Eleuthero Root (Eleutherococcus senticosus)


Eleuthero Root Summary

Commonly known as Siberian ginseng, this herb is well known across the globe for its adaptogenic profile.

As a close relative to the true ginsengs (Panax spp.), Siberian ginseng has many of the same actions and broad, non-specific activity on reducing the negative effects of stress (mainly through the HPA axis and immunomodulation).

The plant became popular in Russia when researchers in the 1950s became interested in the use of adaptogens, which the Russian government invested millions to develop. It wasn't until later in the 1970s when the information hit the public domain after a Russian researcher leaked confidential documents on the research they had been doing.

Now, Siberian ginseng is among the most popular herbs in the world, used by the chronically ill, athletic elite, and elderly across the globe. It’s cheaper than ginseng yet has very similar benefits, and is even better for immune-related conditions of both excess and deficiency.


+ Indications:

  • Adrenal fatigue
  • Adrenal Insufficiency
  • Altitude sickness (preventative)
  • Angina
  • Cancer
  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Cold/flu
  • Difficult urination
  • Environmental stress
  • Fatigue and debility
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAS)
  • Herpes simplex type II
  • High blood pressure (especially stress related)
  • HIV
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Joint pain
  • Mild depression
  • Muscular spasm
  • Neurosis
  • Oedema
  • Over work
  • Reduce symptoms of chemotherapy and radio-therapy
  • Slow mental performance
  • Substance Abuse
  • To aid recovery in both acute and chronic illness
  • To help recovery after surgery
  • To improve athletic performance
  • To improve memory and concentration

+ Contraindications:

  • Tradtionally contraindicated during acute infection.

Herbal Actions:

  • Adaptogen
  • Stimulant (mild)
  • Immunomodulator
  • Tonic

What Is Eleuthero Used For?

Eleuthero root, also known as Siberian Ginseng, is mainly used for its adaptogenic and immunomodulatory actions. it is used during states of fatigue, slow mental and physical performance, chronic fatigue syndrome, mild depression, altotude sickness, and cancer for this reason.

Other used include treatment for cardiovascular disease, hypertension, oedema, joint pain, and to improve athletic performance.


Traditional Uses Of Siberian Ginseng

+ 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


Pungent, bitter




Liver, kidney


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]


Acceptale during pregnancy


3-15 g simmered 20 min

Contraindications: Yin deficient heat signs [5].


Technical Datasheet: Eleuthero Root (Siberian Ginseng)

Weekly Dose

Part Used

  • Root

Family Name

  • Araliaceae


  • Eastern Russia, Korea, China, and Japan.

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Constituents of Interest

  • Eleutherosides (A-M)
  • Eleutherans

Common Names

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







Duration of Use

  • Long term use appropriate under supervision of a medical professional.

Botanical Information

As a member of the Araliaceae, Siberian ginseng is in the same family as the true ginsengs (Panax spp.), as opposed to many of the other "ginsengs" such as Brazilian ginseng (in the Amaranthaceae family), or Indian ginseng (in the Solanaceae family).

The Araliaceae family of plants is home to about 254 species with some very noteanle species medicinally including:

  • Oplopanax horridus (Devils club)
  • Hedera helix (English ivy)
  • Panax ginseng (Ginseng)
  • Tetrapanax papyferum (Ricepaper plant)
  • Aralia nudicaulis (Wild sarsaparilla)

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].


Pharmacology & 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.



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].


Clinical Applications Of Eleutherococcus:

The well-known adaptogenic activities of eleutherococcus makes it useful for athletic performance enhancement, as well as stress-related conditions ranging from chronic fatigue, to cardiovascular disease. The broad immunomodulating actions of the plant make it useful for inflammation, cancer, infection, and autoimmune conditions.



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. 



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



Justin Cooke, BHSc

The Sunlight Experiment

(Updated May 2019)


Recent Blog Posts:


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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].