Rhodiola species: A comprehensive review of traditional use, phytochemistry, pharmacology, toxicity, and clinical study

Med Res Rev. 2019 Sep;39(5):1779-1850. doi: 10.1002/med.21564. Epub 2019 Jan 16.


Rhodiola species, belonging to the family Crassulaceae, have long been used as an adaptogen, tonic, antidepressant, and antistress medicine or functional food in Asia and Europe. Due to the valuable application, the growing demand of Rhodiola species has led to a rapid decrease in resource content. This review aims to summarize the integrated research progress of seven mainstream Rhodiola species. We first outline both traditional and current use of Rhodiola for the treatment of various diseases. A detailed summary and comparison of chemical, pharmacological, toxicological, and clinical studies of various Rhodiola species highlight recent scientific advances and gaps, which gives insights into the understanding of Rhodiola application and would be helpful to improve the situation of biological resources and diversities of Rhodiola plants.

Keywords: Bioactivity; Rhodiola species; chemical constituents; toxicology; traditional use.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry*
  • Plant Extracts / toxicity
  • Rhodiola / chemistry*


  • Plant Extracts