Rhodiola rosea—also also known as golden root, rose root, Arctic root—is a medicinal plant that shown adaptogenic properties. But more recently, it’s been reported to contain active compounds with antimicrobial activity.
A study published in Frontiers in Nutrition randomly divided marathon runners into two groups: one group ingested 600 mg/d of Rhodiola rosea (n=24, 6 female, 18 male) while the other supplemented a placebo (n=24, 7 females, 17 males) for 30 days prior to, the day of and seven days post-marathon (July 31, 2015). The goal of this study was to measure the antiviral and antibacterial properties of the bioactive metabolites of Rhodiola rosea in the serum of experienced marathon runners following supplementation.
Post marathon, the runners who supplemented Rhodiola rosea did not show attenuation of marathon-induced susceptibility of HeLa cells to killing by vesicular stomatitis virus. However, the use of Rhodiola rosea induced antiviral activity at early times post-infection by delaying an exercise-dependent increase in virus replication compared to placebo. Serum from both groups collected 15 minutes post-marathon significantly promoted the growth of Escherichia coli in cultures as compared to serum collected the day before the marathon. Furthermore, the serum from subjects ingesting Rhodiola rosea did not display antibacterial properties at any time point as indicated by a lack of group differences immediately or 1.5 hours post-marathon. These results indicate that bioactive compounds in the serum of subjects ingesting Rhodiola rosea may exert protective effects against virus replication following intense and prolonged exercise by inducing antiviral activity.
This root could show promise in sport nutrition-related foods and beverages for post-exercise viral protection.