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NMU 68 – Combating Burnout – Some Eye-opening Research Using Rodiola

Nutrition / Natural Medicine Update No. 68

with Dr. James Meschino


Research Topic: Combating Burnout – Some Eye-opening Research Using Rodiola

Source: Journal Neuropsychiatric Diseases and Treatment (March 2017)


We know that burnout is a common problem in society today, and it accounts for an increasing number of disability claims. The increasing demands of our fast-paced, life, coupled with multiple responsibilities and demands from various dimensions of our life, is at the root of many of cases of burnout. Here is the official definition of burnout, “the subjective perception of chronic demand-related stress with subsequent emotional exhaustion and decreased performance in work-related or self-set tasks”.  The symptoms include not only changes in mood and emotional wellbeings, such as fatigue, cynicism, impaired sexual life, lack of concentration, or general negative attitude toward work, but also physical symptoms such as headache, spasticity, and rigidity, or irritable stomach.  Studies show that burn out increases the risk for subsequent development of serious mental or physical disorders, including depression, anxiety, and cardiovascular conditions – which are the most prevalent conditions associated with a history of burnout.

In recent years, researchers have performed a number of clinical trials with patients diagnosed with burnout, by giving them an herbal supplement known as Rodiola. Rodiola is an herb that is classified as an adaptogen, as studies show that it mitigates the effects of stress on the body and the brain via multi-dimensional mechanisms, such as reducing the secretion of stress hormones and preserving the balance of key brain neurotransmitters, when organisms are under stress. So, this 2017 study really caught my eye. It was published in the journal Neuropsychiatric Diseases and Treatment on March 22, 2017.  In this study researchers treated 118 male and female outpatients, age 30-60 years of age, who were suffering from burnout symptoms. The subjects had similar daily stress burdens (i.e. home caring of handicapped or demented family member). The patients ingested 400 mg of a standardized grade of Rodiola rosea extract, over a 12-week period. The study results were impressive.

As reported by the researchers, subjective stress symptoms underwent significant improvement, which suggests an increase in coping ability and a decrease in subjectively perceived demand after the intervention.
A significant percentage of patients reported improvement in the following specific parameters:

  • lack of joy
  • loss of zest for life
  • improved alertness
  • personal accomplishment
  • improved interest in sex (combating stress-induced impairment of sex life)

Some of the patients experienced improvement in these symptoms as early as the first week of Rodiola supplementation.  And the majority of patients saw clear benefit in burnout symptoms over the course of the 12-week treatment period. The researchers note that other trials evaluating the effects of Rodiola extract in improving the physical and mental performance under stressful conditions confirm and support these findings. My note would be that if you are thinking of using a Rodiola supplement to help combat symptoms of burnout, speak to your doctor first, and then make sure you use a Rodiola supplement that is standardized to 3.5% Rosavins content to ensure that you are getting sufficient medicinal ingredients from the 400mg total daily dosage that is recommended.

I have included a link to the research study below


Kasper S and Dienel A. Multicenter, open-label,exploratory clinical trial with Rodiola rosea extract in patients suffering from burnout symptoms.  Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat. 2017. 13:889-898.

Eat Smart, Live Well, Look Great
Dr. Meschino

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