Research reveals that there are two primary compounds that may contribute to Rhodiola rosea’s possible effects: salidroside and rosavins.
Rosavins are a collection of compounds which include, rosavin, rosin and rosarin. They are known as a cinnamyl alcohol glycoside belonging to a group of compounds known as phenylpropanoids. They are amongst the main active phytochemical components in Rhodiola rosea, but studies remain inconclusive on how they specifically operate and their mechanisms of action. Some research suggests that rosavins may not be effective on their own, but must be combined with other more powerful compounds, like salidroside, to exhibit potential effects.
360-600 mg daily of an extract standardized for 1 percent rosavin
180-300 mg of an extract standardized for 2 percent rosavin
100-170 mg for an extract standardized for 3.6 percent rosavin
Alternately known as rhodioloside, salidroside is considered the more powerful component in Rhodiola rosea . Some studies even suggest salidroside may be more active than rosavin. Salidroside is a glucoside form of tyrosol and can be found in Rhodiola crenulata, a species related to Rhodiola rosea found specifically in China. Salidrosides have also been found in other unrelated plants species.
There appear to be about 60-90 species of rhodiola. The main rhodiola species of interest is rhodiola rosea as it contains both high concentrations of salidroside and rosavins. However, rhodiola rosea is in short supply these days and thus different species are being falsely sold as rhodiola rosea. Another fairly common species of rhodiola that has also seen extensive use in traditional medicine in Tibet. This species is called rhodiola crenulata, and it doesn’t contain any rosavins. Instead it contains high concentrations of salidroside and p-tyrosol, the stimulating and mood elevating compounds that are also present in rhodiola rosea.