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Rhodiola Rosea - Soviet Secrets Revealed

In our last article, we introduced you to What is Rhodiola and Where Does it Come From. In this article we will learn how the classified Soviet research from the Cold War era made its way to the United States.

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 Home 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 + Ramazanov Research = 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...
We dig deeper into the Health Benefits of Rhodiola in our next article, but for now we just wanted to give you a taste of some of the fascinating findings. Remember, Rhodiola is an adaptogen so it helps all systems of the body deal with stress without negative side effects.

Dr. Ramazanov meets an untimely death

On November 30, 2006 Dr. Ramazanov passed away suddenly. His death was a tremendous loss to the field of plant biochemistry and science in general. Those who knew Dr. Ramazanov speak of his endless energy to research and discover natural ingredients that could help people.

Dr. Ramazanov was the inventor of five science and technology patents. He published over 140 articles and presented more than 40 papers to science meetings. Dr. Ramazanov authored several natural products books and of course was responsible for bringing Rhodiola Rosea to the USA.

While Dr. Ramazanov will be greatly missed, his work lives on and the advances and discoveries he made regarding Rhodiola Rosea continue to flourish. In fact, the Rhodiola Rosea we use in our Perfect Acai Revive is from Dr. Ramazanov's company and made with his exclusive freeze dried process (much more on this later).


While the powers of Rhodiola Rosea were known by a few elite scientist in the Soviet Union for many years, it took the fall of the Soviet Union and the incredible efforts of Dr. Ramazanov to bring Rhodiola Rosea to the United States. Once Dr Ramazanov started to unearth and translate the previously classified studies on Rhodiola Rosea it did not take long for the rest of the world to become very interested in the health benefits of Rhodiola Rosea.

To learn more about how Rhodiola can help your health, please continue on to our next article...

Health Benefits of Rhodiola Rosea

Questions? Email us at more @ powersupplements.com

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