Rhodiola rosea boosts heart muscle capacity in animal study

Salidroside – If endurance athletes react in the same way to Rhodiola as the rats that doctors at the Chi-Mei Medical Center in Taiwan used in their experiments, then Rhodiola rosea is an even more interesting supplement for endurance sports than you already thought. The Taiwanese published the results of their study in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, showing that Rhodiola rosea boosts the production of PPAR-delta in the cells.

Endurance athletes who are not afraid of molecular science know that PPAR-delta is a fatty acid sensor in fat cells and muscle cells. The better the mechanism works the more fat you burn, the higher your metabolic rate is and the greater your endurance capacity. Substances that stimulate PPAR-delta, such as GW501516, help significantly improve endurance performance, whether or not they are combined with Aicar or a NO booster.

The Taiwanese researchers already knew from other animal studies that supplementation with Rhodiola rosea protects the heart muscle from stress. [Eksp Klin Farmakol. 1994 Nov-Dec; 57(6): 61-3.] They had discovered themselves that diabetes can cause heart failure as a result of reduced PPAR-delta activity. That’s why the researchers wanted to know whether they could help the heart function of rats with diabetes by using Rhodiola rosea – and if this was possible, whether the effect had anything to do with PPAR-delta.

The researchers gave diabetic rats [STZ] 75 mg ethanol extract of Rhodiola rosea every day for three weeks. They observed that the ability of the heart muscle to pump blood [Cardiac Output] was maintained, while this ability in untreated STZ rats was lower than in healthy animals [Contrl].


The researchers discovered that the heart cells of the STZ rats produced less PPAR-delta than the heart cells of healthy animals. They also noticed that supplementation with Rhodiola rosea boosted the concentration of PPAR delta to a more or less normal level.

“Increased cardiac expression of PPAR-delta is involved in Rhodiola–ethanol extract-induced increase of cardiac output in STZ-diabetic rats”, the researchers write in summary. “This finding provides a new mechanism of action for Rhodiola.”

If Rhodiola does indeed boost the production of PPAR-delta in healthy endurance athletes, then a whole range of new performance-enhancing possibilities opens up. For example, fish fatty acids are PPAR agonists, and Artemisia iwayomogi is a PPAR-delta-agonist.

To name but a few ideas.

Increase of myocardial performance by Rhodiola-ethanol extract in diabetic rats.

Cheng YZ, Chen LJ, Lee WJ, Chen MF, Jung Lin H, Cheng JT.

Department of Emergency Medicine, Chi-Mei Medical Center, Yung Kang, Tainan City, Taiwan, ROC.


Rhodiola rosea (also known as golden root or roseroot) is a perennial plant of the Crassulaceae family that grows in the Arctic and in the mountainous regions of Europe, Asia, and North America. The rhizome and roots of this plant have been long used as traditional medicine in Eastern Europe and Asia for enhancing physical and mental performance.

The present study is designed to investigate the cardiac action of Rhodiola-ethanol extract in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats (STZ-diabetic rats) with heart failure.

Diabetes was induced in Wistar rats by injection of streptozotocin. We measured the changes of body weight, water intake, and food intake in three groups of age-matched rats; the normal control received vehicle, STZ-diabetic rat received Rhodiola-ethanol extract or vehicle. Cardiac output, heart rate, blood pressure, and hemodynamic dP/dt in addition to plasma insulin and glucose level were also determined. The mRNA and protein levels of PPAR? were measured using real-time PCR and Western blotting, respectively.

Food intake, water intake and blood glucose were raised in STZ-diabetic rats showing lower body weight and plasma insulin, as compared with the control. Also, cardiac output, heart rate, blood pressure and hemodynamic dP/dt were markedly reduced in STZ-diabetic rats indicating the heart failure physiologically. After a 21-day treatment with Rhodiola-ethanol extract, cardiac output was raised in STZ-rats while the diabetic parameters were not modified. The PPAR? expression of both mRNA and protein was markedly elevated in the heart of STZ-rats receiving treatment with Rhodiola-ethanol extract. Also, the increased phosphorylation level of cardiac troponin-I was restored by this treatment with Rhodiola-ethanol extract. Otherwise, increase of cardiac output by Rhodiola-ethanol extract was blocked by antagonist of PPAR? in STZ-diabetic rats.

Our results suggest that ethanol extract of Rhodiola has an ability to increase the cardiac output in STZ-diabetic rats showing heart failure. Also, increase of PPAR-? is responsible for this action of Rodiola-ethanol extract.

Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.

PMID: 23044195 [PubMed – in process]

Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23044195