Depression affects approximately 19 million Americans each year. A new study, published in the journal of Phytomedicine, has revealed that roseroot may be an alternative natural treatment for major depressive disorder. This study represented the first randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, comparison trial of oral R. rosea (roseroot) extract versus the conventional antidepressant therapy sertraline for mild to moderate major depressive disorder.
The study participants consisted of 57 adults who were enrolled from December 2010 and April 2013 and were diagnosed with MDD (Major depressive disorder), and had two or more major depressive episodes, depressed mood and/or loss of interest or pleasure in life activities for at least 2 weeks, as well as symptoms including significant unintentional weight loss or gain, insomnia or sleeping too much, fatigue, and diminished ability to think or concentrate, and recurrent thoughts of death.
The participants received 12 weeks of standardized R. rosea extract, sertraline, or placebo. The impact among the groups was measured by the Hamilton Depression Rating (HAM-D), Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), and Clinical Global Impression (CGI).
Roseroot participants showed a 1.4 times the odds of improvement and patients on sertraline had 1.9 times odds of improvement versus those on a placebo. The participants revealed a 63% chance of experiencing substantial side effects, most commonly nausea and sexual dysfunction, from sertraline.
“These results are a bit preliminary but suggest that herbal therapy may have the potential to help patients with depression who cannot tolerate conventional antidepressants due to side effects,” Jun Mao, the lead researcher said. “Larger studies will be needed to fully evaluate the benefit and harm of R. rosea as compared to conventional antidepressants.”
Rhodiola rosea versus sertraline for major depressive disorder: a randomized placebo-controlled trial, Jun J. Mao, et al., Phytomedicine, published online 23 February 2015.