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Rhodiola vs Ashwagandha: Difference Explained

Interested in the difference between rhodiola vs ashwagandha?

Both of these herbal supplements are traditionally used for stress relief and to increase exercise performance. While more studies exist to back up the use of ashwagandha, there is some evidence to support rhodiola as a stress/sports supplement as well. If you’re interested in either of these supplements, we recommend checking out Thorne’s Rhodiola, and Transparent Labs’ Ashwagandha.

The difference between rhodiola vs ashwagandha lies in their effects. Rhodiola appears to reduce fatigue and improve exercise performance. Ashwagandha appears to reduce cortisol levels and boost testosterone as a result. Both supplements should be studied further to draw better conclusions about their effects.

rhodiola vs ashwagandha

What Is Rhodiola?

Rhodiola Rosea is an herb grown throughout Central Asia, North America, and Europe. It is most commonly used medicinally in Scandinavia and Eastern Europe. It is traditionally used to help with memory, reducing stress, and strength. But, what does the current research say about rhodiola?

Rhodiola is most commonly used as a nootropic to help with memory, and mental acuity. Several studies have shown that rhodiola has modest to moderate effects in reducing fatigue and improving mental function.

In terms of rhodiola’s effects on exercise performance, there is some promising research available. It has been used to help with physical performance, to improve recovery. One study showed that rhodiola supplementation reduced both lactate levels and skeletal muscle damage after exercise. Another study demonstrated that acute rhodiola supplementation increased exercise capacity by decreasing heart rate response to exercise and reducing perceived effort.

With this being said, most of the studies mentioned above were performed in the former USSR, which was known to produce disproportionately positive test results in clinical trials. While current research is positive, much more needs to be done to draw definitive results.


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What Is Ashwagandha?

Ashwagandha is an herb grown throughout Asia and Africa. It is traditionally used to reduce stress, and boost testosterone. But, does current research support these uses?

Ashwagandha is likely best suited for stress-reducing purposes. In a study conducted on adults with chronic stress, ashwagandha was shown to subjectively improve symptoms, as well as substantially reducing cortisol levels.

It’s these cortisol-reducing properties that are likely the reason behind ashwagandha’s testosterone-boosting properties as well. Studies have shown that ashwagandha is beneficial in boosting testosterone concentrations, which in turn may aid in athletic performance. This is shown by one study in which ashwagandha supplementation increased strength, and muscular size when compared to a placebo group.

Overall, while further research is needed to fully understand ashwagandha and its potential uses, current studies suggest it is beneficial for reducing stress, and potentially increasing exercise performance through boosted testosterone.

workout in gym

Rhodiola vs Ashwagandha

Below we’ll be considering ashwagandha vs rhodiola based on several factors. These include price, stress reduction, nootropic effects, exercise performance, and safety.

PriceUsing Thorne’s Rhodiola:
Using Transparent Labs’ Ashwagandha:
Stress ReductionRhodiola does not appear to have significant stress reduction properties beyond potentially reducing fatigue.Ashwagandha reduces cortisol levels which in turn reduces stress levels.
Nootropic EffectsRhodiola may improve mental clarity and memory, although these results were produced by somewhat unreliable studies.Beyond stress reduction and improving mental clarity, ashwagandha does not have significant nootropic effects.
Exercise PerformanceRhodiola may improve exercise performance in several metrics, although these results are also from unreliable studies.Ashwagandha modestly boosts testosterone which in turn may affect overall exercise performance.
SafetyBoth of these supplements are widely considered to be safe.

1. Price

Both of these supplements are very affordable. Using Thorne’s Rhodiola as an example, you can get this supplement for around $0.27/serving; using Transparent Labs’ Ashwagandha, this supplement comes in at around $0.33/serving. While they come at comparable prices, rhodiola is slightly cheaper between these 2 examples.

2. Stress Reduction

Ashwagandha has been shown to reduce stress levels by reducing cortisol levels in the body. While rhodiola has been shown to reduce fatigue, there is little other evidence to support its use for stress reduction.

weighted vest running

3. Nootropic Effects

Ashwagandha is effective at reducing stress, and the mental clarity associated with this may be seen as a nootropic effect. Rhodiola is more of a traditional nootropic, being thought to help with mental clarity and memory. However, much of the research done on rhodiola is somewhat unreliable, so further research is needed to substantiate these claims.

4. Exercise Performance

Both of these supplements have been shown to increase exercise performance in some metrics. Because much of the research on rhodiola has been conducted in somewhat unreliable studies, it’s difficult to say if these results are genuine without further research. Ashwagandha has been shown to boost testosterone, and has produced these results in more reliable studies.

5. Safety

Both ashwagandha and rhodiola are widely considered to be safe for human consumption. However, if you are concerned or have any pre-existing medical issues, consult with a doctor before use.

man dumbbells training

Rhodiola vs Ashwagandha: Summary

Rhodiola and ashwagandha both appear to be beneficial herbal supplements that should be used for different purposes. Rhodiola is a nootropic supplement that helps with cognitive function and may also have benefits for exercise performance. Ashwagandha is useful for reducing stress levels as well as moderately boosting testosterone as a result. It should be noted that while more conclusive research has been done on ashwagandha, both supplements should be studied further.

Pros/Cons of Rhodiola


  • May improve memory and mental acuity
  • Could be beneficial for reducing fatigue
  • May improve exercise performance on several metrics
  • Safe for human consumption and affordable

Could be better:

  • Much of the research done on rhodiola is somewhat unreliable
gym weighted west workout

Pros/Cons of Ashwagandha


  • Reduces cortisol levels, thus reducing stress
  • Moderately increases testosterone levels naturally
  • Completely safe, and very cheap

Could be better:

  • Further research is needed to fully substantiate claims surrounding ashwagandha
  • Increases in test levels may not increase performance significantly

Rhodiola vs Ashwagandha: When to Use Each?

Although these 2 herbal supplements are similar, they will have slightly different use cases. Rhodiola should be used for purposes of improving mental clarity, or for reducing fatigue. It may also be useful for generally improving exercise performance. Keep in mind, however, that these results are from somewhat unreliable sources.

Ashwagandha should be taken for reducing stress levels, and the testosterone-boosting effects associated with this. This in turn may modestly improve exercise performance metrics.

Follow the instructions on supplement packages for dosage guidelines for either of these supplements. While they should both be completely safe, consult with your doctor if you have any pre-existing health conditions, or if you’re concerned about any associated risks.

Best Rhodiola – Thorne Rhodiola

Rhodiola Thorne

If you’re looking for a high-quality Rhodiola supplement, consider trying Thorne’s product.

Each package comes with 60 capsules containing 100mg of Rhodiola each. Aside from the capsule ingredients, this supplement contains 100% rhodiola with no extra ingredients.

Reviews suggest that this supplement is effective in providing a boost of clean energy, as well as increasing mental clarity. As mentioned above, this is also a very affordable supplement at only ~$0.27 per serving. So, if you’re interested in trying rhodiola, it won’t set you back too much money!

Best Ashwagandha – Transparent Labs Ashwagandha

transparent labs ksm66

If you’re more interested in ashwagandha, Transparent Labs offers a great supplement as well.

You’ll also be getting 60 servings per package, with each capsule containing 600mg of ashwagandha. This is an effective daily dose based on current research. Like all Transparent Labs products, you can expect no additional unnecessary ingredients whatsoever.

Reviews suggest that this product is beneficial in reducing stress levels and improving sleep. This product comes at a similar price to Thorne’s rhodiola. It will only cost you around $0.33 per serving, making it a great budget choice.


Can You Take Rhodiola and Ashwagandha Together?

Yes, there don’t appear to be any downsides to taking these 2 supplements together. The stress-reducing properties of ashwagandha may be especially beneficial alongside the potential nootropic benefits of rhodiola.

Is Rhodiola Similar to Ashwagandha?

Yes, both of these are herbal supplements that have been traditionally used for similar purposes. While rhodiola is best used for nootropic purposes and reducing fatigue, ashwagandha is better suited for reducing stress levels. Based on these effects, you can decide whether rhodiola or ashwagandha is better for you.

Is There Something Stronger Than Ashwagandha?

In terms of herbal supplements that can be used to reduce stress, there aren’t many that are more beneficial than ashwagandha. With that being said, if you have chronic stress and anxiety, ashwagandha may not be enough. Consult with your doctor about treatments like therapy and medication.

Should You Take Ashwagandha and Rhodiola for Weight Loss?

Neither ashwagandha or rhodiola appear to have any real benefits when it comes to weight loss. While they may help with exercise performance which will in turn help with weight loss, neither supplement is a magic cure for weight loss.


Ashwagandha and rhodiola are 2 beneficial herbal supplements that serve slightly different purposes. If you’re looking for a nootropic that may also boost exercise performance, you may be interested in rhodiola. However, if you’re looking for a natural stress reliever that may in turn boost testosterone, check out ashwagandha.

For a great rhodiola supplement, we recommend Thorne, and for ashwagandha, we recommend Transparent Labs.

Have you tried either of these supplements before? What was your experience like? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Also read:


  1. Rhodiola rosea, “Rhodiola” Compilation by Armando Gonzalez Stuart, PhD, (accessed May 10, 2023).
  2. Gene Bruno, Androgen Alternatives ( Huntington College of Health Sciences, 2009), 15,
  3. A Parisi, E Tranchita, G Duranti, E Ciminelli, F Quaranta, R Ceci, C Cerulli, P Borrione, S Sabatini, “Effects of chronic Rhodiola Rosea supplementation on sport performance and antioxidant capacity in trained male: preliminary results” National Library of Medicine, (accessed Mar 10, 2010), 50(1):57-63.
  4. Eric E Noreen 1, James G Buckley, Stephanie L Lewis, Josef Brandauer, Kristin J Stuempfle, “The effects of an acute dose of Rhodiola rosea on endurance exercise performance” National Library of Medicine, (accessed Mar 10, 2013), 27(3):839-47.
  5. A Vickers 1, N Goyal, R Harland, R Rees, “Do certain countries produce only positive results? A systematic review of controlled trials” National Library of Medicine, (accessed Apr 10, 1998), 19(2):159-66.
  6. Withania somnifera, “Ashwagandha” Compilation by Armando Gonzalez Stuart, PhD, (accessed May 10, 2023).
  7. K. Chandrasekhar, Jyoti Kapoor, Sridhar Anishetty, “A Prospective, Randomized Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study of Safety and Efficacy of a High-Concentration Full-Spectrum Extract of Ashwagandha Root in Reducing Stress and Anxiety in Adults” National Library of Medicine, (accessed Jul-Sep, 2012), 34(3): 255–262.
  8. Stephen J Smith, Adrian L Lopresti, Shaun Y M Teo, Timothy J Fairchild, “Examining the Effects of Herbs on Testosterone Concentrations in Men: A Systematic Review” National Library of Medicine, (accessed May, 2021), 12(3): 744–765.
  9. Sachin Wankhede, Deepak Langade, Kedar Joshi, Shymal R. Sinha, and Sauvik Bhattacharyya, “Examining the effect of Withania somnifera supplementation on muscle strength and recovery: a randomized controlled trial” National Library of Medicine, (accessed 2015), 12: 43.

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Oleksandr Maksymenko

Author: Oleksandr Maksymenko
Certified Sports Nutritionist,
MSc Sports Dietetics

Experience: 7 years
Specializing in: Weight management, Fitness / Sports nutrition

Oleksandr is a professional fitness nutritionist certified by the Fitness Professional Association (FPA). He follows the principles of evidence-based dietetics and fosters a healthy relationship with food in his clients, ensuring there are no strict prohibitions on their favorite foods or frequent lapses. His primary goal is not only to achieve results for you but also to sustain them over the long term, all while enjoying tasty and delicious food.

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