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The effects of an acute dose of Rhodiola rosea on exercise performance and cognitive function


The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of an acute oral dose of 3 mg/kg of Rhodiola rosea (R. rosea) on endurance exercise performance, mood, and cognitive function.


A total of 15 recreationally active college women (21.3 ± 0.09 y, 56.1 ± 6.3 kg; mean ± SD) participated in this study. 2–7 d after a familiarization trial subjects ingested in a double blind, random crossover manner, either R. rosea or a carbohydrate placebo 1 h prior to testing. Exercise testing consisted of a 10 minute warm-up, standardized to 80% of the average watts produced during the familiarization trial, followed by a 6 mile simulated indoor time trial on a Velotron electronic bicycle ergometer. Every 5 min during the time trial, subjects rated their level of perceived exertion using a BORG 10 pt scale. A blood sample was taken pre warm-up, 2 minutes post warm-up, and 2 minutes following completion of the time trial, and was analyzed for lactate concentration. Subjects also completed a Profile of Mood States (POMS) questionnaire and a Stroop's color test pre-warm up and following the completion of the time trial. Subjects returned to the lab 2–7 d later to repeat the testing with the other condition.


A 3 mg/kg acute does of R. rosea resulted in a shorter time to completion of the 6 mile time trial course (R. rosea 1544.7 ± 155.2 s, Placebo 1569.5 ± 179.4 s; mean ± SD; p = 0.06) as well as a lower average heart rate during the standardized warm up (R. rosea 138.6 ± 13.3 bpm, Placebo 143.7 ± 12.4 bpm; mean ± SD; p = 0.001). There were no significant differences between treatment conditions for rating of perceived exertion during the time trial. Both treatments resulted in a significant increase in the POMS fatigue score following exercise (p = 0.001), as well as a significant improvement following exercise for the Stroop's test of incongruent words (p = 0.001). No other significant differences between treatments were observed.


Acute Rhodiola rosea ingestion decreases the heart rate response to sub-maximal exercise, and appears to improve endurance exercise performance.

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Correspondence to Eric Noreen.

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Open Access This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Noreen, E., Buckley, J. & Lewis, S. The effects of an acute dose of Rhodiola rosea on exercise performance and cognitive function. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 6 (Suppl 1), P14 (2009).

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