 35240 Ingenio, Las Palmas, Spain.


Patients treated for differentiated thyroid cancer (DTC) are subjected to periodic surveillance that includes serum thyroglobulin measurements followed by radioiodine administrations for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes if necessary. Both procedures require adequately elevated blood levels of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), which can be achieved by two approaches: parenteral administration of recombinant human TSH (rhTSH) or stopping thyroid hormone replacement until optimal levels of endogenous TSH are achieved. Although rhTSH administration does not require hormone withdrawal, it is not inexpensive and carries the risk of secondary effects. The latter option is simpler but induces a profound state of hypothyroidism, which results in physical and mental complaints that may interfere severely with the patient's activities of daily living. Rhodiola rosea is a popular plant in traditional medical systems in Eastern Europe and Asia with a reputation for stimulating the nervous system, decreasing depression, enhancing work performance, and eliminating fatigue, all features of clinical hypothyroidism. Investigators have also suggested additional benefits such as cardioprotection or even tumor growth inhibition. Here, we propose R. rosea as a viable alternative treatment for the symptoms of short-term hypothyroidism in patients with DTC who require hormone withdrawal.

PMID: 20946017 [PubMed - in process]

J Ethnopharmacol. 2011 Jan 27;133(2):308-14. Epub 2010 Oct 23.

Salidroside promotes erythropoiesis and protects erythroblasts against oxidative stress by up-regulating glutathione peroxidase and thioredoxin.

Qian EW, Ge DT, Kong SK.

Department of Biochemistry, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, N.T., Hong Kong.


ETHNOPHARMACOLOGICAL RELEVANCE: Rhodiola rosea is commonly used in China and Tibet folk medicine for the treatment of high altitude sickness, anoxia and mountain malhypoxia.

AIM OF STUDY: Salidroside (SDS) is an active ingredient of Rhodiola rosea. This study attempted to examine the potential erythropoiesis-stimulating and anti-oxidative effect of SDS in TF-1 erythroblasts.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: The erythropoiesis-promoting effect was determined by treating human TF-1 cells, one of the popular in vitro models for studying erythropoiesis, with SDS in the presence and absence of erythropoietin (EPO) through the measurement of the expression of a series of erythroid markers such as glycophorin A (GPA), transferrin receptor (CD71) and hemoglobin (Hb). The potential protective effect of SDS against H(2)O(2)-induced apoptosis and its underlying mechanism in TF-1 erythroblasts were examined by flow cytometry and Western blot analysis.

RESULTS: SDS promotes erythropoiesis in the EPO-treated cells and it also reduces the number of apoptotic cells in TF-1 erythroblasts after H(2)O(2) treatment probably through the up-regulation of protective proteins thioredoxin-1 (Trx1) and glutathione peroxidase-1 (GPx1).

CONCLUSION: Our study provides evidence to explain the ethnopharmacological role of SDS and Rhodiola rosea in Chinese medicine. Our findings also support the use of SDS as an erythropoiesis-adjuvant agent to correct anemia and malhypoxia.

Copyright © 2010 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.

PMID: 20920561 [PubMed - in process]

J Pharmacol Sci. 2010;114(4):399-408.

Salidroside attenuates apoptosis in ischemic cardiomyocytes: a mechanism through a mitochondria-dependent pathway.

Zhong H, Xin H, Wu LX, Zhu YZ.

Department of Pharmacology, School of Pharmacy, Fudan University, Shanghai 201203, China.

In the present study, we investigated cardioprotective effects of salidroside, isolated from Rhodiola rosea L, on oxygen-glucose deprivation (OGD)-induced cardiomyocyte death and ischemic injury evoked by acute myocardial infarction (AMI) in rats. Pretreatment with salidroside notably ameliorated cell viability losses in a dose-dependant manner and in parallel it alleviated morphologic injury detected by electron microscopy. Mechanistically, diminished OGD-induced cardiomyocyte apoptosis was shown in salidroside-pretreated cardiomyocytes, in accordance with minimal reactive oxygen species (ROS) burst. Moreover, salidroside markedly upregulated the Bcl-2/Bax ratio and preserved mitochondrial transmembrane potential (ΔΨm). Salidroside administration also inhibited myocardial apoptosis in AMI rats by increasing phosphorylation of Akt and decreasing activation of caspase-3. These findings suggest that salidroside reduced ischemia-mediated myocardial damage. Salidroside therefore has potential to be a promising drug for preventing and treating myocardial ischemic diseases.

PMID: 21160132 [PubMed - in process]Free Article
(I have this full text, if you want me to send it to you, just email me.)

Phytother Res. 2011 Jan;25(1):106-15. doi: 10.1002/ptr.3236.
Rhodiola-induced inhibition of adipogenesis involves antioxidant enzyme response associated with pentose phosphate pathway.

Lee OH, Kwon YI, Apostolidis E, Shetty K, Kim YC.

Department of Nutrition, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA 01003, USA.

The aim of this study was to investigate whether Rhodiola crenulata extract and tyrosol, a major bioactive phenolic compound present in Rhodiola, change the activities of endogenous antioxidant enzyme response (AER) and energy pathways linked to proline-mediated pentose phosphate pathway (PPP) during adipogenesis. Treatment with Rhodiola extracts inhibited the activities of proline dehydrogenase (PDH) and glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PDH) as well as lipid accumulation and reactive oxygen species (ROS) production. The inhibition of PDH and G6PDH activities by Rhodiola likely prevented proline oxidation required for critical ATP generation that is coupled to AER via the PPP, leading to inhibition of adipogenesis. Rhodiola extracts dose-dependently increased superoxide dismutase (SOD) activity, resulting in a reduced ROS level during adipogenesis. Moreover, the effects of tyrosol, a major bioactive compound in Rhodiola species, were directly correlated with all observed effects by Rhodiola extracts. These results indicate that the antiadipogenic effects of Rhodiola extracts can be attributed to a phenolic tyrosol that may potentially disrupt proline-mediated energy generation and AER via PPP, resulting in the suppression of adipogenesis and lipid accumulation. This further provides a biochemical rationale to identify the roles of phenolics that modulate the cellular redox environment and therefore have relevance for obesity management.

Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

PMID: 20623718 [PubMed - in process]

Side Effects

Side effects of rhodiola rosea are generally rare and mild to moderate. They may include headache, stomach upset, drowsiness, dizziness, and difficulty sleeping.
The most common rhodiola rosea side effects include restlessness, irritability, and insomnia. Essentially, these are the same common side effects often observed in any mild stimulant. Even three drops at night definitely disturbs Jett's sleep (thrashing, vocalizing and stimming in bed).
If taken in high doses or with another stimulant, the most disturbing rhodiola rosea side effect would be a rapid heart beat, or heart palpitations.
There is anecdotal evidence that these side effects of rhodiola rosea can cause the “shakes” if you first spike your blood sugar by eating sweets on an empty stomach than take rhodiola rosea extract. This is easily avoidable, but I still find it worth mentioning. Perhaps it is not a good idea to consume rhodiola rosea when you know you have low blood sugar and won’t be able to eat anytime soon.
Most of these symptoms can be avoided by starting rhodiola in smaller doses than it is recommended, then working your way to the higher doses suggested on any specific rhodiola product’s label.
Do not exceed the higher end of the suggested dose, and do not combine rhodiola with other stimulants (like caffeine) until you are confident your body accepts rhodiola well and you’ve been taking it for some time.
Because of its restlessness and insomnia side effects, I suggest that you not take rhodiola rosea in the evening and definitely not before bed. Side effects of rhodiola can impact your ability to obtain quality, restful sleep.

Risks Associated with Rhodiola Rosea:

There are no known risks associated with rhodiola rosea, however, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not regulate the production of herbs and supplements. Most herbs and supplements are not thoroughly tested, and there is no guarantee regarding the ingredients or safety of the products.
Medication Interactions With Rhodiola Rosea
You may experience drowsiness if you combine rhodiola rosea with benzodiazepines, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), or serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs).

Who Shouldn’t Take Rhodiola Rosea:

Do not take rhodiola rosea if you are pregnant or nursing, or taking prescription monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs).

You should read the product label for dosing instructions and consult a healthcare provider if necessary. The recommended adult dosage for capsule form of rhodiola rosea is 100 to 300 mg daily.
For Jett, I'm working my way up to 30 drops a day, 20 in the morning and 10 more 6 hours later, avoiding supplementation before bedtime. During this first week of introduction, I only have him on 10 drops at 10 am and 10 drops at 5 pm.
This is the product I'm using for Jett:
Other moms are using the iherb brand with great results.
When Jett is old enough to swallow capsules, I'll probably get this one:


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1 comment:

Ali said...

Rhodiola is one of the herbs mentioned in one of my fav books, "The Cortisol Connection", by Shawn Talbott. He has lists of adaptogens, herbs for stress and sleep... it's a wonderful book for those dealing with heavy stress. I took a peek at the U.S. National Library of Medicine site,, and if you put the word "rhodiola" in there with these words (one at a time) - stress, insulin, kidney, neuron - you get some great studies. Alot of kids with DS have kidney issues, mine does, so I watch for that. Turns out rhodiola is kidney-friendly, it's anti-diabetic (yay!) and it's great for stress and for protecting the brain. Good stuff. This study # 20374974 mentions "sleepiness" as a possible side-effect so maybe rhodiola would be a good nighttime supp. Thanks for the info.. I love your blog!!!! Ali :)