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Rhodiola for Fibro

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A little known herb called Rhodiola rosea is gaining attention in the fibromyalgia community. The herb reduces depression, raises endorphins, improves mental concentration, and may help fibromyalgia patients sleep better.

Rhodiola, also known as Rhodiola Rosea, may be an herb that few people have heard of. Despite this assumption, Rhodiola is gaining plenty of attention from the fibromyalgia community. 

Symptoms and treatments for fibromyalgia

The University of Maryland Medical Center describes fibromyalgia as a chronic disease that is heralded by pain and tender points “everywhere”- in muscle, joint, and tendon tissues.

The exact cause of fibromyalgia has not been discovered. However, research within the past couple of years indicates that fibromyalgia is a combination of phenomena.

Symptoms involve gut permeability (“leaky gut” syndrome), a chemical misfiring in the brain’s pain center, severe malnutrition due to the body’s inability to absorb nutrients properly, “brain fog,” chronic stress overload, and chronic fatigue.

Clinical anxiety, depression, a variety of food and environmental sensitivities, as well as intestinal issues, are involved as well.

Doctors may prescribe antidepressants, sleeping aids, analgesics (pain relievers), anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), muscle relaxants, and thyroid medication if there are thyroid issues.

Other drugs may be prescribed to reduce the side effects of the treatment drugs.

Many foods must be eliminated due to allergies, and a Paleo or high raw vegan- style diet may be adopted. Dietary supplements such as cold-water fish oil, a multivitamin, probiotics, Vitamin D, and magnesium may help relieve symptoms.

Exercise is critical for the fibromyalgia patient, even though it may be uncomfortable to exercise at first. Strength, endurance, and flexibility must all be practiced.

Meditation, hot Epsom salt baths, acupuncture, chiropractic care, and massage therapy are other alternative health care therapies to consider for the treatment of fibromyalgia.

Herbs for fibromyalgia may reduce the need for drugs

One area of natural health care in which many people lack knowledge is herbs. There are a number of herbs that have been clinically proven to help with fibromyalgia, in a variety of ways.

The advantage of using herbs over prescription drugs is that herbs have few if any, side effects.

The disadvantages of using herbs are that it is unlikely that a medical doctor is familiar with how herbs work, and some over- the- counter commercial herbal products are inferior and simply do not work well.

It is important to talk to a health care professional before weaning off prescription drugs for fibromyalgia. Some drugs, such as anti-depressants produce horrible withdrawal symptoms and must be weaned off very slowly, under a doctor’s supervision.

Rhodiola for fibromyalgia

Rhodiola grows in mountainous and Arctic regions. As a healing herb, Rhodiola relieves depression and elevates the mood. Human trials indicate that Rhodiola improves performance and reduces fatigue by being an adaptogen, rather than a stimulant.

Rhodiola influences endorphins in a positive way, as well as inhibits monoamine oxidase. This blocking mechanism changes the levels of serotonin and dopamine in the brain.

Historically, Rhodiola was used in northern climates to combat seasonal depression which occurred in sunless and stressful winters.

Animal studies have proven the benefits of Rhodiola for a variety of ailments, however; the only published human trial involved the effectiveness of Rhodiola for depression.

The Nordic Journal of Psychiatry concluded that 340 to 680/mg Rhodiola extract per day for six weeks was demonstrated to relieve mild to moderate depression in a randomized, cross-matched, placebo-controlled study involving adults ranging in 18-70-year-olds.

Rhodiola is also believed to be able to reduce fatigue and increase mental concentration and may be able to improve physical performance.

One way that Rhodiola helps specifically with fibromyalgia concerns cortisol levels. People with fibromyalgia have very low cortisol levels in the morning, coupled with the effects of insomnia.

This is the opposite of healthy people, whose cortisol levels are highest in the morning and taper off until the evening. These reversed cortisol levels may explain why fibromyalgia patients have such difficulty sleeping, even when pain levels are reduced.

Taking Rhodiola in the evening with dinner may be able to lower cortisol levels in fibromyalgia patients as well as lower the high amounts of neurotransmitters which induce excitement.


PubMed.gov, Bartecchi CE. “Fibromyalgia and complementary and alternative medicine.” Mayo Clinic Procedures. 2005; 80(6):826.”

University of Maryland Medical Center. edu, “Fibromyalgia”

PubMed.gov, Shevtsov VA and Zholus BI, et al. (Mar 2003). "A randomized trial of two different doses of Rhodiola rosea extract versus placebo and control of capacity for mental work". Phytomedicine 10 (2–3): 95–105.

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