Written by Joyce Smith, Staff Writer. An eight-week supplementation with Rhodiola rosea significantly improved symptoms of chronic fatigue in the one hundred participating subjects.

rhodiola - botanicalsA feeling of tiredness, a lack of energy, emotional stability and motivation, or difficulty in concentration and memory are all symptoms of fatigue 1 and when this fatigue, coupled with headache and muscle pain, persists for a time line of 6 months or more it becomes “chronic fatigue syndrome.” 1 According to a recent Netherlands study, approximately one percent of the male population meet the CDC’s established criteria for this syndrome. 2 Since no standard medication is available to treat chronic fatigue 3,4 researchers chose the adaptogenic herb Rhodiola rosea for this open-label, single-arm, multicenter 8-week trial to investigate the herbs therapeutic effects in a wide range of patients experiencing at least 2 months of fatigue. One hundred patients received 400 mg of Rhodiola rosea extract WS®1375 for 8 weeks.

Treatment effects, safety, and tolerability were measured using the following tools: Multidimensional Fatigue Inventory 20 (MFI-20), Numeric Analogue Scales (NASs), Numbers Connecting Test (NCT), Sheehan Disability Scale (SDS), Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI), Recent Perceived Stress Questionnaire (PSQ-R), Beck Depression Inventory II (BDI-II), Clinical Global Impressions (CGI). The following improvements occurred between baseline (initial screening) and 8-week follow-up:

  • MFI-20 assessments: significant improvement in all subscales (p < 0.0001) with greatest change in subscale of ‘general fatigue’ occurring during week one and changes in subscales of ‘physical and mental fatigue’, and ‘reduced activity and motivation’ continually improving to the end of the 8-week follow-up.
  • NASs of chronic fatigue symptoms: (post-exertional malaise, impairment of concentration and memory and unrefreshing sleep) improved significantly (P<0.001)
  • SAD: Significant improvement in categories of ‘impairment at work’, ‘impairment in social life’, and ‘impairment in family life.’ (P<0.001)
  • NCT and PSQ-R scores decreased significantly (p < 0.0001) indicating a PSQ-R total stress score decrease of 41.8% and a fatigue score reduction of 38.8%.
  • BDI-II: mean depression score improved significantly (p < 0.0001).
  • CGI global improvement: participants reported ‘very much’ or ‘much’ improved conditions at week 8, reflecting a ‘marked’ or ‘moderate’ improvement.

This study was an exploratory analyses only; however, it does serve as a hypothesis for future research. A second limitation was the lack of a control; however, this study had consistent and significant continuing improvements in all outcome parameters over the eight week trial, lending credence that a future long-term placebo-controlled trial using Rhodiola rosea extract WS®1375 would demonstrate an improvement in chronic fatigue and related symptoms in participating patients.

Source: Lekomtseva, Yevgeniya, Irina Zhukova, and Anna Wacker. “Rhodiola rosea in subjects with prolonged or chronic fatigue symptoms: results of an open-label clinical trial.” Complementary Medicine Research 24, no. 1 (2017): 46-52.

© 2017 The Author(s) Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial-No Derivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NCND 4.0) (http://www.karger.com/Services/OpenAccessLicense).

Click here to read the full text study.

Joyce Smith, BS, is a degreed laboratory technologist. She received her bachelor of arts with a major in Chemistry and a minor in Biology from  the University of Saskatchewan and her internship through the University of Saskatchewan College of Medicine and the Royal University Hospital in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. She currently resides in Bloomingdale, IL.


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