Herb Feature


Eleutherococcus Senticosus is the botanical name for Siberian Ginseng, and this wonderful plant medicine has been dubbed the ultimate adaptogen; that is, a plant medicine that improves your body’s capacity to resist stressors, whether they are physical, chemical, psychological, or microbial. Some research even suggests that Eleuthero even reduces the negative effects of radiation exposure. Let’s explore this miraculous plant a bit more…

Not to be confused with Korean (Panax) Ginseng, Eleutherococcus is native to North-eastern Asia and has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine reducing fatigue and recovering from illness. It is a tough little shrub which grows in a variety of soils, can tolerate extreme temperatures, and can grow in nutrient poor conditions and has considerable resistance to pollution. Some Herbalists believe that the characteristics of a plant medicine can be a good indicator of its potential to help the people who take it. This observation appears to be true for Eleuthero, as studies show that it can improve energy, reduce insomnia, enhance immune function, improve mental and physical performance, reduce side effects of many drugs (including chemotherapy) and also improve mood and stress resistance.

In specific clinical trials, Eleuthero improved maximal work capacity in male athletes by 23.3% with 300mg of dried root extract per day. A Russian study showed a 50% reduction in lost work days due to illness over a one year period compared to placebo in a group of 1000 factory workers in Siberia: the average daily temperature was minus 5 degrees Celsius! Another study demonstrated a significant increase in T-helper lymphocytes and natural killer cells (immune cells essential in fighting viral infections and cancer) in healthy subjects at a dose of 6 grams per day of dried root, compared to placebo. Other uncontrolled trials have shown Eleuthero to improve performance, stamina and strength, improve reading speed and reduce errors in proof-readers, increase survival times and quality of life in people with terminal illnesses, improve lung and heart capacity in people with chronic lung diseases and atherosclerosis respectively, and many others…

In summary, Eleuthero is a non-specific herbal medicine which improves physical and mental energy, immunity, and the activity of virtually every system of the body, while simultaneously improving mood and general wellbeing. Side effects are rare, but may include disturbed sleep, palpitations and increased heart rate. This is interesting because for the vast majority of people, the herbal extract of Siberian Ginseng will reduce these symptoms in people. I find it very useful because it doesn’t tend to have the stimulating effects of Korean/ Panax Ginseng, so it can be used when people have fatigue with anxiety. This wonderful plant medicine is generally safe to take for most people in most cases, but always listen to your body, and, as always, speak to a qualified Naturopath/ Herbalist to see if this is a good match for you. See you next time!

David is a practicing Naturopath/ Herbalist.

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