Rhodiola rosea, also known as golden root, is well known for its health benefits in humans, such as decreasing fatigue, anxiety and depression; boosting mood, memory and stamina; and preventing altitude sickness.
The herb is grown in cold climates at high elevations, and has been used for centuries by Scandinavians and Russians to reduce stress. It’s also thought to have antioxidant properties.
The current research carried out by UC Irvine researchers determined that the extract increased the average life span.”We found that Rhodiola actually increases lifespan on top of that of dietary restriction,” Mahtab Jafari, one of the study leaders, said. “It demonstrates that Rhodiola can act even in individuals who are already long-lived and healthy. This is quite unlike resveratrol, which appears to only act in overfed or unhealthy individuals.”
The researchers proved this by putting flies on a calorie-restricted diet. It has been shown that flies live longer when the amount of yeast they consume is decreased. Jafari and Schriner expected that if Rhodiola functioned in the same manner as dietary restriction, it would not work in these flies. But it did. They also tested Rhodiola in flies in which the molecular pathways of dietary restriction had been genetically inactivated. It still worked.
Not only did Rhodiola improve lifespan an average of 24 percent in both sexes and multiple strains of flies, but it also delayed the loss of physical performance in flies as they aged and even extended the lives of old flies. Jafari’s group previously had shown that the extract decreased the natural production of reactive oxygen species molecules in the fly mitochondria and protected both flies and cultured human cells against oxidative stress.
Samuel E. Schriner, Kevin Lee, Stephanie Truong, Kathyrn T. Salvadora, Steven Maler, Alexander Nam, Thomas Lee, Mahtab Jafari. Extension of Drosophila Lifespan by Rhodiola rosea through a Mechanism Independent from Dietary Restriction. PLoS ONE, 2013; 8 (5): e63886 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0063886