What Is Siberian Ginseng (Eleuthero)

Siberian ginseng, also known as Eleuthero, is a bit different than your traditional Asian or American ginseng. Heavily studied during World War II by the Soviet Union, Siberian ginseng is an adaptogenic herb that offers several benefits promoting the body’s resistance to stress. Studies have shown that eleuthero acts as a stimulant and may boost energy levels, reduce fatigue, and enhance exercise performance increasing nervous system function. 

What Is Siberian Ginseng

Siberian ginseng or Eleuthero is native to regions in Japan, Northern China, Southeast Russia and Korea. Although they may have similar benefits, Siberian Ginseng is not related to American Ginseng or Asian Ginseng. Studies show that Siberian ginseng increases one's ability to “adapt” to environmental factors, including physical and emotional stress - hence the name adaptogen. Adaptogens are ancient herbs used in traditional Chinese and Indian ayurvedic medicine, which contain anxiolytic or anti-anxiety effects. The idea that there could be a pill or powder which could improve physical and mental performance was devised during World War II by the Soviet Union who was interested in a way to stimulate the mental and physical performance of fighter pilots and submarine crew. The extent of research carried out was enormous, with 1099 studies (primarily pharmacological and clinical research) involving Eleutherococcus senticosus aka Siberian ginseng.

Siberian Ginseng Benefits

Eleuthero’s benefits are comparable to traditional ginseng. Evidence suggests that Siberian Ginseng may enhance athletic performance, boost energy levels, and improve stress and anxiety.

1. Reduces Chronic Fatigue 

Chronic fatigue can greatly affect quality of life, interfering with mood and critical thinking. A study conducted by the University Of Iowa, conducted a randomized controlled trial, to evaluate the effects of Siberian Ginseng on chronic fatigue. 96 subjects were randomized into two groups, with 2-month follow up. Study results indicated that fatigue severity and duration were significantly reduced within the test group as compared to the control [R].

2. Improves Brain Health

A review published in 2008, investigated the effects of adaptogens including Eleuthero, Rhodiola, Schisandra chinensis and found that all were involved in the protection of brain neurons from various injuries, purporting to have an influence neurodegenerative mechanisms in Parkinson’s disease [R].

11 different studies found in the Journal of Clinical Pharmacology found that Siberian ginseng had a significant and beneficial effect on stress-induced symptoms under fatigue, improving attention and mental acuity [R].

3. Reduces Stress And Anxiety

Adaptogens were initially defined as substances that enhance the “state of non-specific resistance” in stress; a physiological condition that is linked with various disorders of the neuroendocrine-immune system. Researchers have found that adaptogens work on a molecular level by regulating a stable balance between the hypothalamic, pituitary, and adrenal glands, which are involved in stress response. Adaptogens such as Siberian ginseng, essentially work by “hacking” the stress response in your body. There are three stages of stress, 

  1. Alarm Phase
  2. Phase Of Resistance
  3. Phase Of Exhaustion

The alarm phase sends out chemical messengers and signals to help you deal with whatever stressor your body is currently facing. As you begin to experience fatigue, you enter into the exhaustion phase. Adaptogens essentially stretch out the middle, the phase of resistance, helping you achieve more and adapt before hitting exhaustion; increasing mental work capacity, enhancing attentiveness, and preventing stress and fatigue.

A review published in Economic and Medicinal Plant Research investigated the effects of Siberian ginseng in stressful situations measuring stress response in 35 clinical trials with over 6,000 subjects.

Studies were conducted in normal and stressful conditions (e.g., high temperature environment, forced work periods, loud noise conditions, motion sickness, varying degrees of deafness, heavy physical burden, hypertension, mountain rescuers under forced conditions, athletes, deep sea divers, intense mental work and physical work, factory workers under extreme working condition). The review concluded that there was an improvement in physical and mental work capacities in all cases [R].

Siberian Ginseng Dosage

Dosages may vary, dependent upon pharmacological use and therapeautic benefit. Clinical trials use doses between 300mg – 4g with the most common dose around 1g per day.   

Siberian Ginseng Side Effects

Research has established that Siberian ginseng is safe to take, however it is recognized as a stimulant and can cause wakefulness, nervousness, upset stomach, and headache. Prior to adding any new supplement to your diet, discuss with your physician or healthcare provider.

Siberian Ginseng: Takeaway

Siberian ginseng along with many other adaptogens, have shown to produce positive benefits, helping adapt your body to stress, improving physical and mental capacity. Most sources suggest a limited amount of research, yet the body of evidence is quite massive, suggesting that Siberian ginseng, is a powerful adaptogenic herb, with proven anxiolytic effects.


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References

Hartz AJ, Bentler S, Noyes R, Hoehns J, Logemann C, Sinift S, Butani Y, Wang W, Brake K, Ernst M, Kautzman H. Randomized controlled trial of Siberian ginseng for chronic fatigue. Psychol Med. 2004 Jan;34(1):51-61. doi: 10.1017/s0033291703008791. PMID: 14971626.

Bocharov EV, Kucherianu VG, Bocharova OA, Karpova RV. [Neuroprotective features of phytoadaptogens]. Vestn Ross Akad Med Nauk. 2008;(4):47-50. Russian. PMID: 18488457.

Farnsworth N., Kinghorn A.D., Soejarto D.D., Waller D.P. Siberian Ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus): Current status as an adaptogen. In: Wagner H., Hikino H., Farnsworth N.R., editors. Economic and Medicinal Plant Research. Volume 1. Academic Press; London, UK: 1985. pp. 156–209. [Google Scholar] [Ref list]

Panossian A, Wikman G. Evidence-based efficacy of adaptogens in fatigue, and molecular mechanisms related to their stress-protective activity. Curr Clin Pharmacol. 2009 Sep;4(3):198-219. doi: 10.2174/157488409789375311. Epub 2009 Sep 1. PMID: 19500070

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