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Herb Information
Name: Eleuthero
Biological Name: Eleutherococcus senticosus, Acanthopanox senticosus


Other Names: Siberian ginseng, ci wu ju, Eleuthero, touch-me-not, devil's shrub
Parts Used: Root and rhizomes
Active Compounds:  

The constituents in eleuthero that have received the most attention are the eleutherosides. Seven primary eleutherosides have been identified, with most of the research attention focusing on eleutherosides B and E. Eleuthero also contains complex polysaccharides (a kind of sugar molecule). These constituents play a critical role in eleuthero's ability to support immune function.

As an adaptogen, eleuthero helps the body adapt to stress. It does this by encouraging normal functioning of the adrenal glands, allowing them to function optimally when challenged by stress. 

Eleuthero has been shown to enhance mental acuity and physical endurance without the letdown that comes with caffeinated products.

Research has shown that eleuthero improves the use of oxygen by the exercising muscle. This means that a person is able to maintain aerobic exercise longer and recovery from workouts is much quicker.

Another way that eleuthero reduces stress on the body is to combat harmful toxins. Eleuthero has shown a protective effect in animal studies against chemicals such as ethanol, sodium barbital, tetanus toxoid, and chemotherapeutic agents. 

Eleuthero also reduces the side effects of radiation exposure. 

Evidence is also mounting that eleuthero enhances and supports the immune response. Eleuthero may be useful as a preventive measure during cold and flu season. 

Recent evidence also suggests that eleuthero may prove valuable in the long-term management of various diseases of the immune system, including HIV infection, chronic fatigue syndrome, and autoimmune illnesses such as lupus.


Although not as popular as Asian ginseng, eleuthero use dates back 2,000 years, according to Chinese medicine records. Referred to as ci wu ju in Chinese medicine, it was used to prevent respiratory tract infections as well as colds and flu. It was also believed to provide energy and vitality. In Russia, eleuthero was originally used by people in the Siberian Taiga region to increase performance and quality of life and to decrease infections.

In more modern times, eleuthero's ability to increase stamina and endurance led Soviet Olympic athletes to use it to enhance their training. Explorers, divers, sailors, and miners used eleuthero to prevent stress-related illness. After the Chernobyl accident, many Russian citizens were given eleuthero to counteract the effects of radiation.

Siberian ginseng had been used traditionally as an immune-enhancing agent. It was also employed as an anti-inflammatory, in cardiovascular disease, to restore concentration, memory, and cognition, and as a remedy for stress, depression, fatigue, or complete nervous breakdown.

Remedies For

Useful for:

Alzheimer's disease
Athletic performance
Attention deficit disorder
Chemotherapy support
Chronic fatigue syndrome
Common cold/sore throat
Influenza (flu)
Stress and fatigue

Siberian ginseng is highly valued as an adaptogen, a substance that normalizes adverse conditions of the body. It is also used as a stimulant. Russians prescribe it for patients undergoing chemotherapy and radiation therapy due to its anti-radiation effect.

Modern studies conducted by Russian scientists show that Siberian ginseng relieves stress, lowers toxicity of some common drugs that tend to produce side effects in humans, increase mental alertness, improve resistance to colds and mild infections, and be beneficial in cases where a person is continuously in contact with environmental stresses.

Siberian ginseng extract was shown to stimulate cellular immunity. It was found to stimulate T-cell production, especially helper cells. Thus Siberian ginseng is touted for numerous immune-related disorders. German scientists have found that this herb may be useful for treatment in the early stages of AIDS. It is found to retard the spread of the virus by a synergistic action of the elevated numbers of both helper and cytotoxic T cells.


Eleuthero is a distant relative of Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng). Also known commonly as touch-me-not and devil's shrub, eleuthero has been most frequently nicknamed Siberian ginseng in this country.

Eleuthero is native to the Taiga region of the Far East (south-eastern part of Russia, northern China, Korea, and Japan). The root and the rhizomes (underground stem) are used.


Dried, powdered root and rhizomes of 2- 3 grams per day can be used. Concentrated solid extract standardized on eleutherosides B and E, 300-400 mg per day, can also be used, as can alcohol-based extracts, 8-10 ml in two to three divided dosages. Historically, eleuthero is taken continuously for six to eight weeks, followed by a one- to two-week break before resuming.


Reported side effects have been minimal with use of eleuthero. 

Mild, transient diarrhea has been reported in a very small number of users. Eleuthero may cause insomnia in some people if taken too close to bed-time. 

Eleuthero is not recommended for individuals with uncontrolled high blood pressure. It can be used during pregnancy or lactation. However, pregnant or lactating women using eleuthero should avoid products that have been adulterated with Panax ginseng or other related species that are contraindicated.

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