In our article, “Rhodiola Rosea, The Best Energy Supplement You Have Never Heard Of” we began examining the fascinating health benefits of Rhodiola Rosea. In this article we want to give a summary of some of the more impressive health benefits of Rhodiola and its history in the Soviet Union.
The Russian-Afghan War and Rhodiola
In 1980 Russia was involved in a brutal war in Afghanistan. Zakir Ramazanov, fresh off completing a double major in biochemistry and plant physiology in 1978 at a Russian University, was stationed in Afghanistan. Ramazanov wanted to go to graduate school and get his PhD, but first he had to serve his commitment in the Soviet Army.
During the winter of 1980 one of Ramazanov’s comrades from Siberia (Sergei) received a care package from home filled with Rhodiola Rosea roots. They would make a tea from the root and everyone who drank it felt stronger, more energetic, less fatigued and more able to deal with the harsh war conditions in Afghanistan.
“Zakir – a large, strong man who had played professional soccer – noticed that the soldiers who drank the tea were better able to hike through deep snow over high mountain passes, carrying full gear, AK-47s, and gas masks. And they did it on 4 hours of sleep a night. So Zakir decided to try Rhodiola rosea for himself. “Once I started drinking the tea, I woke up without the usual soreness in my muscles, and I recovered much faster after each mission,” he recalls.” - Excerpt from the book Rhodiola Revolution, Dr. Brown and Dr. Gerbarg, Rodale Press (pg. 145)
While Ramazanov was impressed with the Rhodiola tea, he had a war to deal with and soon forgot about the interesting Rhodiola tea from his friend Sergei.
Ramazanov Returns But The War Stays With Him
In 1981 Ramazanov earned his PhD in plant physiology and biochemistry from the Soviet Academy of Sciences. He had a job at the Soviet Institute of Energy working on the Mir Space station project. By all accounts Ramazanov was successful, but he found he was depressed and suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from his time in the Afghan war.
Ramazanov tried numerous herbs and sedatives, but nothing worked. Luckily, Ramazanov attended a lecture on Rhodiola and he immediately remembered Sergei’s tea. In 1984 he was giving a lecture in Siberia and decided to pick some Rhodiola and bring it home with him.
“After about 2 months, the depression went away completely. By then I no longer was overreacting to things, as the images of war had stopped running through my head. I became tremendously productive in my work, publishing 10 scientific papers in 1 year and receiving many academic honors and research opportunities. In fact, I first came to the United States on an invitation from the National Academy of Sciences.”
Zakir Ramazanov as quoted in Rhodiola Revolution (Rodale Press, pg 146-147)
The Fall of the Soviet Union = Rhodiola Secrets Revealed
Dr Ramazanov was now a man on a mission – to learn everything he could about the Rhodiola Rosea plant. He had come to the US and was doing further research on the Rhodiola Rosea plant and is generally credited for introducing Rhodiola Rosea in the USA.
In 1990, the Soviet Union collapsed and suddenly many classified documents became available to the Western World. Dr. Ramazanov spent years translating the hundreds of Soviet clinical studies that had been done on Rhodiola Rosea. He discovered that Rhodiola was used during the Cold War by Soviet Olympic athletes, the cosmonauts and elite Soviet Military forces.
Dr. Ramazanov was so amazed by Rhodiola that he started a business in NY to import Rhodiola direct from Siberia and make nutritional supplements. As Dr. Ramazanov unearthed more and more Soviet clinical studies, the western world started to do its own research on Rhodiola. In all, more than 180 studies have now been done on Rhodiola since 1960.
Here are just some of the secrets revealed about Rhodiola Rosea…
- Increase energy, endurance and stamina
- Helps reduce stress
- Uplifts moods
- Promotes mental clarity
- Improves sexual performance
- Promotes healthy sleep
- And Much, Much, More…
Learn More about Rhodiola Rosea
In part 3 of this series we will look at how Rhodiola can help the body in so many ways. For now, here are some great resources: