1. Health
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

Discuss in my forum

Adrienne Dellwo

Rhodiola Supplements for Fibromyalgia & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

By November 1, 2010

Follow me on:

My 3 Favorite Supplements Series: Rhodiola Rosea (Blog Classic, Jan. 20, 2009)

Because I have drug sensitivities, like a lot of people with fibromyalgia (FMS) or chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS or ME/CFS), I'm not taking any medications for my FMS. Instead, I rely largely on supplements.

A few months ago, someone in my Fibromyalgia & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome community forum mentioned one I hadn't heard - rhodiola rosea (a.k.a. golden root). I did some research on it and decided it was one to try.

Rhodiola is a powerful antioxidant and adaptogen (adaptogens help your body balance and regulate itself). It hasn't been studied specifically for FMS or ME/CFS, but clinical trials show that it helps with many of the problems we have. According to researchers, rhodiola:

  • Protects the body from stress by balancing cortisol levels
  • Improves concentration and overall mental performance
  • Has anti-viral properties
  • Is a natural antidepressant
  • Boosts levels of the neurotransmitters we tend to be low in: serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine
  • Stabilizes emotions
  • Reduces insomnia

So you can see why I wanted to try it! At least in my experience, rhodiola does its job well. Since I started taking it, I've dealt with stress better, had less fibrofog, slept more deeply and felt better overall.

Who else has used rhodiola? What did it do for you? Leave your comments below!

Also See: Sublingual B Complex, Theanine

Learn more or join the conversation!


Photo George Diebold/Getty Images

May 13, 2009 at 8:15 pm
(1) Reiser says:

Every study I’ve read says that Rhodiola LOWERS cortisol. High cortisol is not protective in times of stress, it’s damaging.

May 14, 2009 at 12:54 pm
(2) Adrienne - Your Guide to FMS & ME/CFS says:


I’m glad you brought that up, because it does need clarification. Rhodiola raises morning cortisol, which is low in fibromyalgia and impairs our ability to deal with stress, but then in times of stress it protects the body from the effects of cortisol release, which keeps the stressful event from being so taxing to our bodies. So, in a way, it does both – which is exactly what we need.

October 6, 2011 at 10:59 am
(3) Patricia says:

I have read your comments about Rhodiola raising morning cortisol. I have low morning cortisol. How do you know rhodiola does this? What evidence or research do you have supporting this statement? I would like to try rhodiola for my hypoadrenia, CFS, FMS but don’t want to take something that will lower my cortisol more than it is… Thank you for your response.

September 21, 2009 at 2:33 pm
(4) Susan says:

Can rhodiola be taken the same time in the morning as thyroid medicine?

September 21, 2009 at 4:14 pm
(5) Adrienne -- Your Guide to Fibromyalgia & ME/CFS says:


What a great question! I haven’t been able to find anything saying not to, but that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily OK. I emailed our Thyroid Guide here at About.com to get a definitive answer for you, and I’ll let you know what she says.

September 23, 2009 at 12:19 pm
(6) Adrienne - Your Guide to Fibromyalgia & ME/CFS says:


I have an answer for you! According to Mary Shomon, the About.com Thyroid Guide, there’s no known problem with taking rhodiola at the same time as thyroid meds. (However, don’t combine thyroid meds with calcium, including calcium-fortified orange juice; iron; or soy.)

January 26, 2010 at 3:13 pm
(7) Michael says:

Hi Adrienne. Re. Reiser’s comment, I only seem to see references to Rhodiola actually lowering cortisol levels. I’m very curious to know more about it ‘raising morning cortisol’. I don’t have fibromyalgia but do have a rare eye condition that is aggravated (to put it mildly) when cortisol levels are elevated. So while most people would benefit from the herb’s protection, I’m not sure I would.

February 1, 2010 at 8:01 pm
(8) Adrienne Dellwo says:


As an adaptogen, rhodiola balances the stress hormones. Theoretically, it should keep them at a better level — however, in practice we know that different people react differently to things, and hormones are tricky business.

I’d suggest doing more research on adaptogens in general, and talking to your doctor.

Also, I apologize for some confusing wording in the post — I’ve changed it to be more clear.

November 1, 2010 at 10:45 am
(9) Dana says:

After having several episodes of raised liver enzymes I had an extremely painful liver biopsy which showed nothing. I then read an article in the paper about genetic testing for liver metabolism. I had 5 tests done and 4 showed problems with how my liver processes drugs. I now log into a website and enter any drug or supplement and the program will try to predict if I will process it too quickly or too slowly and suggest dosage changes.

November 5, 2010 at 4:11 pm
(10) mikew says:

whilst on the subject of supplements, has anyone any experience of black seed oil nigella salvita ?

November 5, 2010 at 8:14 pm
(11) Marie says:

Dana…What is the website you use for liver metabolism of drugs?? What is the genetic testing for liver metabolism you did and what type of doctor does this testing?

November 7, 2010 at 10:54 am
(12) Pat says:

I have been taking Rhodiola for a couple of years now. I was originally told that it would help athletes with muscle recovery after workouts and help to reduce their soreness. At that time I thought maybe it may help with the muscle pain that I experience, so I tried it. Initially, I didn’t notice a difference until I ran out of it for a couple of weeks. Now I never leave home without taking it.

November 7, 2010 at 7:53 pm
(13) SANDRA says:

Hi Adrienne I took Rhodiola Rosea about 4 yaers ago to help with my stressful experience with withdrawl symptoms after discontinuing a medication after I started the RR I had a terrible reaction my tongue was swollen so badly I couldn’t even swollow water or food it hurt to much, i was hoping that it would help me because my stress level and anxiety were off the charts, its good to see that it is helping others I’m finding out that I can’t tolerate certain supplements and medications the side affects are too painful.

November 10, 2010 at 12:32 am
(14) Zella says:

Hi Adrienne, Great ideas as always.

Anyone taking steroids should be vary wary as this would certainly mess with morning cortisol levels which are hard enough to keep stable.

Dana, if you are back on-line I’d love to know what kind of testing you’ve done and which website you were referring to.

January 9, 2012 at 6:42 am
(15) Hadas says:

Lowering cortisol helps both high cortisol and low cortisol! http://www.ploscompbiol.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pcbi.1000273
By lowering cortisol at a sufficient rate for enough time, one can allow ACTH to rise to sufficient levels to “reset” the system and correct underlying imbalances, if I understood the article correctly. So lowering cortisol treats hypocortisolism and enables to body to regulate itself correctly. Fibromyalgia is characterised by morning fatigue and insomnia… it seems that this is related to a defected circadian rythm, normally cortisol is highest in the morning and tapers throughout the day, perhaps cortisol in fibromyalgia is highest at night and this impedes sleep, prevents slow wave sleep and the body repair that it enables, etc. and so lowering cortisol in the evening will prevent hypocortisolism the next day and promote rejuvenating and restful sleep… this is all just speculation, I’m only a first year bio student and having fibromyalgia I read about it in my spare time. Another way to lower cortisol besides phosphytadil serine is rhodolia rosea, which can also help lower excitatory neurotransmitters that are found in high amounts in fibromyalgia (e.g aspartame, glutamate). Valerian can raise GABA which will lower glutamate. Good luck!

February 21, 2012 at 10:05 am
(16) Kim says:

I have FMS, RA, and Lupus. I take Lyrica and Cymbalta; aong with Synthroid for my throid problems. Is Rhodila Rosea safe to take with these drugs?

November 6, 2012 at 3:31 pm
(17) Jenny says:

I have found Rhodiola to make a huge difference in my stress levels. I am able to stay more calm in stressful situations now and my ability to concentrate has greatly improved. My fibro fog is virtually non existent and I have an overall better mood since I started taking it.

December 29, 2012 at 11:18 pm
(18) lynda says:

my daughter suffers from a chromosomal deletion syndrome she is mentaly disabled, and has not had a period for 3 yrs, about 4 months ago she refused to leave the house, it began to develop to agoraphobia, due to anxiety. about a month ago i read about rhodiola, gave it a try out of desperation, but without any real expectation that it would help, 3 or 4 days following massive doses, she was her old self again laughing and singing, and outgoing,,,and bonus last week her period started again..since i put the tincture in her juice she did not know she was taking it and even if she did would not have understood what it was anyway,,therefore, the improvement can only be attributed to the rhodiola and not any kind of placebo affect…

October 23, 2013 at 11:31 am
(19) Nancy Bookout says:

One of the best ways I have heard the effect of Rhodiola on Cortisol levels was yesterday on the Hallmark Network TV show, Home and Family, it was being discussed: It helps the body maintain the “Goldilocks level,” being that when Cortisol was too high, it helped lower it and when Cortisol was too low, it helped raise it.

December 30, 2013 at 4:55 pm
(20) Kelly says:


Can anyone tell me where I can purchase Rhodiola Rosea in lower doses and it by itself? I can only find it available in 500mg pills and the other one I found is a combination of herbs mixed together, I would like to take it alone to see if it does help. Also how long does it take to start to see some positive results? I have Fibromyalgia for 8 years now and I know there has to be something good for me to help the fatigue and my over all well being other than medications. Thank you for your help :-)

Leave a Comment

Line and paragraph breaks are automatic. Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title="">, <b>, <i>, <strike>
  1. About.com
  2. Health
  3. Fibromyalgia & Chronic Fatigue

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.

We comply with the HONcode standard
for trustworthy health
information: verify here.