Araliaceae, or the Ginseng family
Habitat & Cultivation:
Eleuthrococcus s. grows abundantly in Russia and Northern China, and was introduced to the USA in the late 1970s as “Siberian Ginseng” although it is not actually a ginseng! (Yance, 2013). In China, Korea and Japan people have used true ginseng for centuries for many circumstances, Eleuthrococcus s. was thought to be less of a substitute for true ginseng in those regions though it was also thought to deliver energy and vitality as well as prevention of respiratory problems, colds and the flu. In the Soviet area, people tried to find an equivalent to p. ginseng and chose Eleuthrococcus s. because it grew locally and had habitat and morphology like ginseng. It did not become popular until the 1950s but was then approved by the Ministry of Health in Russia as an adaptogen (Yance).
Roots and leaves of the plant are used, however, the root has more documented research. The forms used are: Powdered root, decoction, tincture, infusion, fluid extract
Nonspecific anti-stress effects
Neuroprotective (Yance, 2013)
Stress intolerance. Used for adrenal support, nervous and mood disorders such as depression, mental fatigue, and poor concentration and is a traditional remedy to improve immune function in both chronic and acute infections.
Heart conditions: Siberian ginseng can cause a pounding heart, irregular heartbeat, and high blood pressure. People who have heart disorders (e.g., “hardening of the arteries,” rheumatic heart disease, or history of heart attack) should use Siberian ginseng only under a healthcare provider’s supervision.
Diabetes: Siberian ginseng might increase or decrease blood sugar. In theory, Siberian ginseng might affect blood sugar control in people with diabetes. Monitor your blood sugar carefully if you take Siberian ginseng and have diabetes.
Hormone-sensitive conditions such as breast cancer, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, endometriosis, or uterine fibroids: Siberian ginseng might act like estrogen. If you have any condition that might be made worse by exposure to estrogen, don’t use Siberian ginseng.
High blood pressure: Siberian ginseng should not be used by people with blood pressure over 180/90. Siberian ginseng might make high blood pressure worse.
Mental conditions such as mania or schizophrenia: Siberian ginseng might make these conditions worse. Use with caution.
CNS, Cardiovascular, Respiratory, Hepatic, Circulatory, Immune, Gastrointestinal, Neurological (Romm, 2010)
The energetic qualities of eleuthero are pungent and sweet. VK-P+ Eleuthero decreases with kapha, increases with pitta and is neutral with vata (Frawley & Lad 2001). Many herbalists consider eleuthero energetically neutral and appropriate for all constitutional types. Consider pungent & sweet tastes have very balancing qualities: pungent is warming, drying, and stimulating while sweet is cooling, moistening, and stable.
Pregnancy category B1: No evidence of increased fetal damage in animal studies
Lactation Category C: Compatible with breastfeeding. AHPA: Category 1A, no known contraindications, precautions, or drug or supplement interactions.
Aqueous extract: decoction
Alcohol extract: Tincture (1:4)
I use Eleuthero tincture daily for balance and focus.
Frawley, D. & Lad, V. (2001). The Yoga of Herbs. Twin Lakes, Wisconsin: Lotus Press.
Hoffman, D. (2003). Medical Herbalism. Healing Arts Press: Vermont.
Mills, S., & Bone, K. (2005). The Essential Guide to Herbal Safety. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone.
Romm, A. (2010). Botanical medicine for women's health. St. Louis, Mo: Churchill Livingstone/Elsevier.
Yance, D. (2013). Eleutherococcus senticosus monograph. Adaptogens in Medical Herbalism. Healing Arts Press.
Eleuthero (Eleutherococcus senticosus)