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N ote: T he res ourc es lis ted in this guide arenot intended to be fully s ys tematic or
Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus), also know n as eleuthero,
c omplete, nor does inc lus ion here imply anyendors ement or rec ommendation by T he
has been used for centuries in Eastern countries, including China and
U nivers ity of M aryland or the C enter for
Russia. Despite its name, it is completely different from American (Panax
I ntegrative M edic ine. T he U nivers ity of
quinquefolius) and Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng), and has different active
M aryland and the C enter for I ntegrativeM edic ine make no warranties , expres s or
chemical components. The active ingredients in Siberian ginseng, called
implied, about the value or utility for any
eleutherosides, are thought to stimulate the immune system.
purpos e of the information and res ourc esc ontained herein.
Traditionally used to prevent colds and flu and to increase energy,longevity, and vitality, Siberian ginseng is w idely used in Russia as an
"adaptogen." An adaptogen is a substance that is supposed to help thebody better cope with stress, either mental or physical.
Center for Integrative Medicine(http://www.compmed.umm.edu/)
Until recently, most scientific research on Siberian ginseng was done in
Russia. Research on Siberian ginseng has included studies on the
Some double-blind studies have found that a specific product containing Siberian ginseng and andrographis reduced the severity and length of colds,w hen taken with 72 hours of symptoms starting. Researchers don' t know whether Siberian ginseng w as responsible, or whether it was andrographis orthe combination of the tw o herbs.
One study found that people with flu w ho took the same product saw their symptoms go aw ay faster than those who took the drug amantadine, whichis used to treat some kinds of flu.
Another study found that healthy people who took Siberian ginseng for 4 w eeks had more T-cells, which may indicate strengthening of their immunesystems.
One double-blind study of 93 people with herpes simplex virus type 2, which can cause genital herpes, found that taking Siberian ginseng reduced thenumber of outbreaks. Outbreaks that did happen w ere less severe and didn' t last as long. Talk to your doctor about whether use Siberian ginseng as asupplement to prevent herpes outbreaks is right for you.
Siberian ginseng is often used to maintain or restore mental alertness. But there haven' t been enough scientific studies to know w hether it really w orks.
One preliminary study found that middle-aged volunteers w ho took Siberian ginseng improved their memory compared to those who took placebo.
Although Siberian ginseng is frequently suggested to improve physical stamina and increase muscle strength, studies have shown only mixed results.
One study found that elderly people w ho took Siberian ginseng improved mental health and social functioning after 4 weeks of therapy, compared tothose who took placebo. But after 8 weeks, the benefits decreased.
Siberian ginseng is a shrub native to the Far East that grows 3 - 10 feet high. Its leaves are attached to a main stem by long branches. Both thebranches and the stem are covered with thorns. Flow ers, yellow or violet, grow in umbrella-shaped clusters, and turn into round, black berries in latesummer. The root itself is w oody and is brow nish, wrinkled, and twisted.
Siberian ginseng supplements are made from the root. The root contains a mixture of components called eleutherosides that are thought to offer healthbenefits. Among the other ingredients are chemicals called polysaccharides, which have been found to boost the immune system and lower blood sugarlevels in animal tests.
Siberian ginseng is available as liquid extracts, solid extracts, powders, capsules, and tablets, and as dried or cut root for tea.
The quality of many herbal supplements, including Siberian ginseng, can vary widely. Tests of commercial products claiming to have Siberian ginsengfound that as many as 25% had no measurable amount of the herb at all. Plus, many w ere contaminated w ith contents not marked on the label.
Purchase Siberian ginseng and all herbal products from reputable manufacturers. Ask your pharmacist.
Siberian ginseng is not recommended for use in children.
Siberian ginseng comes in many forms and is often combined w ith other herbs and supplements in formulas for such things as fatigue and alertness. Tofind the right dose for you, talk to an experienced health care practitioner.
For chronic conditions, such as fatigue or stress, Siberian ginseng can be taken for 3 months, followed by 3 - 4 weeks off. If you want to take Siberianginseng again, you should be under the supervision of your doctor.
The use of herbs is a time-honored approach to strengthening the body and treating disease. Herbs, however, contain components that can trigger sideeffects and interact with other herbs, supplements, or medications. For these reasons, herbs should be taken w ith care, under the supervision of ahealth care provider qualified in the field of botanical medicine.
Siberian ginseng is generally considered safe w hen used as directed. However, people w ith high blood pressure, obstructive sleep apnea, narcolepsy,heart disease, mental illness such as mania or schizophrenia, w omen who are pregnant or breastfeeding, and people with autoimmune diseases such asrheumatoid arthritis or Crohn' s disease should not take Siberian ginseng.
Women w ho have a history of estrogen-sensitive cancers or uterine fibroids should ask their doctor before taking Siberian ginseng because it may actlike estrogen in the body.
High blood pressureInsomniaDrowsinessVomitingHeadacheConfusionIrregular heart rhythmNosebleed
If you are being treated w ith any of the follow ing medications, you should not use Siberian ginseng without first talking to your health care provider:
Anticoagulants (blood thinners) -- Siberian ginseng may increase the risk of bleeding, especially if you already take blood-thinners such as aspirin,w arfarin (Coumadin), or clopidogrel (Plavix).
Corticosteroids (such as prednisone) -- Siberian ginseng may interact w ith steroids.
Digoxin -- Siberian ginseng may raise blood levels of digoxin, a medication used to treat heart conditions. This can increase the risk of side effects.
Diabetes medications -- Siberian ginseng may low er blood sugar levels, raising the risk of hypoglycemia or low blood sugar.
Lithium -- Theoretically, Siberian ginseng could make it harder for the body to get rid of lithium, meaning dangerously high levels could build up.
Other medications -- Siberian ginseng may interact with medications that are processed by the liver. If you take any medications, ask your doctor beforetaking Siberian ginseng.
Drugs that suppress the immune system -- Siberian ginseng may boost the immune system and may interact w ith drugs taken to treat an autoimmunedisease or drugs taken after organ transplant.
Sedatives -- Siberian ginseng may increase the effects of sedatives, primarily barbiturates (medications, including pentobarbital, that are used to treatinsomnia or seizures).
Acanthopanax senticosus; Eleuthero; Eleutherococcus senticosus; Ginseng - Siberian
Reviewed last on: 1/27/2011Steven D. Ehrlich, NMD, Solutions Acupuncture, a private practice specializing in complementary and alternative medicine, Phoenix, AZ. Review providedby VeriMed Healthcare Network.
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