Background: Rhodiola rosea is an herbal supplement that many in the general population in Russia and elsewhere in the world have used for decades to alleviate everyday anxiety, depression, and insomnia. Whether R. rosea is effective in reducing similar symptoms in clinical samples is unknown. The goal of this pilot study was to evaluate whether R. rosea is effective in reducing symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).
Method: Ten (10) participants with a DSM-IV diagnosis of GAD, recruited from the UCLA Anxiety Disorders Program and between the ages of 34 and 55, were enrolled in this study from November 2005 to May 2006. Participants received a total daily dose of 340 mg of R. rosea extract for 10 weeks. Assessments included the Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale (HARS), the Four-Dimensional Anxiety and Depression Scale, and the Clinical Global Impressions of Severity/Improvement Scale.
Results: Individuals treated with R. rosea showed significant decreases in mean HARS scores at endpoint (t=3.27, p=0.01). Adverse events were generally mild or moderate in severity, the most common being dizziness and dry mouth.
Conclusions: Significant improvement in GAD symptoms was found with R. rosea, with a reduction in HARS scores similar to that found in clinical trials. These preliminary findings warrant further exploration of treatment with R. rosea in clinical samples.