Rhodiola rosea is an herb with a long history in Russian and Chinese folk medicine. “Even orthodox medicine started to use it over 130 years ago.” Common usage of the herb is as a stimulant, adaptogen, antiarrhythmic, immune stimulant, heart protector from stress, and as an anticancer agent. Rhodiola is used in conjunction with cyclophosphamide chemotherapy because it makes cyclophosphamide stronger and protects the liver from the damage due to chemotherapy.
In addition to chemicals such as flavonoids, proanthocyanidines, and beta-sitosterol, rhodiola contains salidroside, rosavin, tyrosol, cinnamyl alcohol, and triandrine. Often, whole herb extracts have been found to be more effective in killing cancer cells than the individual components.
Rhodiola rosea is an adaptogen and has stimulating properties, which may even have anticancer and antimutagenic effect. The present study is done to try to confirm the anticancer effects of this herb by testing it against promyelocytic leukemic cells of a type known as HL-60 cells. The cells were exposed to standard extracts of rhodiola for 6 to 72 hours and the survival of the cells was tested with automatic equipment.
The result of the current testing for cell survival or apoptosis and necrosis was that rhodiola decreased the survival of the HL-60 leukemic cells. The lowest concentrations of the herb reduced cell survival after 12 hours of incubation. The highest concntrations of rhodiola (225 and 450mug/ml) reduced cell survival to almost zero after 48 and 72 hours of incubation.
Rhodiola resulted in the reduction of cell division or total inhibition of cell division at the highest concentration. Cells that were prevented from proceeding through cell division went through a process of apoptosis, necrosis, and natural cell death.
CONCLUSION: This study shows that rhodiola acts against the division of HL-60 leukemic cells, with apoptosis and reduced survival of the cells. These results show the possibility of using rhodiola clinically against cancer. Rhodiola works well alone, has no side effects, and works well in combination with other chemotherapy.
The beneficial chemicals in rhodiola increase with older plants; therefore five-year-old plants are usually used.