Rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea) and schisandra (Schisandra chinensis) are adaptogenic herbs that have been shown to possess mood elevating effects. In this regard, both herbs may have particular effects on the central nervous system that produces an anti-stress effect, and this may attenuate the normal detrimental effects of exposure to chronic stress. For example, in one study rabbits exposed to experimental stress had increased plasma cortisol levels that were 200 to 300 % of baseline levels. However, 7 days of administration of rhodiola and schizandra attenuated the rise in cortisol levels and this was accompanied by a reduction in the p-SAPK/p-JNK and nitric oxide, two cellular messengers that may be required to activate the cellular response to stress. As stress is considered the primary driver of mood disorders, the antidepressant effect of rhodiola and schisandra may stem from their anti-stress effect, and in particular, their ability to reduce cortisol levels through modification of cellular messaging pathways.
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