Eleuthero Identification: Siberian ginseng is a shrub that grows 3 to 10 feet high. Its leaves are attached to a main stem by long branches. Both the branches and the stem are covered with thorns. Flowers, yellow or violet, grow in umbrella-shaped clusters, and turn into round, black berries in late summer. The root itself is woody and is brownish, wrinkled, and twisted.
Other Names: Eleuthero, Devil’s root, Touch-me-not, Siberian ginseng (it is not a type of ginseng), Acanthopanax senticosus, Ci Wu Jia, Devil’s Bush, Russian Root, Shigoka, Taiga, Thorny Pepperbush, Wild Pepper.
Habitat: Rich, moist but well-drained soil. Full sun or partial shade. Indigenous to China, Japan, Korea, and Siberia.
Parts Used: Root and rhizomes.
Constituents: Eleutherosides A-G, Phenylpropanoids, Lignans, Coumarins, sugars, Sterols, & Polysaccharides.
Note: Today it is called “Eleuthero” instead of “Siberian Ginseng”, because it is not true ginseng. The United States Congressional amendment to the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act – signed into law in May 2002 – eliminates any confusion regarding what is true ginseng. Now only the genus Panax can be called ginseng on labeling or in advertising.
Uses: Siberian ginseng is a powerful tonic herb with an impressive range of health benefits. Unlike many herbs with a medicinal use, it is more useful for maintaining good health rather than treating ill health. Research has shown that it stimulates resistance to stress and so it is now widely used as a tonic in times of stress and pressure. In an alarming situation, the adrenal glands release corticosteroids and adrenaline which prepare the organism for the fight or flight reaction. When these hormones are depleted, the organism reaches an exhaustive phase. Eleutherococcus delays the exhaustive phase and allows a more economical and efficient release of these hormones.
Siberian Ginseng strengthens the adrenal and reproductive glands. It enhances immune function, helps prevent infection, promotes lung functioning and stimulates the appetite. It useful for bronchitis, circulatory problems, diabetes, infertility, lack of energy, and stress. There is some evidence that it can help ease withdrawal from cocaine, and help improve drug or alcohol induced liver dysfunction in older adults. Siberian Ginseng protects the body against the effects of radiation exposure. It is used by athletes for overall body strengthening. Siberian Ginseng is most effective in the treatment of prolonged exhaustion and debility, resulting from overwork and long-term stress.
Possible Side Effects: Siberian ginseng is very safe at recommended doses, even for long-term use. In rare instances, mild diarrhea may occur.
At very high doses (900 mg daily and higher) insomnia, nervousness, irritability, and anxiety have been reported.
Safety: It is safe when used as directed. However, it should not be taken by those with high blood pressure, obstructive sleep apnea (repeated, prolonged periods when breathing stops while sleeping), narcolepsy (frequent day time sleeping), or by women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Siberian ginseng should be taken before 3 P.M. to avoid insomnia.
Preparations and Dosages: Tincture: [1:5, 60% alcohol] 20 to 60 drops, up to 3 times a day.
Cold Infusion: 2 to 4 ounces, up to 3 times a day.
Fluid extract: (1:1): 1/2 to 1 tsp. Two to three times per day.
Solid extracts, made from dried, powdered root are also available. Look for products that contain at least 1% eleutheroside F, and take 100 to 200 mg three times per day.