Rhodiola Algida

Rhodiola Algida

PEP Topic 

Rhodiola algida is a Tibetan plant used in traditional Chinese medicine. It is thought to strengthen the human immune system by nourishing and invigorating Qi and activating blood circulation against stasis. It has been tested as an intervention for mucositis in patients with cancer.

Effectiveness Not Established

Research Evidence Summaries

Loo, W. T., Jin, L. J., Chow, L. W., Cheung, M. N., & Wang, M. (2010). Rhodiola algida improves chemotherapy-induced oral mucositis in breast cancer patients. Expert Opinion on Investigational Drugs, 19 Suppl. 1, S91-100.


Study Purpose:

Investigate Rhodiola algida on healthy human lymphocytes in vitro and on the healing time of oral ulcers in breast cancer

Secondary aim: Animal study portion

Intervention Characteristics/Basic Study Process:

In the test group, the patients consumed 200 mL boiled Rhodiola algida at a concentration of 50 mg/ml for seven consecutive days after receiving chemotherapy. Control patients were given honey bee water. All patients were given 0.2% chlorhexidine mouthwash. Rhodiola algida is a Tibetan plant used in traditional Chinese medicine, believed to affect the immune system by nourishing Chi.

Sample Characteristics:

The study was comprised of 130 patients, age 24-58, with a mean age of 48.5 years.

Females: 100%

Diagnosis information: Invasive ductal carcinoma


Single site: University of Hong Kong

Study Design:

Control trial- not clear if it was random nor blind.

Measurement Instruments/Methods:

Oral Mucositis Assessment Scale (OMAS) Numeric Rating Scale for pain


There were three ulcers in the treatment group and five in the control group. The diameter of ulcers in the treatment group was smaller than those in the control group. The treatment group had less pain, shorter duration of ulceration, and better body weight maintenance than the control group, all of these parameters had statistical significance (p < 0.05). Findings related to measures of immune function are provided. The WBC count in the treatment group was 5.3 (±1.02) compared to 3.2 (±0.82) in the control group. This effect may have implications for other symptoms in addition to mucositis.


Although this study showed some improvement in oral healing and pain, this group of patients does not typically experience severe mucositis.


Breast cancer only, very few episodes of mucositis to measure effectiveness; nausea and vomiting in this population may affect weight loss.

Nursing Implications:

Many other potential effects of this agent. Further research with this agent would be useful.