Eleuthero Summary:

Eleuthero is also known more commonly as Siberian Ginseng. The issue with calling it Siberian ginseng is that it's not technically a ginseng at all. Despite its very similar appearance, and similar actions, it doesn't have any of the main ginsenosides responsible for the real ginsengs actions. 

That said, eleuthero is used for much the same purposes as ginseng, and the chemicals mainly responsible for its actions on the body are also different kinds of saponins. They work to improve and tone the heart, tone the adrenals to resist the negative effects of stress and balance energy levels, and improve libido. All of these actions are shared with ginseng. 

Eleuthero was first popularized by a group of Russian Olympians in the 1970's who took eleuthero as part of their training program, and ended up winning a series of medals. Whether or not eleuthero played as large a role in this achievement as suggested, it was soon adopted into the Russian space program to help cosmonauts endure the stresses of early space travel. 

To this day, eleuthero is popular amongst athletes, students, entrepreneurs, and anybody forced to endure long, physically demanding days. This herb is considered an adaptogen which is defined by its ability to promote a resistance to stress in all its forms. 


Botanical Name

Eleutherococcus senticosus
Syn: Acanthopanax senticosus

Family

Araliaceae

Part Used

Root

Herbal Actions:

  • Adaptogen
  • Stimulant (mild)
  • Immunomodulator
  • Tonic

Specific Actions:

  • Enhances glucose metabolism
siberian ginseng root

Dosage

Dried Herb Equivelent

2-4 g/day

Tincture (1:5)

10-20 mL/day

Liquid Extract (1:2)

2-8 mL/day

A Note On Long Term Use

Long term usage is appropriate with this herb. For general health maintenance and as a daily adaptogen aim for the lower end of the dose. Take for 6 weeks with a 2 week break before repeating. 

The high end of these doses, or even higher should be used for acute cases of high level stress. 

Recommended Source

Indications:

[1, 2, 3, 6]

  • Over work
  • Adrenal fatigue
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Insomnia
  • Mild depression
  • Irritability
  • Environmental stress
  • Slow mental performance
  • Altitude sickness (preventative)
  • Fatigue and debility
  • To improve memory and concentration
  • Neurosis

+ Cardiovascular Conditions

  • Angina
  • High blood pressure (especially stress related)

+ Other

  • To help recovery after surgery
  • To improve athletic performance
  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Cancer
  • To aid recovery in both acute and chronic illness
  • Reduce symptoms of chemotherapy and radio-therapy
  • Oedema
  • Joint pain
  • Muscular spasm
  • Difficult urination
  • Herpes simplex type II
  • Cold/flu
 

Common Names:

  • Eleuthero root
  • Siberian ginseng
  • Acanthopanax
  • Wu Jia Pi (China)
  • Cu Wu Jia (China)
  • Gokahi (Japan)
  • Eleuterokokka (Russia)
  • Bark of 5 Additions

Traditional Uses:

+ In Russia

Thanks to a lot of research done in the 1950s in Russia, investigating the adaptogenic actions of this herb. Eleuthero was incorporated into the Russian pharmacopoeia and was used by Russian athletes to prepare for the Olympic games in the late 1970s and early 1980s and was even used in the Russian space programme in 1977. [6].

+ Traditional Chinese Medicine

Taste: Pungent, bitter [5]

Energy: Warm [5]

Channels: Liver, kidney [5]

Actions: Dispels wind-dampness, disperses obstructions due to wind, disperses obstructions due to dampness, drains dampness, promotes urination, strengthens the bones and sinews, tonifies yang. [5, 6]

Indications: Acceptale during pregnancy [5].

Dose: 3-15g simmered 20 min [5]

Contraindications: Yin deficient heat signs [5].

 

    Botanical Description:

    Eleutherococcus senticosus is a  hardy perennial herb that can grow up to 2 m high. The branches have thin, downward facing spikes. The flowers can be either male, female, of bisexual. [6]. 

     

    Habitat Ecology, and Distribution:

    Eleutherococcus senticosus can be found growing in Eastern Russia, Korea, China, and Japan [4, 6]. 

     

    Harvesting Collection, and Preparation:

    Still compiling research. 

     

    Constituents:

    Glycosides (eleutherosides A-M, sterols, lignans, and phenolics), polysacchaides, triterpenin glycosides, glycans (eleutherans A-G) [1, 4, 6, 7]. Although often referred to as Siberian Ginseng, the eleutherosides contained withing Eleutherococcus are very different than the triterpenoid saponins (ginsenosides) found in Panax species (ginseng). The Eleutheroside content varies depending on the climate the root is grown in. Russian and Korean grown Eleuthero for example has higher Eleutheroside E levels than China grown Eleuthero. [6]. 

    Fixed oil contains caproic acid, lauric acid, [almitic acid, and 75% neutral fats.

    Also contains volatile oils, phytosterols (beta-sitosterol, stigmasterol, camperterol), resins, tannins, polysaccharides (eleutherans), ciwujianosides (minor saponins), isofraxidin (coumarin derrivative),syringin, chlorogenic acidsesamin (lignan), friedelin (triterpene) [4, 7, 8]. 

     

    Pharmacology and Medical Research:

    + Adaptogen

    Eleutherococcus was shown to decrease adrenal hypertrophy and the subsequent depletion of adrenal vitamin C levels in rats [6]. It was also found to increase the swimming time to exhaustion in mice [9], thus improving their overall stamina.

    + Immunomodulator

    An eleuthero extract (containing mainly eleutherosides B and D), was shown to increase the cytostatic activity of natural killer cells by 200% in only a week [7, 14].

    A liquid extract of the roots was also found to inhibit the repliucation of RNA viruses (this includes rhinovirus, respiratory syncytial virus, and influenza A). No inhibition was noted on DNA viruses. [10].

    An extract was shown to increade and induce the actions of the cytokines IL-1 and IL-6 (but not IL-2) in vitro [11]. It was also found to inhibit COX-2 expression [12], and histamine release from peritoneal cells [13].

    + Altitude Sickness

    Still compiling research.

     

    Toxicity

  • The LD50 of Eleutherococcus root is reported to be at 31g/kg in mice. The LD50 of the fluid extract (1:1) in rats was reported at 10 ml/kg. There were no toxic effects noted in rats fed eleutherococcus for the entire span of their life, at doses much higher than the usual recommended dosages. [6]. 
  • Contraindicated during acute infection.  
  •  

    Cautions:

    • Eleutherococcus may interfere with some heart medications and hypoglycemic agents. It may increase the effectiveness of some drugs, as shown with some antibiotics [1].
    • A common adulterant of eleuthero products is periploca species [6]. 
    • Caution advised if using with insomnia, heart palpitations, tachycardia, and hypertention. 

    Synergy:

    Combines well with Schisandra and rhodiola for stress, and echinacea and astragalus for immune function. [6].

    More Herbs


    Author:

    Justin Cooke

    The Sunlight Experiment

    Updated: June 2017


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    References:

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    2. Bone, K. (2003). A clinical guide to blending liquid herbs: Herbal formulations for the individual patient. Edinburgh [u.a., MO: Churchill Livingstone.
    3. Blumenthal, M., Brinckmann, J., & Wollschlaeger, B. (2003). The ABC clinical guide to herbs. Austin, TX: American Botanical Council.
    4. Monograph. Eleutherococcus senticosus. (2006). Alternative Medicine Review : A Journal Of Clinical Therapeutic, 11(2), 151-5.
    5. Hempen, C. H., & Fischer, T. (2009). A Materia Medica for Chinese Medicine: Plants, Minerals, and Animal Products. (Pg. 348-349).
    6. Bone K, Mills S. (2013). Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy. Elsevier health. China. (Pg. 818-825). 
    7. Tang, W., & Eisenbrand, G. (1992). Acanthopanax senticosus (Rupr. et Maxim.) Harms. In Chinese Drugs of Plant Origin (pp. 1-12). Springer Berlin Heidelberg. [review]
    8. Deyama T. Nishibe S. Nakazawa Y. Constituents and pharmacological effects of Eucomniia and Siberian ginseng. Acta Pharmacol Sin 2001 ;22:1057-1070.
    9. Nishibe S, Kinoshita H. Takeda H. Okano G. (1990) Phenolic compounds from stem bark of Acanthopanax senticosus and their pharmacological effect in chronic swimming stressed rats. Chem Pharm Bull (Tokyo) 1990; 38: 763-765. [animal studies].
    10. Glatthaar Saalmulier B. Sacher K Hspcrester A. Antiviral activity of an extract derived from roots of Eleutheroeoccus senticosus. Anitiviral Res 2001;50:223-228.
    11. Steinmann GG. Esperester A, Joller P. Immunopharmacological in v/f/c effects of Eleutherococcus .senticosus extracts. Arzneimittelforscgung; 2001 ;51 :76-83.
    12. Bu Y. Jin ZH. Park SY et al. Siberian ginseng reduces infarct volume in transient focal cerebral ischaemia in Sprague-Dawley rats. Phyto ther Res 2005:19:167-169.
    13. Yi JM. Kim MS. Seo SW. et a!, Acauihopanax senticosus root inhibits mast cell-dependent anaphylaxis. Clin Chim Acta 2001 ;312:163-168
    14. Barenboim GM, Sterlina AG, Bebyakova NV, Ribokas AA, Fuks BB (1986) Investigation of the pharmacokinetics and mechanism of action of Eleutherococcus glycosides. VIII. Investigation of natural killer activation by the Eleutherococcus extract Khim Farm Zh 20:914–917 [animal studies].