Smart Drugs,

#057: Rhodiola rosea: “Santa’s Stimulant”

December 22, 2014

For our 2014 Christmas edition of Smart Drug Smarts, we’re joined by Dr. Patricia Gerbarg, co-author of The Rhodiola Revolution and co-founder of Breath–Body–Mind.  Dr. Gerbarg introduces us to herbal supplement Rhodiola rosea, which is used to increase stamina, decrease mental fatigue, combat stress, and ease the negative effects of living in high altitude societies.

We’ll also learn a 60-second brain-health test you can do at home, how you could teach yourself synesthesia, and how best to prepare yourself for an encounter with a fire-breathing bull!

Show Notes
  • 00:00:34

    Santa's Stimulant: Rhodiola Rosea

  • 00:01:44

    This Week in Neuroscience: Brain Training Can Teach Synesthesia-Like Perception

  • 00:04:28

    iTunes Review thank-you

  • 00:05:11

    Introduction to Dr. Patricia Gerbarg

  • 00:06:22

    What's the difference between "true" adaptogens and herbs with adaptogenic properties?

  • 00:07:03

    How liquid chromatography can help you identify active components of different drugs

  • 00:08:53

    The history of Rhodiola rosea or "the golden root" and its use in high altitude societies

  • 00:12:37

    Rhodiola rosea in Greek Mythology

  • 00:16:!9

    Effects of Rhodiola rosea on mental and physical energy levels and cognition

  • 00:18:53

    ATP, cellular repair systems, and aging

  • 00:20:48

    Anti-aging and stress studies on Rhodiola rosea and other adaptogens

  • 00:23:30

    Adaptogens in space

  • 00:25:15

    How Rhodiola rosea research was brought to the United States from Russia

  • 00:26:00

    Dr. Gerbarg and Dr. Brown's first English-language review of Rhodiola rosea, and how research has progressed since then

  • 00:27:12

    Limitations and risks of Rhodiola rosea and differences in reactions to dosages

  • 00:30:57

    Rhodiola rosea in sports drinks and a question about L-theanine

  • 00:32:24

    Half-life range and best times of day to supplement

  • 00:33:15

    Dr. Gerbarg's personal usage of Rhodia rosea, her experience with Lyme disease, and her book, The Rhodiola Revolution

  • 00:35:53

    Rhodiola rosea and its role in fertility and cancer treatment

  • 00:38:57

    An invitation to join some of us at Smart Drug Smarts in a therapeutic water fast

  • 00:39:45

    Ruthless Listener-Retention Gimmick: 60-Second Brain Health Test


  1. Don Barrett says:

    Love the show for sure. I am now taking Oxalo Acetate and am considering the Adapt formula discussed in Episode 57 on Rhodiola Rosea.
    My wife has many of the same systemic issues experienced by Dr. Gerbarg and perhaps it will help her as well.

    This is truly my favorite podcast.


    1. Jesse Lawler says:

      Thanks Don! Really appreciate it. I’m going to be trying oxaloacetate myself, too — but am getting my blood chemistry tested first so I’ll understand my baselines. Be expecting that on an episode in the next month. 🙂

  2. Bill Casey says:

    Jesse, I was listening to this interview and found myself reflecting on how I continue to be impressed with the quality of your questions. You have a way of connecting dots and advancing the usefulness of the conversation; it’s really quite admirable.
    Best regards,

    1. Jesse Lawler says:

      Thanks Bill. Seriously appreciated. Honestly, I’m having more and more fun with the podcast; getting to talk with the guests is a significant highlight of my week, every week.

  3. Robert says:

    Wow. This was a great interview. Dr. Garberg seems to really know her stuff. Great find on who to interview, Jesse.

    I just discovered this podcast, and hope you keep up the good work. Well done!

    1. Jesse Lawler says:

      Thanks Robert! Glad you enjoyed it. It’s always nice when we can grab an interviewee who literally “wrote the book” on a subject. 😉

  4. ben says:

    Since Rhodiola Rosea’s health properties may come from the fact that it can grow under extreme conditions like in the Caucasus Mountains.. if I plant it locally, would it it have the same toughness nutrients? Maybe a question for John Kohler.

    Regarding synesthesia, there was a good episode on Invisibilia where someone that has it, describes the experience, pretty strange!

    1. Brad James says:

      I’m looking for a link to the ‘Adapt Formulation’ that Dr. Garberg talks about at the 31 min. Mark of the interview.

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