Stress management and the role of Rhodiola rosea: a review

Int J Psychiatry Clin Pract. 2018 Nov;22(4):242-252. doi: 10.1080/13651501.2017.1417442. Epub 2018 Jan 11.


Objective: Stress describes the physiological reaction to threat or pressure, which manifests as physical symptoms of exhaustion or energy loss and psychological symptoms, including irritability or tension. If untreated, chronic stress or burnout may develop, both are areas of unmet medical need. Evidence-based treatment and prevention measures are needed. Methods: Prevention strategies and existing treatment options for stress-related symptoms were evaluated to establish criteria for an adequate pharmacological approach to stress. The authors reviewed the literature to reach a clinically meaningful strategy for prevention and treatment of persistent stress symptoms and their consequences, including burnout and secondary diseases. Results: Current medication reveals a treatment gap. Most drugs target only psychological or physical stress symptoms. Furthermore, psychotropic medications sometimes prescribed for stress often have unacceptable side effects and bear a risk of overtreatment. Ideally pharmacological therapy should afford comprehensive treatment of all stress symptoms with a favourable safety profile. Conclusions: Rhodiola rosea extract (RRE) fulfils important requirements. It is the main adaptogen approved by the HMPC/EMA for the indication 'stress' and influences the release of stress hormones while boosting energy metabolism as revealed in animal literature. RRE offers comprehensive treatment of stress symptoms and can prevent chronic stress and stress-related complications.

Keywords: burnout; stress.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Phytotherapy*
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Rhodiola*
  • Stress, Psychological / drug therapy*
  • Stress, Psychological / metabolism
  • Stress, Psychological / physiopathology
  • Stress, Psychological / prevention & control


  • Plant Extracts