Ashwagandha vs. Rhodiola: Key Differences | Botanic Tonics

Ashwagandha vs. Rhodiola: Key Differences | Botanic Tonics

Reviewed by Jamal Bouie

Ashwagandha vs. Rhodiola: Unveiling the Key Differences

If you’re keeping up with the latest developments in the health food scene, you may have heard of two popular adaptogens: ashwagandha and rhodiola. But what can these plants really do to boost your health (and what is an adaptogen, anyway)?

While they may be tricky to spell, they’re easy to integrate into your daily wellness routine, offering unique support for your mind, body, and emotions. 

In this article, we’ll explore ashwagandha vs. rhodiola supplements, breaking down their medicinal properties, the potential benefits these adaptogenic herbs can offer, and which option may be right for you based on your health, lifestyle, and goals.

Adaptogens Uncovered: Understanding Ashwagandha and Rhodiola

While you may have heard of adaptogens, you may be wondering what they are and whether they can actually help improve your mood, energy levels, and overall health. Adaptogens are plants and fungi that help your body adapt to stress, helping it to be more resilient against symptoms like fatigue and anxiety.[1]

Since an adaptogen can help your body cope with stress levels, it supports your overall health, well-being, and may be able to provide stress relief or reduce stress-related symptoms.

There are three main qualities an ingredient needs to be classified as an adaptogen:[1]

  • It supports your body in returning to homeostasis (a balanced state)
  • It helps your mind and body cope with stress
  • It’s safe and non-toxic to consume when taken in standard doses

You’ll find many popular adaptogens in supplements, teas, and tinctures—including mushrooms for cognitive function, like lion’s mane and Reishi mushrooms—as well as herbs like ashwagandha and rhodiola. The properties of these ingredients produce chemical reactions in your body that can provide support for your hormones, nervous system, and other key functions that handle and respond to stress.

Ashwagandha Root: A Natural Solution for Stress and Hormonal Balance

Whether you’ve seen it in tinctures, teas, or capsules, it’s hard not to run into ashwagandha in today’s health food aisles and local supermarkets. While it’s certainly gained mainstream popularity in recent years, you may be left wondering what this mysterious plant is, and whether it can offer the health benefits your body needs.

Native to India, countries in the Middle East, and North Africa, ashwagandha (also called Withania somnifera) is an herb that has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine. Like other popular wellness superfoods like lion’s mane mushrooms, ashwagandha is an adaptogen, which means it can help your body become more resilient to stress and support your overall mood and well-being.[2] How long does rhodiola take to work? It varies by person, but generally the effects of this adaptogen begin to set in after about 30 minutes. 

Known for promoting a sense of calm, enhancing mental performance, and providing much-needed hormonal support, it’s no wonder that ashwagandha supplements are gaining popularity across the United States.

#1 Supports Proper Hormonal Balance 

Adaptogens are becoming known for balancing hormone levels,[3] which can benefit the body and mind in various ways— whether it be by increasing your energy, improving your brain function and focus, or providing stress reduction and promoting relaxation.[4]

From mood swings to acne, it’s no secret that hormonal imbalances can cause a variety of less-than-desirable symptoms. That’s why many people turn to ashwagandha for its ability to balance the body’s hormones, including testosterone levels (a major contributor to sexual function, physical endurance, and overall vitality). 

It can also help balance luteinizing hormone (LH), serum follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), and gonadotropin hormones, which are all tied to the reproductive system.[5] When the body has the right amount of these key hormones, it may also be better equipped to balance cortisol levels, which is associated with stress and inflammation. 

#2 Contains Anti-Inflammatory and Anti-Arthritic Properties

Chronic inflammation can have a severe impact on all aspects of the body, including the skin, internal organs, and joints. Whether you’re looking for a supplement to offer arthritic relief or an anecdote for general inflammation throughout the body, you may want to consider taking ashwagandha root extract.

Ashwagandha extract has both anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritic properties, which studies have found can be particularly helpful for individuals who have Rheumatoid and Osteoarthritis.[2] 

Recent findings suggest that this potent herb may be able to reduce joint pain and swelling and improve overall mobility, making it easier and more comfortable to live with arthritis and other inflammatory conditions.[6]

#3 Helps Keep Your Mind Sharp

When you’re struggling to focus, you may be used to grabbing another cup of coffee or cracking open an energy drink. For a more natural, caffeine-free substitute, opt to support your brain health with ashwagandha.

Studies show that ashwagandha can boost memory and cognitive function. It may even contribute to prolonged attention spans, helping you to stay focused for longer periods of time.[7]

#4 Boosts Muscle Performance and Physical Strength

Ashwagandha is not only good for your mind, but may also be able to support your body by boosting your muscle performance, helping you to improve your physical strength. While further research is required for conclusive results, recent studies have found that participants who consume the herb noticed an increase in their speed and strength.[8]

Other studies indicate that alongside muscle growth, ashwagandha also aided in lowering individuals’ cholesterol and body fat percentage.[8] Whether or not you’re an aspiring athlete, proper muscle tone and function are key when maintaining your physical fitness and can have long-lasting positive effects on your overall health. 

Rhodiola's Role in Enhancing Mental Clarity and Physical Vigor

Rhodiola, also called Rhodiola rosea, is an herb native to Western Europe and Asia, with a longstanding history in holistic and traditional medicine practices because of its medicinal properties and healing compounds. Since it grows in colder climates, it’s gained nicknames like the “Arctic root.”

Although it’ll take further research to develop conclusive results, current literature indicates that rhodiola rosea extract may help your body’s stress response, manage occasional anxiety and depression, and combat fatigue. You’ll likely find it on the shelves of your local health food store as an herbal supplement since it’s recently gained popularity for its array of possible health benefits. 

Here’s a closer look at the benefits of rhodiola and the powerful potential of this healing plant:

#1 Combats Fatigue

If you struggle with mid-day drowsiness or are looking for something to replace your usual morning coffee, you may want to consider adding a rhodiola supplement to your wellness regimen. Because of its adaptogenic properties, this root may be able to help you overcome feelings of physical and mental fatigue.[9]

One study found that after consuming 400mg of rhodiola a day, individuals living with chronic fatigue noticed substantial improvements in their mood, energy levels, and ability to concentrate.[10]

While more research is required to determine if you can effectively swap your espresso for this handy herb, emerging research suggests it may be one of the next best substitutes for other energy elixirs.

#2 Boosting Brain Function and Cognition

While you can’t train your brain with traditional workouts like lunges and push-ups, taking supplements like rhodiola may be able to help improve your memory, focus, and cognitive function.[9] In addition to healthy habits like a balanced diet and positive sleep schedule, studies have found that this herb may improve memory function and support cognition.[11]

#3 Improving Athleticism and Exercise Performance

While it may not be your typical pre-workout supplement, recent findings indicate that rhodiola may be able to improve your exercise performance by reducing fatigue and giving your body an antioxidant boost. 

Although further research is needed, some studies show that the antioxidant activity produced by this herb can decrease perceived exertion, reducing the exhaustion people feel during a workout.[12]

#4 Reducing Feelings of Stress and Burnout

Like other adaptogens, rhodiola may be helpful for chronic stress management and may even offer support in fighting feelings of burnout. 

Recent research indicates that taking 400mg of rhodiola a day can help relieve symptoms of burnout, including occasional stress and moderate depression, making it easier to handle overwhelming situations and maintain a calm and focused mood.[9]

Tailoring Your Wellness Routine: When to Choose Ashwagandha or Rhodiola

When you’re trying to decide which supplement to add to your wellness routine, you’ll want to consider factors like your health and lifestyle, and whether you have any medical conditions or concerns. Consult with a healthcare professional for personalized advice based on your specific needs.

The choice rhodiola rosea vs. ashwagandha depends on whether you’re looking for something to boost your brain power or mellow you out, since these powerful adaptogens both may have the ability to reduce stress and support overall well-being. 

If you’re focused on improving sleep, achieving deeper relaxation, and keeping your anxiety at bay, you’ll want to look for ashwagandha in your teas, tonics, and supplements. If you want something that helps put a skip in your step and leaves you feeling focused and energized throughout the day, give the rhodiola root a try.

Get Your Daily Dose of Adaptogens with Botanic Tonics

When you’re looking for natural ways to boost your mood, maintain your focus, or balance your hormones, integrate adaptogens like ashwagandha and rhodiola into your diet. Packed with compounds that contain a variety of potential health benefits, this is one easy way to prioritize your health while nurturing your body, mind, and spirit.

Whether you opt for easy-to-take capsules or tasty tinctures, we’ve got you covered at Botanic Tonics. When you shop our high-quality products, you’re engaging with ancient traditions for a holistic approach. 

Browse our line of kava tonic products and find the option that suits your lifestyle and wellness routine. 


  1. Cleveland Clinic. Adaptogens. 
  2. National Library of Medicine. An Overview on Ashwagandha: A Rasayana (Rejuvenator) of Ayurveda.,damage%20caused%20by%20free%20radicals 
  3. UCLA Health. What are adaptogens and should you be taking them?
  4. Integrative Medical Institute. Why Balancing Your Hormones Can Help You Feel Better.
  5. Healthline. What Does Ashwagandha Do for Women’s Wellness?
  6. Healthline. Does Ashwagandha Affect Osteoarthritis Symptoms?
  7. National Library of Medicine. Efficacy and Safety of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera (L.) Dunal) Root Extract in Improving Memory and Cognitive Functions. 
  8. National Library of Medicine. Effects of Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha) and Terminalia arjuna (Arjuna) on physical performance and cardiorespiratory endurance in healthy young adults. 
  9. Healthline. 7 Science-Backed Health Benefits of Rhodiola rosea. 
  10. National Library of Medicine. Rhodiola rosea in Subjects with Prolonged or Chronic Fatigue Symptoms: Results of an Open-Label Clinical Trial. 
  11. National Library of Medicine. Rhodiola rosea L. Improves Learning and Memory Function: Preclinical Evidence and Possible Mechanisms. 
  12. National Library of Medicine. The Effect of Acute Rhodiola rosea Ingestion on Exercise Heart Rate, Substrate Utilisation, Mood State, and Perceptions of Exertion, Arousal, and Pleasure/Displeasure in Active Men.

About The Author

Jamal Bouie Botanic Tonic

Jamal Bouie

Jamal Bouie is an accomplished professional with a Bachelor’s Degree in Chemistry from Lemoyne-Owen College in Memphis. Currently, he is pursuing his PhD in Biomedicine at Salus University. Jamal has worked in several industries; he began his career in pharmaceutical manufacturing and transitioned to the cannabis industry, where he specialized in analytical testing and manufacturing, playing a vital role in ensuring product safety and compliance. Now, Jamal has turned his attention to the dietary supplement field, combining his scientific acumen with his passion for health and wellness.

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