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What is the Difference Between Swanson's Two Types of Rhodiola?

Question: What is rhodiola? What is the difference between the two you carry, Swanson Premium Brand Rhodiola Rosea Root and Swanson Superior Herbs Rhodiola Rosea Extract? Is one preferred over the other?

There are more than 50 species of rhodiola, but it is the “rosea” form you will want to use as an herbal supplement. This variety commonly grows throughout the mountainous regions of the Northern Hemisphere, typically in Asia and parts of Europe. Some refer to rosea as “golden root” or “Arctic root.”

Rhodiola is typically considered to be an adaptogen and is believed to invigorate the body and mind to increase resistance to a multitude of stresses. The key to rhodiola's stress-fighting power lies in unique polyphenol constituents known as rosavins. Rosavins help control stress hormones while enhancing the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the primary energy source for all of our cells in the body. In addition to helping relieve tension, rhodiola is also beneficial for improving cognitive function, enhancing immune function and promoting overall well-being.

Turning to the discussion of the root verses the extract, it is important to note that herbal supplements are often available in two major forms, whole herb and standardized. Whole herbs have a variable level of active components. Potency will vary with growing conditions and time of harvest. Whole herb products are generally the mildest form of an herb and often have higher amounts recommended for suggested servings.

Standardized herbs have a set percentage of active components that is consistent batch to batch. Standardized herbs are not only more consistent than whole herbs, but also more potent as well, because the manufacturer can incorporate a higher percentage of active components during processing than the concentrations found in whole herbs. Recommended serving sizes are often smaller in terms of weight, such as milligrams, and in total number of capsules or tablets suggested per day.

This description of the types of herbal formulations is best used to distinguish the differences in our two rhodiola products. Swanson Premium Brand Rhodiola Rosea Root is a whole herb product. The content of 400 milligrams of rhodiola is exactly that—400 milligrams of the whole herb. Swanson Superior Herbs Rhodiola Rosea Extract contains 250 milligrams of the root extract standardized to 60% polyphenols including 5% rosavins.

While we really cannot choose the right formula for you—the root or the extract—we can share with you the two schools of thought. Some individuals advocate that a whole herb is better, as it naturally contains the full range of components in characteristic balance. In this state the active ingredients may be acting synergistically to produce the full effect of the herb.

On the other side, people who advocate extracts believe that less is more. The standardization is above and beyond the strength of the natural herb. Often, standardized forms are more concentrated in the active component so a lesser dosage is recommended. In either case, the effective elements are present, and the product is beneficial. Some also notice that the standardized herb may be too much for the digestive system, sometimes causing discomfort. We suggest trying what you personally think is best for you. If you have a sensitive system, you will want to start with the root; if not, the extract may be the choice for you.




This question was answered by a trained product specialist at Swanson Health Products. Do you have a question you’d like answered? Send it via email to drea658baic@compend.me.

(Note: as per industry regulations, we cannot and will not answer medical questions, make treatment or diagnosis recommendations or comment on disease inquiries. Such questions must be answered by your doctor or professional health care provider.)

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