What is eleuthero?

Eleuthero (Eleutherococcus senticosus or Acanthopanax senticosus) also known as Siberian ginseng, is an ancient medicinal plant native to Japan, Korea, and northern China.  It is a small, woody shrub that produces round, blueberry-like fruits. Also known as Siberian ginseng, archeological evidence suggests that eleuthero was first used in traditional Chinese medicine more than 2,000 years ago. 

Eleuthero (Siberian ginseng) is a distant relative of the “true” ginseng family, which includes American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) and Korean ginseng (Panax ginseng). But, interestingly, eleuthero didn’t drive much attention until Panax ginseng became increasingly expensive and difficult to obtain due to overharvesting. 

Eleuthero is an adaptogenic herb

If you keep up to date with health and wellness trends, you may have heard about adaptogenic herbs. 

Adaptogens are plant compounds that, as the name suggests, may help the body adapt to and increase resistance to stress. They are believed to support the immune system, boost cognitive function, and increase nervous system function.  

Eleuthero is one of the most well-known adaptogenic herbs. Research on the health benefits of eleuthero is still relatively recent. Nevertheless, evidence suggests that this plant can help the body stay balanced in the presence of stress, sharpen mental alertness, and improve overall health. Eleuthero is also valued for its naturally stimulating effects. 

Siberian Ginseng - Eleuthero

What is eleuthero used for?

In traditional Chinese medicine, Siberian ginseng was used to invigorate the chi (energy), strengthen the bones, and reduce swelling. Other alternative medicine systems used eleuthero root to stimulate breast milk production and support liver health. 

Eleuthero is now widely used as a dietary supplement for its numerous health benefits. The plant’s roots, bark, stem, and leaves can be used to make eleuthero extract, which is sold in capsule, tablet, powder, or tincture form. 

Bioactive compounds found in Siberian ginseng show antioxidant, anticancer, antibacterial, and immune-boosting activity.

If you’re interested in using Eleuthero for immune support, consider implementing a nutritional supplement with eleuthero on a daily basis.

Here are six science-backed potential health benefits of Eleuthero (Siberian ginseng):

Increasing blood pressure

Eleuthero is considered a natural stimulant. Herbal stimulants like Ashwagandha, caffeine, Panax ginseng, eleuthero can boost energy levels and protect mental function.

Research suggests that stimulants can increase heart rate and promote circulation, which may raise blood pressure over time. People who suffer from low blood pressure (hypotension) experience dizziness and fainting spells, and just like high blood pressure, hypotension can be life-threatening in severe cases. 

Treating the common cold

When combined with Andrographis, Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus) could be effective for treating the common cold, according to a 2004 study

For the analysis, 130 children diagnosed with uncomplicated common cold were assigned into three groups. One group was administered a standard treatment plus eleuthero/Andrographis tablets. One received a standard treatment and echinacea drops. And the third group received the standard treatment only, which consisted of paracetamol, warm drinks, and throat gargles. 

The results of the study showed that all groups improved over the first five days. But participants in the eleuthero group recovered significantly faster and experienced less severe symptoms than their counterparts in the other two groups.  

Although research is limited, proponents claim that Siberian ginseng also supports the immune system.

A word on the effects of eleuthero extract for COVID-19: To date, no supplement, diet, or medicinal herb has been shown to prevent or treat COVID-19. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, practicing proper hygiene, and following guidelines are the most effective ways to keep your immune system healthy and reduce your chance of infection. 

Supporting menopause

Eleutherosides are a group of chemical compounds isolated from the eleuthero plant. These bioactive ingredients are largely credited for this herb’s anti-fatigue and stress-relieving effects. 

Preliminary studies suggest that eleutherosides may also bind to estrogen receptor sites, potentially reducing menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, decreased sex drive, and fatigue. 

Managing blood sugar levels

Eleuthero, which is still sometimes called by its original botanical name Acanthopanax senticosus, may improve symptoms of diabetes. 

In a 2010 animal study, an extract made from the leaves of different types of eleuthero plants significantly improved fat metabolism among mice induced with diabetes. The results also suggested that eleuthero may help regulate blood sugar and improve cholesterol. 

And a study in the International Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported that 480 mg of Siberian ginseng lowered blood sugar levels in participants with type 2 diabetes. 

Boosting cognitive functioning

Eleuthero is considered one of the most powerful “brain herbs,” which are plant compounds that can improve mental clarity, support memory, and protect against age-related cognitive decline. 

More research is needed to understand the exact mechanisms of eleuthero for supporting brain function. However, it is believed that by increasing circulation, eleutherosides in Siberian ginseng may encourage blood flow to and from the brain, improving mental clarity. 

Athletic performance 

Evidence suggests that eleuthero can enhance athletic performance. As a stimulating adaptogen, eleuthero can improve energy levels and stamina. 

A 2010 study published in the Chinese Journal of Physiology found that supplementation with Eleutherococcus senticosus (800 mg daily for eight weeks) enhanced endurance capacity. Participants taking eleuthero also experienced an improvement in cardiovascular function less extersion when performing cycling trials. 

Other health benefits

Other potential health benefits of Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus) might include:

  • May reduce anxiety and depression
  • Could help manage breast cancer
  • May support sexual function
  • Might improve sleep
  • Could help relieve fatigue

Is eleuthero safe?

Eleuthero is generally considered safe for healthy adults when taken for up to six months. Although side effects are rare, eleuthero is regarded as a stimulant and could cause nervousness, anxiety, and insomnia in some people. 

Note: Always talk with your healthcare provider before taking new dietary supplements if you have a health condition or take prescription medications.

 

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