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Botanical Agents

Ginseng, Siberian (Eleutherococcus senticosus, Eleuthero)

13 years, 4 months ago

2173  0
Posted on Dec 30, 2005, 8 p.m. By Bill Freeman

GENERAL DESCRIPTION: Siberian Ginseng is native to the southeastern part of Russia, northern China, Korea, and Japan. The root and the rhizomes (underground stem) of the plant are used medicinally. It  supports the working of the adrenal glands and prevents the worst effects of nervous tension.

GENERAL DESCRIPTION:

Siberian Ginseng is native to the southeastern part of Russia, northern China, Korea, and Japan. The root and the rhizomes (underground stem) of the plant are used medicinally. It  supports the working of the adrenal glands and prevents the worst effects of nervous tension. It tends to increase energy, extend endurance, and fight fatigue. Chemists have isolated more than three-dozen compounds in Siberian ginseng that may affect the mind and body; foremost among these are the eleutherosides, which occur in the plant’s roots and, to a lesser degree, in the leaves. Studies have determined that the eleutherosides differ from the ginsenosides isolated from the panax ginsengs, though some of their effects on the body are similar, exactly how these compounds affect the body is still being determined. (The effects, in fact, may be available only from the whole herb. The isolated components of Siberian ginseng do not have the same tonic action as the whole plant.) The effects of Siberian ginseng also vary from person to person.

ROLE FOR ANTI-AGING:

Studies on Siberian ginseng have shown that it has considerable promise for increasing longevity and improving overall health. The plant may also play a role in the treatment of hypertension, blood sugar irregularities, and depression. Siberian ginseng is known to boost overall immune function and preliminary findings also suggests that it may prove valuable in the long-term management of various diseases of the immune system, including HIV infection and chronic fatigue syndrome. Healthy people who were given a daily supplement of Siberian ginseng were found to have increased numbers of T-lymphocytes. Siberian ginseng also supports the body by helping the liver detoxify harmful toxins.

Studies carried out in Russia have confirmed that ginseng can also exert a protective effect on the body during radiation exposure. Therefore, it may be of benefit to patients undergoing radiotherapy to treat cancer. The plant also helps the liver to detoxify harmful toxins. Animal studies have shown that Siberian ginseng helps to protect against ethanol, sodium barbital, and the tetanus toxoid, and chemotherapeutic agents, among others. Siberian ginseng has also been shown to enhance mental acuity and physical endurance without the side effects associated with caffeine. Research suggests that Siberian ginseng improves oxygen utilization by exercising muscle, thus it would be logical to assume that it may help to increase  endurance and speed recovery from exercise. However, research in this area has produced somewhat contradictory results. In research conducted on people of average athletic abilities, for instance, people given Siberian ginseng have shown marked improvements in endurance. However, in a recent study on experienced distance runners, researchers saw no effects on exercise performance.

THERAPEUTIC DAILY AMOUNT:

Siberian ginseng is sold in capsules, tinctures, and extracts. Standardized Siberian ginseng products often specify the content of one or more of a series of chemicals known as eleutherosides. An average dose is 100mg of an extract standardized for 1% eleutherosides. Siberian ginseng should not be used continuously for more than 6-8 weeks, with a break of 1-2 weeks between use.

MAXIMUM SAFE LEVEL: Not established

SIDE EFFECTS/CONTRAINDICATIONS:

Siberian ginseng is considered to be safe for daily consumption even in doses many times larger than average, though some people may experience insomnia and other side effects from taking high amounts. Siberian ginseng should be avoided, or taken with caution, by individuals with uncontrolled high blood pressure and those who are hysteric, manic, or  schizophrenic. It should not be taken with stimulants, including coffee, antipsychotic drugs or during treatment with hormones. People taking digoxin should consult their doctor before taking Siberian ginseng.

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