Eleuthero is a herbal adaptogen that has been used for its various health benefits.
This herb has been shown to increase mental and physical energy and promote longer-lasting stamina.
Below we’ll dive into the history, benefits, and safety of this herb.
Table of Contents
- What is Eleuthero Root?
- Health Benefits of Eleuthero:
- Naming & Taxonomy:
- History & Traditional Use:
- Eleuthero vs. Other Herbs:
What is Eleuthero Root?
Eleuthero is a shrub in the Araliaceae family that grows throughout northeast Asia. Its scientific name is Acanthopanax senticosus (it was previously known as Eleutherococcus senticosus).
This herb has a variety of different names, including Siberian ginseng, eleutherococcus, ciwujia (Chinese), and devil’s bush.
It was used in traditional Chinese medicine to nourish qi, fortify the spleen, tonify the kidney, and tranquilize the mind.
New research shows that it helps to improve energy and physical stamina, as well as support the immune system.
This herb is not a true ginseng, but it does work as an adaptogen in that it supports the body against stress.
Health Benefits of Eleuthero:
Eleuthero is noted as being a stimulating, energy-producing herb. This property is characteristic of its various health benefits.
1. May Increase Energy & Physical Stamina
Eleuthero root is known for supporting increased energy as well as improved physical stamina and athletic performance.
Research has shown that Eleuthero supplementation helped to increase physical work capacity in 6 healthy male athletes by 23%. While this study was small, it does show promising effects.
Another clinical study showed that Eleuthero worked to increase lipid utilization for energy during exercise. Additionally, the study found that individuals that took Eleuthero had a lower heart rate as compared to the control group.
Another study showed that Eleuthero supplementation helped to increase VO2 max (12%), endurance time improved (23%), and max highest heart rate reached (4%). This study also found that Eleutherococcus helps to impact metabolism by sparing glycogen.
Summary:Eleuthero may increase energy and physical endurance.
2. May Support Stress Adaptation
As an adaptogen, it makes sense that eleuthero works to build up the body’s resilience to stress.
Testing stress resilience is difficult to quantify. That is until Russian scientists created the forced swim test.
This test was devised to see eleuthero worked to decrease fatigue and improve the ability to adapt to stress.
The test consisted of putting a mouse in a bucket of water and forcing it to swim for 15 minutes. The animal was then pulled out of the water and its recovery time was measured.
While this type of study was created by Russian researchers in the middle of the 20th century, this type of test is still used today.
A recent study showed that eleuthero extract worked to increase the recovery time of mice put through a forced swim test. The research also found that the group given eleuthero root extract had increased fatty acid β-oxidation activity.
Other animal studies have found that eleutherococcus helped to increase resilience to stressors such as cold, heat, immobilization, trauma, blood loss, and more.
Summary:Eleuthero root may work to improve the body’s resilience to stress.
3. May Support The Immune System
New research shows that eleuthero may have immunomodulatory effects.
A small study with 10 healthy individuals showed that eleutherococcus root influenced cytokine activity. Cytokines are small protein molecules that work to signal the immune system.
Another study found that eleuthero produced an immune-boosting effect in cancer patients. Additionally, this trial found that the healthy control group also received immune-boosting effects.
Summary:Eleuthero may help to boost the immune system.
4. Antioxidant Properties
Eleuthero was frequently used in TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) for inflammatory diseases. Modern research bears this out as it appears that this herb has strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity.
In vitro (i.e. test tube) studies show that phytochemicals within Eleutherococcus, particularly isofraxidin, work to modulate inflammation within the body. It should be noted that in this study, the researchers were looking at arthritis-induced inflammation.
Other studies have also shown the antioxidant effects of eleuthero.
Summary:Eleuthero may have antioxidant properties, however, more research is needed to verify this finding.
5. Other Benefits:
•May Protect Against Radiation: It’s noted that eleuthero root has also been studied for its benefits for building resistance to radiation and carcinogens. Further research is required to substantiate this claim.
•May Support Heart Health: Eleutherococcus is also noted as being potentially helpful for heart health. A few animal studies show promising effects, but more research is needed.
Summary:Eleuthero root may have additional benefits such as improving heart health and increasing radiation and carcinogen resistance. Clinical research is needed to confirm these findings.
Safety Class: 1 (can be safely used when consumed properly)
Interaction Class: A (no clinically relevant reactions are expected)
Eleuthero is a relatively safe herb to take. A review of clinical trials (over 4,000 patients) showed that eleuthero was well tolerated with no significant adverse effects.
There are no known contraindications or drug/supplement interactions. As an adaptogenic herb, this makes sense, as adaptogens are noted to be safe for long-term use.
Pregnancy & Lactation:
Basic animal studies have been conducted and show no adverse effects of this herb during pregnancy. No research has been done on taking eleuthero while breastfeeding.
As always, it’s best to talk with your doctor about taking a new herb prior to ingestion.
Whole Powder: 1-4 grams per day for adults (healthy individuals should use the lower range, the higher range should be used by those with illness or in high-stress situations)
Tincture (2:1): 2-8ml per day
Standardized Extract (with Eleutheroside E): 1.25g dose can be taken 1-3 times daily
Naming & Taxonomy:
Calling this herb “Siberian ginseng” is more of a marketing ploy than anything. It is not truly a form of ginseng (on the level of American Ginseng or Asian Ginseng).
Eleuthero’s scientific name is Acanthopanax senticosus (it was previously known as Eleutherococcus senticosus), though the two names are used interchangeably.
Eleuthero is a woody shrub that grows abundantly in far eastern Russia, Korea, China, and Japan (north of latitude 38).
History & Traditional Use:
In China, eleuthero was known as “ciwujia”. It had limited use in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) until more recent times. This is due to the fact that a similar plant called Periploca sepium has significant potential for toxicity.
In TCM, this plant was used for treating people with “wind/damp” musculoskeletal conditions. “Wind” conditions are spasmodic conditions while “damp” conditions correlate to swelling. Thus, eleuthero would have been used in illnesses such as rheumatism.
In Li Shizhen’s Compendium of Materia Medica (known as “Bencao Gangmu” and written in 1593), he recommends that ciwujia be used for people with hernias, paralysis, weak tendons, and weak ligaments.
He also notes that long-term use of eleuthero makes one “feel happy and vigorous” and that it helps retard aging (Winston, 2019). These are early intuitions of its present status as an adaptogen.
The most common preparation of this herb in TCM was as a wine. Typically it was mixed with other herbs as a tonic for fatigue, arthritis, and lower back pain.
The active constituents are thought to be a group of compounds known as eleutherosides. There are a variety of different eleutherosides, they are distinguished by the letters A-G (i.e. “eleutheroside E”).
This plant also contains Triterpenoid saponins.
It’s also noted that it contains a special class of glycans known as eleutherans.
Eleuthero vs. Other Herbs:
Eleuthero is often compared with many other different types of herbs. We have put together helpful articles going over the most common comparisons.
Eleuthero is a safe herb with promising abilities for increasing energy and stamina, as well as stress adaptation, and immune health. It can be an effective supplement to help naturally support your body.
We recommend using it in conjunction with other adaptogenic herbs like Rhodiola or Ashwagandha to improve their effectiveness in combating the effects of physical and mental stressors.
If you’re looking to naturally support your body without harsh stimulants or chemicals, consider trying this herb.
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