Getting to Know Herbs: Eleuthero (Siberian ginseng)

in #gardening2 years ago (edited)

Also commonly called Siberian ginseng, eleuthero is a revered adaptogen that can support the body during physical or mental stress and alleviate exhaustion and depression. It's also used in conjunction with chemotherapy. Roots are harvested in the fall to make the medicinal extract from.

Photo by @krnel

Eleuthero is originally an Asian herb that's been used for thousands of years in folk medicine. Formerly called Siberian ginseng, the name was changed to avoid confusion with the true American (Panax quinquefolius) or Asian (Panax ginseng) ginseng plant. This ginseng relative is less researched for it's health effects, making it less prized and less expensive.

Key Points

  • not a true ginseng, but a relative
  • thousands of years of use in folk medicine
  • little scientific proof done to validate claims
  • anxiety and depression relief


The scientific name is Eleutherococcus senticosus, but is also called Acanthopanax Obovatus, Acanthopanax Obovatus Hoo, Acanthopanax senticosus, Buisson du Diable, Ci Wu Jia, Ciwujia, Ciwujia Root, Ciwujia Root Extract, Devil's Bush, Devil's Shrub, Éleuthéro, Eleuthero Extract, Eleuthero Ginseng, Eleuthero Root, Eleutherococci Radix, Eleutherococcus senticosus, Éleuthérocoque, Ginseng de Sibérie, Ginseng des Russes, Ginseng Root, Ginseng Siberiano, Ginseng Sibérien, Hedera senticosa, North Wu Jia Pi, Phytoestrogen, Plante Secrète des Russes, Poivre Sauvage, Prickly Eleutherococcus, Racine d’Eleuthérocoque, Racine de Ginseng, Racine Russe, Russian Root, Shigoka, Siberian Eleuthero, Siberian Ginseng, Thorny Bearer of Free Berries, Touch-Me-Not, Untouchable, Ussuri, Ussurian Thorny Pepperbrush, Wild Pepper, Wu Jia Pi, Wu-jia.

The name Eleutherococcus is Greek, meaning "free-berried", and senticosus is Latin, meaning thorn-bush, briar.

Where is it found?

It forms low undergrowths in mountain forests, sometimes at the foot of cliffs in oak groves. Native to East Asia, China, Japana and Russia. It tolerates all types of soils like sandy, loamy, and heavy clay soils, with any type of alkalinity, including soils of low nutritional value.

What's it used for?

The root extract has including lignans, sesamin (eleutheroside B4), syringaresinol, phenylpropanes, coumarins, beta-sitosterol and daucosterol. The berries have polyphenols such as caffeic acid, vanillic acid, ferulic acid, p-coumaric acid, and benzoic acid, with significant content of calcium, magnesium, and potassium.

Main uses:

  • heart disease prevention
  • anxiety relief
  • depression relief
  • recovery from stress burnout

Eleuthero is called an "adaptogen", which is a non-medical term to refer to a substance that is supposed to strengthen the body and increase stress resistance. It's also used for the heart and blood vessels such as high blood pressure, low blood pressure, hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), rheumatic heart disease, kidney disease, Alzheimer’s disease, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), chronic fatigue syndrome, diabetes, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, flu, colds, chronic bronchitis, tuberculosis and in treating the effects of chemotherapy such as increasing appetite.

As an adaptogen, it's used for boosting the immune system and prevent colds. Some use it for increasing performance, to treat sleeping issues like insomnia and for symptoms of herpes simplex type 2.

Are there any risks?

It's likely safe for oral short term use, with rare side effects which could include drowsiness, changes in heart rhythm, sadness, anxiety, and muscle spasms. High doses can increase blood pressure. Long-term oral use is possibly safe, as well as short-term IV injection for two weeks.

It's also possibly safe for children, but unknown for pregnant women and those breast feeding. Issues may arise for those with bleeding disorders as it might slow blood clotting or increase the risk of bruising. Eleuthero can cause high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat and pounding heart, and should be avoided if a heart condition exists. There are warning of use for those with mental conditions like mania or schizophrenia. The risks as well as the benefits aren't scientifically proven.


Previous posts on Getting to Know Herbs:
Black Cohosh | Common Bearberry | Mahonia Mountain Grape (Oregon Grape) | Blue Cohosh | Goldenseal

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Most of these herbs have natural healing agents to medically help you. But you probably will not find this out from your family doctor as it is all about money. They and big pharma cannot make as much off you if you are healing yourself on your own. Thanks @krnel.

Yup, herbs are the original medicine ;) Synthetic drugs replaced them, for better or worse in some cases, but to ignore the natural healing of plants is folly.

Hi @krnel nice photography! Actually i have been taken it for past 5 months, it is fantastic for energy boost and sleep quality, it is a magic pill! I have had the best sleeps in my life, my sleep was very deep and sweet every night. but 3 weeks ago i have swapped to Korean Ginseng for fear it" over stimulates the immune sys", i can feel both my energy and sleep is compromising (with Korean Ginseng). I am having Autoimmune disorder, i wont like my immune sys to be further stimulated, I am also vey puzzled what's the term Stimulate really mean? can u please offer guidance?

Stimulate means to excite it, to make it more active. You can look online in a dictionary for more examples of what stimulate means. For an immune system, it meas to make your immune system more active and work more.

Thank you for linking to the previous articles you have written up. A question. I know many medications have side effects if taken with other medications. In your posts I have noticed several of the herbs help with some of the same body functions. Is it safe to take several of these different types, or could there be a bad reaction if mixed with other herbs?

The herb might have contraindication with some medication. Look into info on the combination of the plant plus the med to see if there are issues. Some plants can act on the liver to make it slower to process drugs, making them last longer, or act stronger.

The benefits of Eleuthero include increased performance, endurance, and resistance to stress, by multiple actions related to the HPA axis. Thank q for sharing valuable information about Eleuthero.

Thanks for the additional info. You're welcome.

Amazing post @krnel especially this photography is beautiful...

Is this herb good to take everyday of your life?Or should you discontinue from time to time?
I'm dealing with a low immune system.

I think you should try to find a herbalist who has more knowledge on the plant. Non-high doses for long term don't seem to have that bad of side effects, but I'm not a professional in this field. You can search online to try to find your answers and see if things make sense. Or trust a herbalist to tell you.

guao incredible health properties even with long-term side effects I think they are in fact irrelevant because they are similar to those of coffee

Yup, it's pretty mild for issues I find. I think it's pretty safe overall. ;)

I laughed when it said " possibly safe for children"

It's not scientifically studied. So likely it is, as it is for adults, but not certain. I don't think it's very dangerous at all.

Nice photography @krnel
Nice experience.

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What good information brother, it helped me to have read this post ... it is excellent, and I loved the photos greetings.

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