Rhodiola roots

Chinese: 红景天

Pinyin: Hónɡ Jǐnɡ Tiān

Parts used: Dried root and rhizome

TCM category: Herbs that invigorate the Blood

TCM nature: Cold

TCM taste(s): Sweet

Meridian affinity: Liver

Scientific name: Rhodiola rosea

Other names: Golden root, Rose root, Roseroot, Aaron's rod, Arctic root, King's crown, Lignum rhodium, Orpin rose

Use of rhodiola roots (Hónɡ Jǐnɡ Tiān) in TCM

Please note that you should never self-prescribe TCM ingredients. A TCM ingredient is almost never eaten on its own but as part of a formula containing several ingredients that act together. Please consult a professional TCM practitionner, they will be best able to guide you.

Preparation: Remove impurities, wash, soak in water, cut in thick slices and dry.

Dosage: 3-6 grams

Main actions according to TCM*: Supplies Qi and activates blood circulation. Clears meridians and eases wheezing. Stop bleeding and relieves leukorrhea,

Primary conditions or symptoms for which rhodiola roots may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Coughing Wheezing Leukorrhea Hematemesis Muscle cramps Burns

Key TCM concepts behind rhodiola roots' properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), rhodiola roots are plants that belong to the 'Herbs that invigorate the Blood' category. Like the name indicates these herbs tend to stimulate the Blood flow. In TCM they're used to help the circulation of Blood in cardiovascular conditions or menstrual irregularities as well as to treat acute pains caused by Blood Stagnation. They can also be used to treat Blood Stasis in the case of certain tumors, cysts and hardened clots.

Furthermore rhodiola roots are plants that are Cold in nature. This means that rhodiola roots typically help people who have too much "heat" in their body. Balance between Yin and Yang is a key health concept in TCM. Those who have too much heat in their body are said to either have a Yang excess (because Yang is Hot in nature) or a Yin deficiency (Yin is Cold in Nature). Depending on your condition rhodiola roots can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Rhodiola roots also taste Sweet. The so-called "five elements" theory in Chinese Medicine states that the taste of TCM ingredients is a key determinant of their action in the body. Sweet ingredients like rhodiola roots tend to slow down acute reactions and detoxify the body. They also have a tonic effect because they replenish Qi and Blood.

The tastes of ingredients in TCM also determine what organs and meridians they target. As such rhodiola roots are thought to target the Liver. In TCM the Liver is often referred as the body's "general" because it is in charge of regulating the movements of Qi and body fluids. It also takes a leading role in balancing our emotions.

Research on rhodiola roots

Rhodiola rosea extract significantly improved physical fitness, mental fatigue and neuro-motoric performance of students during a stressful examination period.1

Research indicates great utility of Rhodiola rosea in asthenic conditions (decline in work performance, sleep difficulties, poor appetite, irritability, hypertension, headaches, and fatigue) developing subsequent to intense physical or intellectual strain.2

Sources:

1. A. A. Spasov, G. K. Wikman, V. B. Mandrikov, I. A. Mironova, V. V. Neumoin (2000). A double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study of the stimulating and adaptogenic effect of Rhodiola rosea SHR-5 extract on the fatigue of students caused by stress during an examination period with a repeated low-dose regimen. Phytomedicine, Vol. 7(2), pp. 85–89.

2. Gregory S. Kelly (2001 ). Rhodiola rosea: A Possible Plant Adaptogen. Alternative Medicine Review, Vol. 6(3), pp. 293-302