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Health & Nutrition
Zaheera Swing
Nutritional Therapist & Herbalist BSc Hons Nutritional Science + NTPD

Ashwagandha Vs. Rhodiola: The Differences, Pros & Cons Of These 2 Adaptogenic Herbs

Ashwagandha and Rhodiola are both potent adaptogenic herbs known to help the body adapt to chronic stress and maintain balance. Ashwagandha, an essential herb used in traditional medicine like Ayurveda, is traditionally used to relieve stress, improve sleep, and increase concentration, while Rhodiola, native to the cold regions of Europe, Asia, and North America, has been used for centuries to boost physical endurance, combat fatigue, increase energy levels and improve mood. They offer a multitude of similar uses and benefits, including stress relief, enhanced physical performance, and neuroprotective properties. However, their mechanisms and specific benefits differ, and they can interact with other medications, so it's important to consult with a healthcare provider before starting any new supplement regimen.




What is Ashwagandha?



Ashwagandha, also known by the Latin name Withania Somnifera or Winter Cherry, is an evergreen shrub within the nightshade family and is native to India, Africa, and the Middle East.


The Ashwagandha plant has been used in Ayurveda, a traditional Indian medicine paradigm, for thousands of years to offer a natural solution for chronic stress and anxiety, low mood, fatigue, fertility issues, and overall vitality. Its primary bioactive components are withanolides, particularly withaferin A and withanolide D.



What Are The Benefits Of Ashwagandha?


Ashwagandha offers health benefits such as:

  • Reduces stress and anxiety
  • Improves cognitive function
  • Enhances physical performance
  • Improves sleep quality and duration
  • Increases thyroid hormones 
  • Boosts vitality and libido
  • Supports fertility in men

Scientific research has backed these benefits in multiple studies, which show the effects of Ashwagandha can lower cortisol levels, improve brain function, enhance muscle health and growth, and even boost testosterone levels. [1] [2] [3] [4]

Learn more about the health benefits of Ashwagandha here.




What is Rhodiola?



Rhodiola, also known as Rhodiola Rosea or golden root, is a perennial flowering plant native to cold regions of Europe, Asia, and North America. Used in traditional Scandinavian and Russian folk medicine, it is known for its stress-resistance and endurance-enhancing properties. Studies have shown that Rhodiola contains over 140 active ingredients, with the two most powerful being rosavin and salidroside. [5]



What Are The Benefits of Rhodiola Rosea?


Rhodiola is known to help the body resist physical and mental stress, as well as:

  • Boost energy
  • Increase cognitive function
  • Enhance physical performance
  • Improve mood

Scientific studies have supported these claims. For example, a randomized controlled trial found that Rhodiola supplementation significantly improved stress related fatigue after 28 days. [6]

Another study found that taking Rhodiola improved mental performance and reduced mental fatigue in physicians during their night duties. [7]




What Are The Differences Between Ashwagandha and Rhodiola?


The main difference between Ashwagandha and Rhodiola lies in their origins, active compounds, and specific health benefits. While Ashwagandha is often associated with improvements in anxiety, stress and sleep, Rhodiola is more commonly linked to combating fatigue, enhancing cognition, and boosting mood.

That said, Rhodiola and Ashwagandha are both adaptogens, meaning they can help the body adapt to stress. This shared property makes them commonly used in formulations intended to support stress management and overall well-being.



1. Health Differences Between Ashwagandha and Rhodiola


While both Ashwagandha and Rhodiola have potential health benefits, they may work differently depending on individual needs and responses.

Ashwagandha is especially beneficial to support the adrenal glands, making it more suitable for long-term stress management. People who take Ashwagandha also notice enhanced sleep quality which could be particularly beneficial for individuals with insomnia or other sleep disorders.

Rhodiola, on the other hand, might be more effective for acute stress, fatigue, and cognitive challenges. It's often used to enhance mental performance, reduce symptoms of depression, and boost physical performance, making it a popular choice among students and athletes.

Let's take a closer look at the mechanisms behind the health differences of each herb:


Stress and Anxiety


Ashwagandha and Rhodiola are both excellent for stress and anxiety management. Ashwagandha works by reducing cortisol levels and improving the balance of critical neurotransmitters, leading to a calmer state of mind and body. Rhodiola helps the body adapt to stress by influencing key stress-response systems.

Clinical trials have shown promising results for both herbs, however the research on Ashwagandha is much more extensive on its uses and benefits for stress and anxiety.  [8] [9]





When it comes to sleep, Ashwagandha may have an edge over Rhodiola. Research shows that Ashwagandha benefits sleep duration and sleep quality by promoting relaxation and regulating the body's stress response and circadian rhythm. [10]

Rhodiola, while beneficial for combating fatigue, is not traditionally used for sleep improvement since it has stimulating and energizing properites. 



Physical Performance


Ashwagandha and Rhodiola both exhibit potential benefits for physical performance. Studies suggest that Ashwagandha improves cardiorespiratory endurance, muscle strength, and muscle growth. [11] [12]

Similarly, research has shown that Rhodiola can help improve exercise performance by reducing perceived exertion and enhancing oxygen transport. Both herbs' distinct mechanisms of action in physical performance have been supported by scientific evidence and studies, making them popular among athletes and fitness enthusiasts. [13]


Cognitive Function


The neuroprotective properties of Ashwagandha and Rhodiola make them beneficial for cognitive function. Ashwagandha's withanolides may prevent neuron degeneration and improve memory [14].

Rhodiola, due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, preliminary research shows it may improve mental speed and learning capabilities. [15] [16]





Ashwagandha and Rhodiola both have potential immune-boosting properties. Ashwagandha has been shown to positively modulate the immune response [17], while Rhodiola's antioxidant properties can protect against oxidative stress, a common immune system disruptor. [18]



Hormonal Balance


Ashwagandha is considered to have a greater effect on various hormones throughout the body compared to Rhodiola. Ashwagandha is known to regulate the stress hormone cortisol and boost testosterone levels, positively affecting the circadian rhythm and reproductive health (in men). [19]

Also, studies have found that Ashwagandha boosts thyroid hormone levels in those with hypothyroidism (low thyroid function). [20]

Rhodiola has been shown to support healthier cortisol levels, however, it is not directly linked with hormonal balance in other areas. [21]





Both Ashwagandha and Rhodiola may show promise in managing depression. Ashwagandha's stress-reducing properties can indirectly influence mood, while animal research shows Rhodiola supports dopamine synthesis (a feel good neurotransmitter in the brain) which could help reduce depression symptoms. [22]

It's important to note that these herbs should not replace conventional treatment for depression, and their use should be guided by a healthcare provider. 




2. Safety Differences Between Ashwagandha and Rhodiola


Both Rhodiola and Ashwagandha are generally considered safe for most people when used appropriately. However, they can interact with certain medications and may not be suitable for everyone - especially if you have a health condition.

Ashwagandha can interact with medications for diabetes, hypertension, anxiety, and thyroid function. It's also not recommended for pregnant women and those with hyperthyroidism or autoimmune conditions. Some people can also experience potential side effects such as upset stomach, diarrhea, or nausea.

Rhodiola can interact with antidepressants and blood thinners so it should be avoided by individuals taking these medications. It's also not recommended for pregnant women or those with low blood pressure. While the potential side effects of Rhodiola are generally mild and short-lived, some individuals might experience dizziness, dry mouth, or restlessness.

Before starting any new supplement regimen, it's always best to speak with a healthcare provider to decide which supplement is right for you. 




3. Consumption Method Differences Between Ashwagandha and Rhodiola


Both Ashwagandha and Rhodiola are available in various forms, allowing individuals to choose a desired consumption method based on their personal preferences and needs.

Ashwagandha, due to its widespread use and popularity, tends to be available in a wider variety of forms. The root extract can be found in capsules and tablets, which are often used for ease and convenience. Ashwagandha powder, derived from the dried root, can be mixed into smoothies, teas, or other beverages.

In recent years, Ashwagandha gummies have also entered the market, providing a tasty and enjoyable way to consume this herb, particularly for those who may find the taste of the powder or the act of swallowing capsules unpleasant. Additionally, there are also Ashwagandha teas and tinctures available for those who prefer these methods of consumption.

Rhodiola is typically found in capsule or tablet form, and less frequently it's also available as a powder or tincture. The powder can be mixed into drinks, similar to ashwagandha powder, though it's not as widely available. The tincture form can provide a quick and convenient method of consumption.




What Are The Overall Pros and Cons When Comparing Ashwagandha To Rhodiola?


When comparing Ashwagandha and Rhodiola, several pros and cons should be considered, with each herb having its own variety of benefits and drawbacks.

Ashwagandha is often regarded as the superior choice to promote calm and stress relief due to its ability to lower cortisol levels and manage stress responses. It's also been studied for its beneficial impact on thyroid health, helping to boost thyroid hormone levels, making it advantageous for those with hypothyroidism.

Furthermore, Ashwagandha is available in a variety of forms, such as capsules, powders, teas, and gummies, providing flexibility in consumption methods. 

However, when taken at high doses, side effects of Ashwagandha may include digestive upset, nausea and diarrhea. It also shouldn't be used in pregnancy or by people with hyperthyroidism or autoimmune conditions.

Rhodiola, on the other hand, is well-known for its fatigue-fighting and cognitive-enhancing properties, potentially offering more benefit for energy, endurance, and mental clarity. Potential side effects include dizziness, dry mouth, or excessive salivation in some cases and some individuals find Rhodiola increases their anxiety symptoms. 

Unlike Ashwagandha, Rhodiola is usually found only in capsule, pill or tincture form, which might be a disadvantage for those who prefer other methods of consumption. Also, while Rhodiola has been studied for its beneficial effects on mood and depression, its effects on other aspects of hormonal health are not as well researched as Ashwagandha's.



What Are The Advantages of Ashwagandha Compared To Rhodiola?


When it comes to comparing Ashwagandha Vs Rhodiola, there are some areas where Ashwagandha has more advantages, such as:

  • Ashwagandha has been more extensively studied than Rhodiola.
  • Ashwagandha does not have the "stimulant" properties that Rhodiola does, making it a better choice for those with anxiety or insomnia. 
  • Unlike Rhodiola, research shows that Ashwagandha boosts thyroid hormones, which can be beneficial for those with hypothyroidism (low thyroid function). 
  • The wider range of consumption forms, from capsules to gummies and teas, offers more flexibility and convenience in incorporating Ashwagandha into one's daily routine compared to Rhodiola. 




How To Use Ashwagandha and Rhodiola



  • Ashwagandha: The recommended dosage of Ashwagandha ranges from 500mg-1900mg per day for men and women, split into 2-3 separate doses. Certain clinical trials have used 600 mg of Ashwagandha per day, while other studies suggest higher doses may be more effective such as 1300-1900 mg per day of full-spectrum ashwagandha root extract.

    Take Ashwagandha with or without food at any time of the day or night.

    Make sure to speak to your doctor before adding Ashwagandha to your routine, especially if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, taking medications, or have any pre-existing health conditions.

  • Rhodiola: The standard recommended dose can range from 200-600 mg of Rhodiola Rosea per day, usually divided into 2 doses. It's best to take Rhodiola before meals and it's recommended to start with a lower dose and gradually increase it over time.

    Taking Rhodiola in the morning is recommended due to its potentially energizing properties.



Can Ashwagandha and Rhodiala Be Taken Together?


Yes, it's generally considered safe to take Ashwagandha and Rhodiola together, and they are often combined in supplement formulas aimed at boosting energy, reducing stress, and supporting overall wellness. 




NutriRise Ashwagandha: The Superior Choice



NutriRise is a health and wellness brand providing dietary supplements to support the health of your mind, body, and spirit, including our top-selling Organic Ashwagandha, used by over 1 million happy customers.

Co-founders Basim & Ramsha Mirza started NutriRise in 2016, fuelled by the desire to transform their own health through the power of nutrition and ancient wisdom. NutriRise is now backed by a world-class team of researchers, chemists, biologists, doctors, and nutritionists. Every supplement we provide is produced in the USA in a CGMP-certified facility for unparalleled safety, purity, and quality.

At NutriRise, we ensure the quality and effectiveness of our Organic Ashwagandha Capsules and Ashwagandha Gummies by rigorous third-party testing. This stringent protocol helps us guarantee that the Ashwagandha we offer is of the highest standard. 

We also ensure you're getting the most potent and effective form of Ashwagandha by only using the root extract of the ashwagandha plant. This delivers the perfect, safe amount of bioactive withanolides for optimal thyroid support, stress relief, sleep and mood, hormonal balance, and overall vitality, making it the superior choice. 

Finally, we go beyond just creating and selling products; at NutriRise, we care deeply about the customer experience too. Through our efficient delivery system, we ensure your Ashwagandha reaches you in perfect condition. By choosing NutriRise, you can trust in the quality and potency of each product, from our meticulous production processes to its arrival at your doorstep. 




NutriRise Superfood Greens: Your Daily Dose of Rhodiola & Ashwagandha



Rhodiola and Ashwagandha each come with their own amazing benefits... Imagine if there was a supplement that combined the stress-busting power of both of these adaptogenic herbs into one? Introducing NutriRise AdaptoZen Superfood Greens, co-formulated with Dr. Michael Beckwith! 

Unlike other superfood powders on the market, AdaptoZen Superfood Greens provides you with a powerful dose of adaptogenic herbs like Ashwagandha and Rhodiola, alongside the superfood power of 47 potent plant-based ingredients, including super greens like wheat grass and spirulina, prebiotic fiber, essential fatty acids, digestive enzymes, probiotics, and more in just one delicious scoop.




Key Points


  • Ashwagandha, or Withania somnifera, is a critical herb in traditional medicine paradigms like Ayurveda for stress relief, cognitive improvement, physical performance enhancement, and hormone regulation.

  • Rhodiola Rosea, native to cold regions of Europe, Asia, and North America, is traditionally used for stress resistance, cognitive function improvement, and physical performance enhancement.

  • While both Ashwagandha and Rhodiola have stress-relieving properties and improve physical performance, their active components and mechanisms of action differ.

  • Both herbs can interact with certain medications. Ashwagandha may enhance the effects of CNS depressants, and Rhodiola may interact with anti-depressants like SSRIs and MAO inhibitors.

  • Both Ashwagandha and Rhodiola are generally safe for most people when taken at recommended doses, but may cause mild side effects such as dizziness, dry mouth, and sleepiness.

Note: This article is for informational purposes only and not intended for use as medical advice. Always consult your doctor before taking ashwagandha or rhodiola.


Do you want to learn more about using Ashwagandha with other supplements or herbs? Read more here:


Synergistic Ashwagandha Combos For Optimal Results

The Benefits Of Taking Ashwagandha Root & Maca Root Together

Ashwagandha & L-Theanine: The Perfect Combo For Stress Relief And A Good Night’s Sleep

Unlock The Power Of Ashwagandha And Coffee: Increase Energy, Reduce Stress & Enhance Health!

The Powerful Benefits Of Magnesium & Ashwagandha: How To Take Them Together For Maximum Effect

Zaheera Swing
Nutritional Therapist & Herbalist BSc Hons Nutritional Science + NTPD
As a qualified Nutritional Therapist (BSc Hons Nutritional Science + NTPD), Zaheera Swing has a deep passion for restoring balance and harmony to the body through the modalities of nutritional science, herbalism, and holistic lifestyle practices. Using the functional medicine model coupled with wisdom from ancient paradigms, she aims to provide insight into the underlying root causes of poor health and the holistic tools we can harness to enhance the well-being of mind, body, and spirit.
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