Stress is a key determinant of binge eating (BE). Since Rhodiola rosea is known to modulate stress responses, its effect in a model of BE was investigated. BE for highly palatable food (HPF) was evoked in female rats by three 8-day cycles of food restriction/re-feeding (for 4days 66% of the usual chow intake; for 4days food ad libitum) and acute stress on the test day (day 25). R. rosea dry extract (3% rosavin, 3.12% salidroside) or its active principles were given by gavage 1h before access to HPF. Only rats exposed to both food restrictions and stress exhibited BE in the first 15-60min after the stressful procedure. R. rosea extract 10mg/kg significantly reduced and 20mg/kg abolished the BE episode. R. rosea extract 20mg/kg abolished also stress-induced increase in serum corticosterone levels. The R. rosea active principle salidroside, but not rosavin, at doses present in the extract, dose-dependently reduced or abolished BE for the period in which it was elicited. In conclusion results indicate that R. rosea extracts may have therapeutic properties in bingeing-related eating disorders and that salidroside is the active principle responsible for this effect.
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