Most of the supplements we test at BrainWiz contain multiple ingredients (“stacks”) intended to boost focus, clarity, memory, and mental energy in a multitude of ways. But some of the most potent ingredients in these supplements are sold on their own as brain-boosters. And we want to test those, too! One of our favorite ingredients is Rhodiola Rosea (found in supplements like RISE), a well-known “adaptogen” that fights the negative effects of stress.
Rhodiola is actually a Scandinavian herb used in that region and in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Rhodiola Rosea is sold by several large supplement manufacturers as an extract. Today we’re testing Rhodiola by Solaray (click for best price).
Rhodiola (rhodiola rosea) (root extract) – 100 mg (Guaranteed 1 mg [1%] each Rosavins and Salidrosides)
While there’s some evidence that Rhodiola Rosea can combat the effects of physical stress, it’s best known and well-researched to fight fatigue from mental challenges and tasks.
Basically, evidence suggests this herb helps us better manage stress, and it also combats fatigue we might feel from mentally (and potentially physically) grueling tasks. Some early research also indicates Rhodiola could improve overall longevity and brain help in mammals. Adaptogens have also been loosely linked to boosting the effects of stimulants (see below for what our reviewers had to say about pairing Rhodiola Rosea with the world’s most popular stimulant!).
Other Ingredients: Cellulose, vegetable cellulose capsule and magnesium stearate.
Take one vegetarian capsule daily with a meal or glass of water. Rhodiola is an adaptogenic herb that has been used in Russia for many years.
What Our Testers Say
“I’ve taken Rhodiola Rosea before, but back in college before all-nighters (and before nootropics were really popular, I guess). I liked it then, and I like it now, though I forgot what brand I used to take. My nerves often get the best of me, but Rhodiola helps keep me calm. I still feel stress, but it’s something I can work with when taking the herb, not something that’s overpowering and crushing.”
“I didn’t notice any difference in physical endurance when taking this, but I did feel like I had better mental endurance at work. Not an energy boost, just felt more sustained throughout the day. I started taking this with a big iced coffee in the mornings, and I really liked how smooth it made my caffeine kick feel. I felt confident.”
“Rhodiola had a calming effect for me, and unlike a lot of what we’ve been trying recently, I didn’t feel like it gave me razor sharp focus, but this was almost better, as it allowed me to work longer without feeling distracted or getting nervous when looking at my growing to-do lists. It feels light, calming, and I’m still taking it every morning with breakfast or coffee.”
“The first thing that struck me about this supplement was how good it smelled. I felt good and had good work days whenever I took Rhodiola Rosea. It’s the kind of thing I’d recommend to my mother.”
- Most of our testers liked pairing this supplement with caffeine in some form, usually coffee. The coffee-Rhodiola Rosea stack gave a smooth feeling of sustained energy and mental endurance that lasted throughout the day. Adaptogens like Rhodiola Rosea and Panax Ginseng may actually boost the effects of common stimulants.
- We mention this more in our summary below, but very high doses of Rhodiola might not be as effective as standard doses, so it’s probably not worth loading up on more than the recommended serving.
- Rhodiola Rosea is natural and herbal, but as with any supplement or nutritional regimen, you should talk to your doctor or medical professional before use.
Rhodiola Rosea is a well-documented adaptogen that we’ve seen used well in supplements like Neurofuse (which smartly pairs it with caffeine for sustained mental energy). All our testers felt the effects while taking Solaray’s Rhodiola, though some other brands actually contain higher concentrations of the active ingredients, rosavins and salidorisides (though a few of our testers have a lot of experience with Solaray products and are generally happy with their quality guarantee and reputation).
Solaray does have a Super Rhodiola version of this supplement, which has the highest concentration and dosage of the active ingredients we’ve seen for sale of any brand. However, it’s unlikely that very high doses of Rhodiola Rosea are more effective at reducing fatigue and improving cognition over lower doses, and after a certain point (think north of 600 mg), high amounts might actually be ineffective.
The Super Rhodiola version could be a good option for people who like Rhodiola and want a higher concentration while staying within the generally recognized effective dose range. This supplement pairs especially well with coffee for those who drink caffeine regularly. When not paired with a stimulant, it’s one of the few brain boosters we’ve found you can take in the evening without preventing sleep.