Ginseng, Siberian

Eleutherococcus senticosus

Origin - China, Russia (eastern Siberia), Manchuria, Korea

Part of the plant used - Rhizome (underground creeping stem) and roots

Edible Parts Siberian ginseng is a tall wild deciduous shrub with many stalks and a woody root (not the typical fleshy rootstocks of the other ginsengs). The root has been used for 2,000 years in China as a general preventative medicine and tonic. During this century, Siberian ginseng has been extensively studied by Russian scientists. Numerous clinical trials have established that E. senticosus acts as an adaptogen and helps human beings handle stressful conditions and excel in athletic and mental endeavors.

Pharmacology - The eleutherosides have been shown to be responsible for the adaptogenic properties of the plant. The eleutherosides are a range of glycosides with aromatic alcohol aglycones. (Ginsenosides have triterpenoid aglycones.) The glycosides appear to act on the adrenal glands, helping to prevent adrenal hypertrophy and excess corticosteroid production in response to stress. The eleutherosides additionally help reduce the exhaustion phase of the stress response and return the adrenal to normal function faster.

Medicinal Uses - Siberian ginseng is used by deep sea divers, long-distance drivers, mountain rescue workers, factory workers, athletes, submariners and cosmonauts. After nearly a thousand studies, Siberian ginseng has been shown to increase energy and stamina and to help the body resist viral infections, environmental toxins, radiation, and chemotherapy. In Chinese medicine, E. senticosus has been used to prevent bronchial and other respiratory infections as well as viral infections. The Chinese used the root also to provide energy and vitality, to increase resistance, and to treat rheumatic diseases and heart ailments. Siberian ginseng has been used in cardiovascular and neurovascular conditions to help restore memory, concentration, and cognitive abilities which may be impaired from poor blood supply to the brain. Additionally, Siberian ginseng is a popular herbal remedy for debility, depression, fatigue, and nervous breakdowns.

Historical Uses:

Contra-indications - No toxicity or side effects reported. Should not be taken with a high fever (above 39 C or 102 F) or at a very high blood pressure (WHO stage 2). Individuals with diabetes should avoid using large amounts of eleuthero because it can lower blood sugar levels, potentially resulting in hypoglycemia (blood sugar that is too low). Indications of low blood sugar include shakiness, sweating, confusion, distorted speech, and loss of muscle control. If not corrected, low blood sugar can lead to unconsciousness and even death. Individuals with heart disease who take eleuthero may experience a rapid heartbeat or high blood pressure. Long-term use (more than 2 months) of eleuthero has been associated with muscle spasms due to nerve inflammation. Therefore, taking eleuthero continuously for more than 2 months is not recommended. In studies involving humans, the most commonly reported side effects from eleuthero were anxiety, Breast pain, drowsiness, and headache!


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