Rhodiola vs. Caffeine: Energy Benefits | Botanic Tonics

Rhodiola vs. Caffeine: Energy Benefits | Botanic Tonics

Reviewed by Jamal Bouie

Rhodiola vs. Caffeine: Energy Benefits 

When you’re looking for an energy boost, your first thought may be to hit the local coffee shop for a shot of espresso or a cup of joe. But what if you could get that extra dose of focus and concentration without the negative side effects of caffeine?

Luckily, you can figure out how to avoid a caffeine crash with other natural alternatives. While your morning coffee may pack a punch, natural caffeine alternatives like Rhodiola can help you add extra oomph to your day.

In this article, we’ll explore the effects of Rhodiola on your ability to feel focused and energized, explore how caffeine stimulates your mind and body, and provide a comprehensive comparison of Rhodiola vs caffeine so that you can make an informed decision about what’s in your cup.

Rhodiola Rosea: The Arctic Root

Rhodiola, also called Rhodiola rosea, is an adaptogen known for its energy-boosting abilities. So… what’s an adaptogen then? 

An adaptogen is an herb, root, or other plant substance (like a mushroom) that works to balance your pituitary, adrenal, and hypothalamic glands, which all contribute to your body’s hormone function. Other adaptogens include:

  • Lion’s mane
  • Tulsi
  • Ashwagandha
  • Reishi

Nicknamed the “Arctic root” and the “golden root,” Rhodiola rosea is a plant found in the colder parts of Asia and Europe, where local communities have used it for centuries for medicinal purposes.[1] In addition to its ability to keep fatigue at bay, Rhodiola may also be beneficial for: 

  • Stress management
  • Mood enhancement
  • Feelings of calm and focus

Since adaptogens like Rhodiola can help balance your hormone levels naturally, you may be able to use them to prevent feelings of fatigue. So, rather than stimulating your brain with caffeine or similar compounds to combat tiredness, you can regulate your hormone production with Rhodiola adaptogenic coffee to experience less brain fog and sleepiness from the get-go.

The Effects of Rhodiola on Energy and Focus

If you feel tired in the mornings or afternoons, you may want to consider skipping that extra shot of espresso and instead subbing it for a Rhodiola supplement or tincture. By figuring out how to stop drinking caffeine so frequently and relying on this natural adaptogen for an energy boost instead, you can better support your physical and mental health while still getting the energy you’re looking for. 

However, the anti-fatigue effects of Rhodiola are not the only benefit this root has to offer. Other perks of consuming it may include:[2]

Boosting Mental Clarity, Memory, and Brain Function

We all know that regular exercise, a consistent sleep schedule, and balanced nutrition are key to enhanced brain function and reduced mental fatigue. However, adding the right supplements and plant extracts to your diet can give your brain an extra boost in addition to your morning cup of coffee. 

For example, taking Rhodiola supplements can support learning, memory, mental clarity, and overall cognitive function.[3] 

Reduced Symptoms of Occasional Anxiety

Not only can Rhodiola help support proper brain function, but it may also be an effective mood booster and stabilizer. Since it acts as a neuroprotectant, recent studies have found that Rhodiola can play a crucial role in combating stress and occasional anxiety, and may be a reliable treatment option when dealing with feelings of sadness or worry.[4]

A study conducted on mice actually found that even just a single dose of Rhodiola had an antidepressant effect and positive impacts on memory. These findings suggest that it may be a viable natural anti-depressant for humans trying to counteract mood disorders.[5]

While more research is required to validate these results, it’s a clear indication that implementing Rhodiola into your diet as a caffeine replacement may offer an array of additional benefits.

Support with Stress and Burn Out

Since it’s an adaptogen, the Rhodiola root supports your body in creating a natural resistance to stress. This means that consuming it before or during stressful periods may make it easier to cope and overcome these periods.[6]

If you suffer from chronic stress, you may also experience burnout, which is a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion. If you’re routinely feeling overwhelmed and unable to handle your regular tasks and demands, Rhodiola supplements may offer some relief.[7]

Enhanced Physical Performance

Not only can this “Arctic root” provide you with a coffee-like energy buzz, but it may also be able to enhance your physical performance and boost your stamina. In fact, due to its ability to minimize mental and physical fatigue, Rhodiola may help your body improve muscle performance and strength.[8] 

While more research is required for conclusive results, you may notice that by taking Rhodiola supplements before you hit the gym, your mind and body have the ability to stay focused and energized throughout your workout.

How Caffeine Stimulates the Body and Mind

While your local barista may have your regular coffee order down pat, do you really know what’s in your cup? Caffeine, found in coffee and other drinks, including teas and sodas, is a chemical compound and a stimulant. This means it’s a psychoactive drug that causes brain and nervous system activity.[9]

Like with other psychoactive stimulants, it’s possible to become addicted to caffeine because of its impact on your brain and body. You may already experience symptoms of caffeine withdrawal if you notice you start to get a headache without your daily cup of java. 

But how exactly does caffeine work?

Caffeine gives you a jolt of energy by blocking adenosine receptors in your brain. Adenosine is a chemical that makes you feel sleepy, so by blocking its dispersal, caffeine helps to stave off tiredness temporarily. Unfortunately, this is also what leads to your 2 p.m. crash when caffeine wears off and stops blocking your brain’s receptors. There are several benefits of giving up caffeine over time, including improved sleep quality, more stable energy levels, and reduced anxiety. Simply reducing your daily intake of caffeine may have positive effects as well.

Comparing Side Effects: Rhodiola vs Caffeine

When you’re looking for something to keep you focused and energized throughout the day, you may consider caffeinated go-tos like herbal tea and coffee, or opt for a crash-free energizer like Rhodiola. Whatever your indulgence, it’s important to understand the potential side effects of your choice so that you can make the right decision for your health and lifestyle. 

Here’s a look at some of the effects of Rhodiola and caffeine:

Side Effects of Rhodiola

While they’re usually mild, the potential side effects of Rhodiola may include:

  • Increased feelings of anxiety or restlessness when consumed with caffeine
  • Dizziness
  • Agitation

It’s also important to remember that the likelihood of these side effects typically correlates with other lifestyle factors, such as taking certain medications. 

Side Effects of Caffeine

As normal as it may be to hit your corner coffee shop when you’re feeling the afternoon slump, it turns out that your daily Americano may have more side effects than you might think. While caffeine isn’t dangerous when consumed in moderation, this stimulant can have a negative effect on your health if consumed in excess. Here are some signs that you may have had too many milligrams of caffeine:

  • Shakiness
  • Dehydration
  • Dizziness
  • Heartburn
  • A racing heart or fast heartbeat
  • Agitation
  • Trouble sleeping

Unfortunately, when it comes to caffeine intake, there’s no magic number—while some people may be able to handle four cups of java a day, you may notice you feel anxious or jittery after just one. You may also notice other symptoms more intensely depending on your health and lifestyle. 

For example, some coffee drinkers notice heartburn after a single cup if they already struggle with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). While some people can increase their intake with little to no impact, you may want to substitute your beverage with another natural energy enhancer if you frequently experience these symptoms.

Rhodiola Rosea: An Herbal Powerhouse

You may decide to cut back on your coffee consumption to reduce anxiety, improve your oral health, or enhance your heart health. Regardless of your reasoning, drinking coffee less frequently doesn’t mean being starved for energy with the help of natural coffee alternatives like Rhodiola rosea. 

One key way that Rhodiola works is by balancing cortisol levels in the body, helping you feel mentally and emotionally balanced throughout the day, rather than experiencing peaks and dips in energy when consuming caffeine. 

Its ability to lower stress while providing you with consistent energy also makes it the perfect coffee alternative, especially if you notice feeling nervous or antsy after your typical morning brew. 

Our pro tip? When shopping for Rhodiola supplements, only consider reputable merchandisers, since the quality and purity of ingredients significantly impact their performance.

Get the Energy You Need from Rhodiola with Botanic Tonics

Whether you’re interested in becoming less dependent on your morning cup of brew or you just want to find an herbal supplement that supports your overall health while giving your brain a boost, Rhodiola may be the key ingredient you need. And, at Botanic Tonics, you can trust that all of our supplements and tinctures are made with high-quality ingredients.

To amp up your concentration and dial in without drinking coffee, check out our kava capsules, which offer key ingredients to support your body and brain. 

When you’re ready to level up your supplement routine, take a look at our line of plant-based products at Botanic Tonics.


  1. Journal of Food and Drug Analysis. Rhodiola plants: Chemistry and biological activity. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1021949815000563
  2. National Library of Medicine. The Effectiveness of Rhodiola rosea L. Preparations in Alleviating Various Aspects of Life-Stress Symptoms and Stress-Induced Conditions—Encouraging Clinical Evidence. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9228580/
  3. National Library of Medicine. Rhodiola rosea L. Improves Learning and Memory Function: Preclinical Evidence and Possible Mechanisms. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6288277/ 
  4. Mental Health America. Rhodiola Rosea. https://www.mhanational.org/rhodiola-rosea 
  5. National Library of Medicine. Salidroside, a Bioactive Compound of Rhodiola Rosea, Ameliorates Memory and Emotional Behavior in Adult Mice.  https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26967223/ 
  6. National Library of Medicine. Stress management and the role of Rhodiola rosea: a review. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29325481/ 
  7. National Library of Medicine. Multicenter, open-label, exploratory clinical trial with Rhodiola rosea extract in patients suffering from burnout symptoms. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5370380/ 
  8. National Library of Medicine. Acute and chronic effects of Rhaponticum carthamoides and Rhodiola rosea extracts supplementation coupled to resistance exercise on muscle protein synthesis and mechanical power in rats. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7670727/ 
  9. Princeton University Health Services. Caffeine. https://uhs.princeton.edu/health-resources/caffeine

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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