The roseroot herb (Rhodiola rosea) may be a beneficial treatment option for major depressive disorder (MDD), a study published in Phytomedicine has shown.

Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine conducted a Phase 2 randomized, placebo-controlled, proof-of-concept trial to study the safety and efficacy of R. rosea vs. sertraline for mild to moderate major depressive disorder (MDD). In the study, 57 participants were randomized to 12 weeks of standardized R. rosea extract, sertraline, or placebo.

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Study results showed modest reductions for Hamilton Depression rating (HAM-D), Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), and Clinical Global Impression Change (CGI/C) scores for all treatment conditions with no significant difference between the group s (P=0.79, P=0.28, P=0.17, respectively); these changes were not statistically significant. Greater reductions in HAM-D scores were seen with sertraline vs. R. rosea (-8.2 vs. -5.1) or placebo (-4.6). However, more subjects reported adverse events while taking sertraline (63.2%) vs. R. rosea (30.0%) or placebo (16.7%) (P=0.012).

Sertraline produced a greater antidepressant effect than R. rosea but due to its greater incidence of adverse events, R. rosea may demonstrate a better risk to benefit ratio for individuals with mild to moderate MDD, study authors concluded.

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