Eleuthero: History, Benefits,
Side-Effects, & Dosage
Eleuthero is a species of short, woody shrub in the Araliaceae family. The plant has been used to make medicine for years. Sometimes called Siberian ginseng, eleuthero is native to South Korea, North Korea, southeastern Russia, northern China, and Japan. The plant has been traditionally used as a general stimulant and immune system booster. (1)
With over 3000 studies performed on eleuthero, the herb is believed to help your body fight against stress and balance your overall health. (3)
The root of eleuthero has been widely known in the United States as Siberian ginseng. The herb was first sold in the US in the late 1970s and became one of the best-selling herbal dietary supplements on the market. (4)
Surprisingly, the medicinal uses of eleuthero were not discovered until scientists in Russia began looking for an alternative to Panax ginseng because of overharvesting. During that period, Russian scientists started testing other plants in the Araliaceae family for related compounds. And eleuthero was discovered to have the same therapeutic effects and became an alternative for the scarce Panax ginseng.
The plant was earlier known as “Siberian ginseng” because it was from the same family (which includes Panax) and was native to the region where studies were conducted. On further experiments, it was found that the herb did not have ginsenosides but instead contained glycosides with similar properties.
From 2002, it is prohibited in the United States to use the word “ginseng” for any plant or herb that does not include ginsenosides.
Though Eleutherococcus senticosus is mostly used, Eleuthero is sometimes mentioned as Hedera senticosus or Acanthopanax senticosus. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), it is called ci wu jia.
Also, Russian scientists used to call eleuthero “The King of Adaptogens” because it was very well-researched and offers so much therapeutic value and other health benefits. In fact, to date, more than 3,000 scientific studies have been published on eleuthero compared to any other herbs across the globe. (3)
In the beginning, around 2,000 years back, eleuthero was used in TCM to prevent the flu, cold, and respiratory tract infections. It was also supposed to offer energy, vitality, and strength. In Russia, Siberian ginseng was initially used to boost performance, improve quality of life, and reduce infections.
In modern times, eleuthero has been used to improve endurance & stamina, prevent stress-related ailments, etc.
Potential Health Benefits of Eleuthero
Eleuthero or Siberian ginseng is thought to work as an adaptogen, a herbs group that boosts the body’s resistance to stress. Those who use eleuthero claim that it can help with the following health conditions:
- Alzheimer’s Disease
- Kidney Disease
- High Blood Pressure
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
Apart from these conditions, Siberian ginseng is sometimes used to enhance athletic performance, ease chemotherapy’s side effects, and boost the immune system.
To date, studies on the health benefits of eleuthero are limited. However, here are some evidence-based health benefits of Siberian ginseng:
As per a research review published in Current Clinical Pharmacology, eleuthero can improve folks’ mental performance with stress-induced fatigue. (5, 6)
In addition, a 2004 study conducted by Psychological Medicine stated that Siberian ginseng might help people with ‘moderate fatigue.’
According to the NIH (National Institute of Health), eleuthero is useful for cold relief when taken with Andrographis. An experiment on 130 children published in Phytotherapy Research concluded that a herbal formula with Andrographis and eleuthero helped lower the cold duration and severity of beginning the treatment at the early stages of the condition.
Generally, the treatment can take around four or more days to provide the optimum cold relief. (8)
A 2008 study published in Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications found that eleuthero can help cut high cholesterol. The research was performed on 40 postmenopausal women. During the study, women were asked to intake either calcium or calcium plus eleuthero for around six months. (9)
The study found that women who received calcium plus eleuthero experienced a significant decrease in LDL cholesterol and oxidative stress.
Overall, eleuthero can shield you from the risks that prolonged stress can have on your health. It protects your body and improves several body systems’ strength against varying stressors, including those resulting from heat, workload, muscle exercise, excessive exercise, and even radiation. (10)
Possible Side Effects of Eleuthero
Though Siberian ginseng is likely safe when used for a short period, it can trigger different side effects such as headache, insomnia, drowsiness, hypoglycemia, and nervousness. Therefore, it is essential to take caution when taking eleuthero if you have health conditions, like diabetes, high blood pressure, a mental disease, or a hormone-sensitive condition.
For those suffering any of these conditions, the National Institute of Health recommends using eleuthero or Siberian ginseng under a professional healthcare provider’s supervision. (11)
Dosage and Preparation for Eleuthero
There is no standard dose of eleuthero for any condition due to insufficient scientific evidence. The exact dosage may vary depending on several factors, such as gender, age, and medical history of an individual. Before directly using eleuthero, it is suggested to talk to your doctor for personalized advice. (11)
Putting all details together, lack of toxicity & side-effects, plenty of therapeutic actions, and overall normalizing effects justify the reputation of eleuthero as the King of Adaptogens.
Compared to other adaptogens, Siberian ginseng can help in balancing the body. For instance:
- Eleuthero can help in normalizing blood sugar levels in either high or low blood sugar.
- Eleuthero helps normalize blood pressure in people with either lowered or elevated blood pressure. (12)
Besides, remember that eleuthero products often include adulterants. To avoid adulterants and serious consequences, read the labels of the product carefully. Or consider consulting your doctor to recommend the right eleuthero product for you.
If you’re planning to use eleuthero for treating a chronic disease, ensure to visit a physician before starting your supplement regimen.
1. An Overview of Eleutherococcus senticosus - https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/neuroscience/eleutherococcus-senticosus
2. History of Eleuthero - http://cms.herbalgram.org/ABCGuide/Monographs/Eleuthero.html?ts=1583735910&signature=8aee83117823f68f209506872eb1248e
3. Adaptogens in Medicinal Herbalism, Donald Yance, CN, MH, RH(AHG)
4. Eleuthero as Siberian Ginseng - http://cms.herbalgram.org/ABCGuide/Monographs/Eleuthero.html
5. Adaptogens: Herbs for Strength, Stamina, and Stress Relief - https://www.researchgate.net/publication/200457671_Adaptogens_Herbs_for_Strength_Stamina_and_Stress_Relief
6. Evidence-Based Efficacy of Adaptogens in Fatigue, and Molecular Mechanisms Related to their Stress-Protective Activity - http://www.eurekaselect.com/69852/article
7. Randomized Controlled Trial of Siberian Ginseng for Chronic Fatigue - https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/psychological-medicine/article/randomized-controlled-trial-of-siberian-ginseng-for-chronic-fatigue/B9941CDB55F4C53FF5DB1D48B5C350A7
8. Eleuthero in Treating Uncomplicated Respiratory Disease - https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/ptr.1359
9. Eleuthero Can Help Cut High Cholesterol - https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0006291X08014435?via%3Dihub
10. I. Brekhman and I. V. Dardymov, “New substances of plant origin which increase nonspecific resistance,” Annual Review of Pharmacology 9 (1969): 419–30
11. Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials Evaluating the Efficacy and Safety of Ginseng - https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2005290111600137?via%3Dihub
12. V. J. Kupin, “Eleutherococcus and other biologically active modifiers in oncology,” in Bioactive Compounds, ed. Todorov and Zaikov, 22–27