We chose Rhodiola for this month’s NewsWire because of its growing use to increase stamina and to mitigate stress. This column is provided by the Integrative Medicine Service at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

Rhodiola 1Rhodiola rosea is a perennial plant that grows at high altitudes in the Arctic regions of Europe and Asia. Over the last two decades, it has become increasingly popular in supplemental form as a stress-reliever, as an immune function-booster and as an energy enhancer. Clinical data indicate that rhodiola increases physical endurance, mental performance and lowers fatigue associated with stress. Exploratory studies suggest it may also benefit patients with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and mild-to-moderate depression. And a bioactive compound of rhodiola, salidroside, showed cardio-protective effects in breast cancer patients receiving chemotherapy. Larger studies are needed to confirm these effects.

The last two decades have seen a significant increase in dietary supplement use by cancer patients. Despite the proliferation of Web sites that contain information about dietary supplements, finding a reliable source can be overwhelming. The Integrative Medicine Service at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center developed and maintains a free Web site “About Herbs” (www.mskcc.org/aboutherbs) that provides objective and unbiased information about herbs, vitamins, minerals and other dietary supplements, and unproven anticancer treatments. Each of the 276 and growing number of entries has healthcare professional and patient versions that are regularly updated with the latest research findings. The free About Herbs App, compatible with iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch devices, can be downloaded at http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/about­herbs/id554267162?mt=8. For more information, link to the MSKCC monograph.