Eleuthero is also known as Siberian ginseng. It is an Asian herb used for thousands of years as part of folk medicine. It is a relative of the other ginsengs, including the American Ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) and the Asian Ginseng (Panax ginseng).
It is believed to help the body handle stress better (as an adaptogen). Proponents believe it can also boost immunity and fight infections. However, there is no good human evidence supporting most of its purported benefits (1).
Is eleuthero really the powerfully beneficial herb it is thought to be? We will explore that question in this post.
Eleuthero is not the same as the true ginseng (Asian and American ginsengs). It has different constituents. Some of these include phytosterols, triterpene saponins, and glycosides (1).
Though certain benefits of eleuthero can be comparable to that of true ginseng, the former could be less potent. The herb is available in the form of a tincture, tea, herbal supplement capsule, or a pill.
Whether eleuthero actually benefits human health is still a matter of debate. Research has been done on the herb’s potency, and in the following section, we have discussed it in length.
The health benefits of eleuthero that have been proven by solid research are limited. While some evidence is conflicting, some other studies offer unclear answers. The potential health benefits of eleuthero include the following:
Some research suggests that eleuthero may have anti-fatigue properties. The herb may help alleviate both physical and mental fatigue. It may achieve this by increasing fat utilization and reducing the accumulation of lactic acid in the muscles (2).
Eleuthero supplementation was also found to improve endurance capacity and metabolism in humans. The herbal supplement could also elevate cardiovascular functions (3).
In yet another study, the active components in eleuthero were found to affect physical fitness in humans (4).
Another study conducted on the elderly showed some promise. The use of Siberian ginseng (eleuthero) in the elderly helped improve certain aspects of their mental health and social functioning. The herb could also improve fatigue (5).
Laboratory studies show that the active components of eleuthero may promote cardiovascular health. However, more research is warranted to arrive at a conclusion (6). Though the herb seems to have been used in folk medicine for heart health, modern medicine is yet to find strong evidence.
There is some contradictory evidence too. Some research says that eleuthero may elevate blood pressure levels (7). This may cause more harm to heart health.
Please check with your doctor before trying this herb for heart health as research is scant.
In rat studies, eleuthero exhibited neuroprotective effects. The herb was found to prevent delayed neuronal death in the rats. It could also help the rats with the recovery of their spacial memory. These effects of eleuthero could be attributed to its possible anti-inflammatory properties (8).
Eleuthero may also boost cognitive function, though the mechanism is yet to be studied. Some reports state that the herb may also help treat hangovers (9).
A specific carbohydrate in eleuthero may help prevent cancer and even aid its treatment. It may stimulate the immune system and contribute in recovery. The herb may also help the patients fight the fatigue associated with the disease (10).
The herb had also shown inhibitory effects on the cancers of the lung and colon (10).
A dietary supplement with eleuthero as one of the major ingredients had shown therapeutic effects against prostate cancer (11).
Siberian ginseng had shown beneficial effects on glucose metabolism in type 2 diabetes patients. This effect was attributed to the eleutherosides in the herb. In the study, the herb was also found to induce no adverse effects (12).
In another study, the same compound in eleuthero could also improve insulin resistance in diabetic mice (13).
However, some research states that eleuthero may increase blood sugar levels (7). Hence, please check with your doctor before using eleuthero for this purpose.
Eleuthero may prevent bone loss. This effect was observed in rats with osteoporosis (14). After eight weeks of treatment with the herb, the femur bone density in the rats was higher.
In another study, treatment with eleuthero had reduced calcium excretion in rats. This way, it could increase the strength of the vertebrae of the rats (15).
In ancient Chinese medicine, eleuthero was used to prevent colds, flu, and other respiratory tract infections. The herb enhanced the activation of T lymphocytes, cells that are part of the immune system that help protect the body from infections (18).
However, more research is warranted in this area.
The lymphatic system is responsible for the removal of interstitial fluids from the body’s tissues. It also absorbs and transports the beneficial fatty acids across the body.
Some research shows that eleuthero can promote lymphatic function. It may also help treat edema in individuals (19).
There is less research here. One study states that extracts of eleuthero may have protective effects on the body’s neurons and may even help repair nerve damage (20). However, more research is warranted to establish these findings.
Though eleuthero has been in use for millennia, modern science is yet to discover concrete evidence for some of its benefits. As discussed, the safety of this herb is still under question (at least in some cases). In the following section, we discuss the possible health complications this ancient herb may result in.
Ginseng, in general, can alter bleeding time and increase bleeding in individuals. Eleuthero may have similar effects. This herb thins the blood, so patients who already are on blood thinners (like Warfarin) must exercise caution (21).
Eleuthero may elevate blood pressure levels and even cause heart palpitations (22). Though some research states its cardioprotective properties, we suggest you be careful. Please consult your doctor before using eleuthero for heart health.
Eleuthero may also cause anxiety and irritability (22). These can possibly lead to insomnia and nervousness. Hence, we do not recommend taking eleuthero before you go to bed.
There is no data on the safety of using eleuthero during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Hence, please avoid use and make sure you discuss it with your doctor.
As discussed, more research is warranted, and until then, you should use the herb only under the guidance of an established health expert.
If your health care provider recommends the herb, there are a few things you must consider.
If your doctor recommends it, you may consider buying eleuthero. It is sold in the form of powder, tincture, capsules, or tablets.
The US FDA does not regulate the production and safety of most herbal supplements, including that of eleuthero. Hence, you must consult your health care provider. Please avoid self-medication.
Go for a trusted brand. Make it a point to read the product ingredient labels. Also, do not confuse eleuthero (Siberian Ginseng) with the other types of ginseng.
The ideal dosage of eleuthero is not specified. Please follow the instructions given by your doctor. The safe dosage for treating certain infections seems to be 400 milligrams, thrice a day (about 1,200 milligrams a day) (22).
Eleuthero has been used for thousands of years in folk medicine. It sure may improve exercise performance and help fight fatigue. But it doesn’t fare well on most of the other benefits we discussed in this post as more research is required. Hence, it is important to consult your doctor before you consume eleuthero.
Hope this article has given you an insight into eleuthero. Share your feedback by leaving a comment in the box below.
How to make eleuthero root tea?
You can use the powder or the leaves to make the tea. Boil them and filter the liquid. You can have the tea as specified by your doctor.
Is eleuthero good for weight loss?
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