Rhodiola – The Little Known Fertility Herb

Rhodiloa rosea (golden root or rose root) is an herb most commonly known for its ability improve mood, alleviate depression, reduce fatigue, and enhance mental and physical performance. However, it may have dramatic benefit for women trying to get pregnant and struggling with female infertility.

Rhodiola grows in cold weather climates throughout the world and has been used for centuries in Russian and Scandinavian folk medicine to help its users deal with the cold winters. Rhodiola has been used to enhance physical endurance and work productivity and for the treatment and prevention of altitude sickness, depression, anemia, nervous system disorders, fatigue, impotence, depression, infections and gastrointestinal ailments. This useful plant is commonly referred to as an adaptogenic herb. Adaptogenic herbs have broad effects which help the body respond to physical, emotional, and chemical stress. They have tonifying effects which balance endocrine hormones and the immune system.

Emotional stress has detrimental effects on a woman’s fertility. Chronic stress in women may lead to menstrual irregularities, hormonal changes, impaired ovulation, weight gain, and increased cortisol and prolactin levels, all factors which interfere with conception. For naturopathic physicians dealing appropriately with stress has always been a key aspect of treating many conditions including infertility. Adaptogenic herbs, such as Rhodiola, have been the secret weapon of naturopathic physicians and herbalist to help their patients overcome the negative physical and emotional consequences of stress.

The effect of Rhodiola extract in women suffering from amenorrhea (loss of menstrual cycles) was examined. Forty women with amenorrhea were given Rhodiola (either 100 mg of the extract orally twice a day for 2 weeks, or 1 ml of an injectable preparation intramuscularly for 10 days). Normal menses were restored in 25 women, 11 of whom became pregnant. Also, noted was that one of the authors of the study has treated several women in his practice who had failed to conceive with standard fertility drugs, and who become pregnant within several months of beginning Rhodiola extract.

Over 60% of the women had normal menstruation return, which is quite impressive. Over a quarter of the women becoming pregnant is equally impressive, if not more so. To put that in perspective, recent research shows that the commonly prescribed fertility Clomid is effective 16% of the time for unexplained infertility. When comparing this study of Rhodiola to advanced reproductive techniques such as in vitro fertilization(IVF) which can cost $15,000 per treatment cycle, Rhodiola breaks even with IVF leading to pregnancy 26% of the time in a recent study. This little known and often overlooked herb has dramatic benefit for helping women enhance fertility and become pregnant even when compared to the most advanced techniques available.

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