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Common Name: Siberian Ginseng | Scientific Name: Eleutherococcus Senticosus

Family Name: Araliaceae


Fact Sheet 1
Fact Sheet 2
Fact Sheet 3
Chapter from My PhD Thesis

Fact Sheet 1

Part Used: bark

Remember This: stamina plant

Reasonable Uses: exhaustion, fatigue, lack of endurance, easily fatigued, debility, to speed recovery from illness, depression, poor concentration,

History and Traditional uses

There are several hundred members of the ginseng family, many used in medicine. Siberian was first discovered in 1955 when two scientists traveled from St Petersburg to the Ussuri region of Russia. The plant was designated the genus name of eleuthero , meaning “free-berried shrub”, and the species name of senticosus , which means thorny. Siberian ginseng was not used in traditional Russian medicine but rather was the discovery of two Russian scientists. Brekham and Dardymov were studying vitality strengthening herbs and in the process discovered this unused member of the ginseng family. The record-breaking performances of Russian athletes have been attributed by some to their use of Siberian ginseng. It was said to raise the fatigue threshold and enable athletes to undergo more vigorous training schedules than would otherwise be possible.

Scientific Back Up
The active constituents of Siberian ginseng are a group of compounds called eleutherosides. There are 13 specific eleutherosides designated by the letters A to M. found in the bark of the plant. Research starting in the 1960′s indicated that the plant increased the body’s resistance to stress and increased general vitality. The term adaptogen was coined in 1958 to describe a substance which increased non-specific resistance of an organism to adverse influences such as infection and stress. Siberian ginseng was one of the first substances described to be adaptogenic or increasing the body’s ability to cope with stress. A classic example of Siberian ginseng use comes from Russia. It was used by the cosmonauts to help their bodies adapt to the lunar environment.

Herbalists Use It To…
Help students blast through exams
Exam time is notoriously tiring for students. Too much to study and not enough time to do it in. These periods are often followed by great exhaustion and opportunistic infections(coughs, colds, etc.). Herbalists recommend students, and especially mature students, use Siberian ginseng during exam time to keep their energy up and to prevent illness following exams.

Help travelers jet through jet lag
More and more people are traveling internationally for pleasure and profession. Many find the time changes and loss of days hard physically and emotionally. Herbally savvy travelers use Siberian ginseng to help them hop of the plan and hit the ground running. It increases immune function, a handy feature. Many travelers are tired and worn down, the wrong combination when getting on a plane with 500 bacteria spewing fellow passengers.

Speed Recovery
Taking time to heal is time well spent! The better you take care of yourself the less likely you are to experience a relapse, regardless of what health crisis you have faced. Siberian Ginseng is a strengthening tonic plant, giving your body a blast of vitality just when it needs it most. Patients find their energy comes back more rapidly and a general sense well being appears sooner than one might imagine when this tonic plant is used.

Fortify those suffering from stress
What could be more stressful than a trip to the moon? Perhaps a trip to the shopping mall to get obligatory Saturday errands run. Siberian ginseng has been found to help the body deal with stressful living. Stress undermines health unless pro-active measures are taken. Sleeping right, eating right, and the use of endurance plants like Siberian ginseng is the prescription of most herbalists.

Give woman added stamina
A lot of woman looking for a power herb end up using Chinese or Korean ginseng. This is questionable because traditional Chinese medicine says it can derange menstrual cycles and worsen symptoms of menopause. Contemporary herbalists say the same but add that women looking for vitality plant should think about Siberian ginseng. It does not seem to affect the female hormones the way its cousin does!

Shopping Tips
Siberian ginseng is one of the less expensive ginseng family members! So, the prices tend to be quite reasonable. Avoid products containing other herbs.

Astragalus(Astragalus membranaceous)
Chinese ginseng(Panax ginseng)

Fact Sheet 2

In a Word: Vitality Supplement Plant

Uses: Fatigue, poor energy levels, lack of stamina, exhaustion from long endured stress

There are thirty or so related species of deciduous, often prickly, shrubs and trees belong to this genus. The plants occur in southern and eastern Asia and are a common part of that landscape. E. senticosus, Siberian ginseng, is from north-eastern Asia. The plant is fully hardy but is seldom seen in Western herb gardens. Oddly, it does not appear in traditional Russian medicine, but was researched by the Russian scientists Brekham and Dardymov from 1960. They were studying adaptogenic herbs and in their research happened unto this underused member of the ginseng family. Since then it has been widely publicised and marketed as a ginseng.

The name ‘ginseng’ is really a general term applied to various preparations from the roots of plants belonging to the family Araliaceae (ivy family). The plant was first discovered in 1955 when the two scientists travelled from St Petersburg to the Ussuri region of Russia. The plant was designated the genus name of eleuthero , meaning “free-berried shrub”, and the species name of senticosus , which means thorny in Latin.

The main active constituents of Siberian ginseng are a group of compounds called eleutherosides. There are 13 specific eleutherosides designated by the letters A to M. Siberian ginseng should be used primarily as a prophylactic agent (a preventative treatment) rather than as a remedial preparation. The record-breaking performances of Russian athletes have been attributed by some to the use of Siberian ginseng to raise the fatigue threshold and thereby enable athletes to undergo more vigorous training schedules than would otherwise be possible.

The key use of Siberian ginseng is as an adaptogenic since it increases the body’s resistance to stress and builds up general vitality. The term adaptogen was first coined in 1958 to describe the action of a substance which increased non-specific resistance to an organism to adverse influences such as infection and stress. The therapeutic use of Siberian ginseng include Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), resistance to both mental and physical stress, combating fatigue and stimulant and regulating the immune system.

Perhaps the most popular use of Siberian ginseng is in the alleviation of symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). This often debilitating illness is characterised not only by fatigue but alongside other symptoms such as frequent sore throats, musculoskeletal pain and low grade fever. Sufferers also commonly experience depression.

Siberian ginseng is best given as a standardised extract of the dried root containing 1% eleutheroside E and taken three times a day. Exhaustion should begin to subside within one month. No side effects were observed in Russian studies. Though a recently discovered plant, Siberian ginseng has been well studied and the reports are that if fatigue is a problem, Siberian ginseng may be the answer.

Practitioners’ Advice
Siberian ginseng and its vitality stimulating constituents have a wide field of use. It can be used when a person is recovering from an illness to get the healing process moving on along. It can be used by those who are going through a bad patch and need a little support getting through the troubled water. It can be used by people laid low by chronic illness, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Post Viral Syndrome, and HIV/and Aids as examples. Like all of the ginseng family members, this is vitality in a capsule or a tincture bottle. If you need a dose of vitality, you know who you are!

History: A traditional treatment for exhaustion and debility
Science: Contains steroids that increase stamina and endurance
Practitioners’ opinion: Excellent for exhaustion following illness

Fact Sheet 3

Japanese name: Ukogi

Scientific name: Acanthopanax senticosus

Part Used: Root cortex and leaf

Principal Use: Loss of vitality, fatigue, exhaustion

Principal Action: Adaptogen and tonic

History and Traditional Uses of Ukogi
Ukogi is native to Japan, and grows wild in the mountains, fields, and riverside thickets. It is a deciduous shrub with thorny stems and branches reaching four meters in height. There are male and female trees, each bearing unisex flowers which appear in August. A close relative of notorious Panax ginseng, it is seen as a less expensive substitute for its revered relation.

The traditional uses for Ukogi include bronchitis, heart ailments, rheumatism, lumbago, headache, weak heart, abdominal pain, paresis, neuralgia, insomnia, menopausal problems and impotence. It is used to promote bone and muscle growth and strength, to restore vigor, memory, appetite, and to increase longevity. It is seen as being a stimulant to health, gently improving well-being.

In country places where the thorny shrub grows wild, local people use virtually every part of the plant. Country people pick the young shoots and leaves in spring as a tasty seasonal treat. The mature leaves are picked , dried, and used to make a healthy tea. The fresh root bark is soaked in clear liquor to make a vitality boosting cordial. Roots are dug in winter and dried in the sun to be used in health stimulating medicine. There are two different varieties; one with five leaflets and the other with three leaflets. Country people do not distinguish the two varieties and use them interchangeably.

When the Chinese Buddhist monks made their way to Japan, they came bearing more than the word of Buddha. They brought knowledge of Ukogi. In Mainland China, it had been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for a long time when the monks came to Japan. In China, Ukogi is mentioned as health stimulating tonic used to treat debility, or being run down. It appears in the oldest Chinese herbal, “ Shinnou honzoukyou ” or Divine Husbandman ‘ s Classic of the Materia Medica. The text was written by the Divine Husbandman one thousand five hundred years ago! Another Chinese medicine classic, “ Meiibetsuroku ” , written in 500AD, mentions it as both a male and female aphrodisiac. In yet another Chinese classic herbal, “ Honsoukoumoku ”( 1590AD) tells a rather telling tale. The book states that men who drank Ukogi liquor found themselves unable to get out of bed due to an insatiable appetite for sex. The same amorous gentlemen were said to live for three hundred years. Lurking in legend, many a truth can be found, as is the case with Ukogi.

In ancient China, the variety of Ukogi with five leaflets was especially favored (The number five was regarded as propitious). It was so popular amongst the ancient Chinese, an ode to Ukogi proclaiming its virtues was written in ancient times.

It would be fair to say that since the beginning of time Ukogi has been seen as an esteemed tonic and aphrodisiac in both China and Japan!

The Science of Ukogi
Ukogi has been used for hundreds of years to increase wellness, vitality, and vigor. Like all members of the Ginseng family, Ukogi is rich in a complex combination of chemical compounds. Research reveals these compounds, in a synergistic manner, do exactly what the ancients said the plant could do. They keep people well. The list of compounds it contains includes:
Phenylpropanoids ( 4-methoxysaalicylaldehyde )
Acids ( palmitic acid, linolenic acid)
Glucosides (β-sitosterol, acanthosides, l-savinin. L-sesanien. Syringaresinol)
Essential oils (echinopanacene, echinopanacol)
Saponins (eleutherosides)

In clinical research, these compounds and indeed the crude drug, have been shown to stimulate several body functions essential to life.

Crude Drug Studies
• The herb has been found to increase adrenal capacity in stressed animals. Fight or flight is improved.
• Animals fed the root bark of Acanthopanax senticosus were able to swim significantly longer than controls; live longer than controls exposed to radiation, either acutely or chronically; live longer than controls exposed to the very toxic carbon tetrachloride; and have decreased rates of spontaneous cancers.
• In animals with high blood sugar either from food intake or cortisone ingestion, the herb lowered plasma blood sugar levels. In animals with low blood sugar from disorders of the islets of Langerhorn, the herb raised blood sugar levels. The implication being that the herb has a regulatory effect on blood sugar levels!
• This herb exerts a tranquilizing effect on central nerve system.
• Ukogi caused a 90% improvement in neurasthenia, a 60-90% improvement of high blood pressure, a 75% improvement in high cholesterol, a 65% improvement in impotence, and a 93% improvement in hypoxia in human subjects. It also increased the life expectancy of stomach cancer patients by 1-4 years.
• Human research conducted between 1972-1974 showed that the roots were effective against bronchitis and heart disease, and had no side effects.

Constituent Studies
• Soviet scientists have reported a doubling of survival time amongst rats treated with Acanthopanacis senticosus when exposed to radiation. 7000 rats were used in the study.
• Saponins from this herb have been shown to be highly pharmacologically active with noted effects on sexual arousal and performance, energy metabolism, cardiovascular performance, and cellular synthesis in the liver, testes and bone marrow. They have been shown to have a protective effect against myocardial infarction, to have a stimulating effect on the ACTH-cortisol system and to lower blood pressure and blood sugar levels. Indeed, when given to oxygen deprived animals, the saponins increased survival time.
• Polysaccharides have been shown to act as immunostimulants.
All done and said, science has revealed Ukogi to be the strengthening tonic traditional medicine tells us it is. It works on many, many levels to improve health and vitality. And, most importantly, it has been shown to be entirely non-toxic and safe to use long term.

Practitioners Opinion
Practitioners throughout Japan have found that both the root and the leaf of this plant can be used to increase general health and to raise vitality and vigour. In cases of exhaustion, debility, constant infections, and chronic fatigue there could be no better herb. It can be used as an aphrodisiac, but, more importantly, to address the lack of vitality which often lies at the root of poor sex drive and poor sexual performance.

• James Duke, Medicinal Plants of China, Reference Publications, p119, 1985
• Kee Chang Huag, The Pharmacology of Chinese Herbs, p45-47, 1999
• Kazuo Izawa, Color Encyclopedia of Medicinal Herbs, Shufunotomo-sha, p479, 1998
• Masao Kobayashi, Japanese Medicinal Plants, Noubunkyou, p25-29, 1987
• Kun-Ying Yen, The Illustrated Chinese Materia Medica, SMC Publishing INC., p1, 1992
• Dan Bensky and Andrew Gamble, Chinese Herbal Medicine Materia Medica, Eastland Press, p235, 1986

Chapter from my PhD Thesis

Part Used: Root bark

Chemical Constituents: Significant phytochemicals include eleutheroside A-M, glycans (eleutherans), polysacharides-pes-a, polysacharides-pes-b, resin, saponins, and senticoside E-F. (4)

Eleutherococcus senticosus (ES) is a thorny shrub found growing in Far Eastern Russia, North-eastern China , Korea , and Japan . Though the dominant species in this range is ES, there are 15 known species growing between the Himalayas and Japan . The drug is used as a tonic throughout Asia . For example, the Japanese use it to boost general vitality.

The drug came to the attention of the rest of the world through Russian work with and use of the drug. Porphyrri Kirilov, while acting as the physician at the Russian Ecclesiastical mission to Peking (1830–1841), noticed ES. A plant collector as well as a medical man, Kirilov was impressed with the drug and brought samples back to central Russia when his post in China concluded. The drug lingered in medical circles in Russia until the middle of the 20 th century. (5)

In the 1950′s II Brekhman screened the Araliaceae family of plants for adaptogens and identified ES as an adaptogen. Brekhman, who worked in Siberia , focused much of his early studies on it. Thus ES became known as “Siberian ginseng.” Brekhman’s findings were compelling enough to intrigue other researchers and, over time, it has become a well-researched adaptogen.

The Adaptogen Criterion: Brekhman’s Research
Brekhman observed ES was very low in toxicity. His research revealed that doses of ES, large enough to increase non-specific resistance, did not cause significant disorders in normal function of the organism. (1–2) ES, then, satisfied his first criteria of an adaptogen.

To fit his second criteria, ES had to increase resistance to a variety of physical, chemical, and biological stressors. In Brekhman’s terms, the adaptogen had to offer universal defence. To test ES, he conducted the following experiments.

Using his animal model to test the effects of ES, Brekhman noted that following exposure to stress, the organs of the animals treated with the crude drug and isolated saponins did not show the usual signs of stress seen in the control animals. The drugs inhibited a major change in the weight of the adrenals, thymus, spleen, and thyroid demonstrated in the control animals. As well, shifts in blood chemistry and metabolism were distinctly modified. In other words, the pathological changes usually associated with stress did not occur. (1-2)

Some saponins isolated from ES had a stronger anti-stress effect than others. Eleutheroside E had the strongest action, Eleutheroside B1 had a weak anti-alarm activity, and Eleutheroside C had no anti-alarm action at all. (1–2)

Brekhman looked to see if ES and its saponins prolonged the time to physical collapse in the animal model. The question was would the drug increase resistance to fatigue? Rats treated with ES, in comparison to controls, were able to swim 52 minutes longer, an increase in swimming time of 9.2%. Moreover, they did not manifest the usual pathological consequences of stress (adrenal exhaustion, gastric ulceration, thymico-involution, etc.). In other tests, Brekhman found that time to complete exhaustion, when the test animal would drop to the electrified floor, was increased with the use of ES and its isolated saponins. Again, Brekhman found that some ES saponins had a stronger anti-fatigue effect than other saponins. (1–2)

ES was also found to have a radio-protective action in single x-ray irradiation. In prolonged irradiation, ES doubled the lifetime of rats and improved the state of their blood and other indices. Brekhman’s research revealed that ES, used in combination with antibiotics, increased the life span of irradiated animals three fold. (1–2)

Alloxan Induced Diabetes
ES reduced weight loss, reduced urine blood sugar levels, and prolonged life span of rats with alloxan induced diabetes. (1–2)

Tumorgenesis/Carcinogenes is/Metastasis
ES reduced chemically induced tumours, inhibited urethane induced adenoma, 6-methylthiouracil induced thyroid tumours, and indole induced myeloid leukaemia. ES also reduced spontaneous tumours, especially spontaneous mammary gland tumours and spontaneous leukaemia. In addition, ES caused a reduction of transplants of Ehrlich, lymphosarcoma, and other transplanted tumours. It also caused a substantial inhibition of metastasis. Lastly, ES showed a radio protective and anti-toxic action towards anticancer drugs and radiotherapy. (1–2)

ES was determined to have an anti-narcotic action in Brekhman’s studies. It showed activation on the EEG and diminished the depressed states caused by chloral hydrate, medinal, and aminasin. It also inhibited the activity of the drugs on the inner cortex. (1–2)

In acute hypertension, a mild hypotensive activity was noted for ES. (1–2)

Anabolic activity
ES exhibited three actions that indicated anabolic activity; it increased body weight, sped albumen replacement after a massive bleed, and increased immune cell production. However, unlike anabolic steroids which had an across the board effect, this anabolic activity was manifested only when it was required. In addition, ES had no virilizing effect. (1–2)

Physical and mental strain
In Brekhman’s studies ES was found to alter anatomic and biochemical manifestations of the Alarm Reaction phase of the GAS including a reduction of activation of the adrenal cortices, thymicolymphatic involution, and bleeding ulceration of the stomach. Under physical strain, ES contributed to a sparing use of carbohydrates and enhanced glycogen and high-energy phosphorus compound use. (1–2)

Efficiency is an integral and very sensitive index of the general state of the organism. His research showed that ES caused an increase of physical and mental efficiency after a single dose (stimulant) or a prolonged dosing (tonic). Stimulant doses differed from Benzedrine like compounds in that ES was devoid of pronounced excitant action and did not alter the ability of the organism to fall asleep or stay asleep. The saponins of ES were determined to be more active at increasing physical and mental efficiency than the crude drug. (1–2)

Normalising effect of ES
To fit his third criteria, ES had to possess normalising action irrespective of the direction of the pathological changes. Brekhman observed ES had this capability. Specifically, ES was found to impede hypertrophy (ACTH induced) and atrophy (Cortisone induced) of the adrenal glands. (1–2) It also impeded hypertrophy (thyreoidin induced) and atrophy (6-methylthiouracil induced) of the thyroid gland. (1–2) Further, ES reduced sugar levels in alimentary (glucose) and adrenal hyperglycaemia and it decreased hypoglycaemia induced by insulin. (1–2) In addition, ES normalised leukocytosis induced by the parenteral administration of milk and neutropenia induced by the endotoxin of dysenteric microbe. Lastly, ES normalised erythrocytosis caused by cobaltous nitrate and erythropenia caused by phenylhydrazine. (1–2)

ES at the Cellular Level
Brekhman presented data that adaptogens worked on a cellular level, specifically acting as anti-oxidants and affecting the biosynthesis of protein and nucleic acid. (1–2) His researched revealed that ES exerted a protective action in the case of irradiation of diploid yeast. It also had a marked protective effect when erythrocytes were subject to artificial radiomimetic substances (i.e. oxidised oleic acid). Substances in ES possessed the same anti-radical and anti-oxidant activity. Prophylactic and medicinal effects were obtained in pathological states (stress, irradiation, cancer) in which free radical caused disturbance played a role.

Brekhman noted that ES did more than protect cells from damage. ES also had the capacity to switch cells on. The anabolic action of ES is an example of this ability; the stimulation of immune cell production and activity indicated the processes of biosynthesis of protein and nucleic acid.

Additional Findings
While Brekhman was working, a peculiar fact came to the surface. Namely, the effect of ES only became apparent when the resistance of the organism diminished or the organism was taxed with extra demands. In a normal organism or an organism not experiencing over taxation, ES had no effect. (1–2) Contemporary studies involving normal unstressed individuals have also demonstrated that ES does not cause physiological variations in unstressed populations. (20, 21)

Organisms have an in built ability to resist destructive forces, be they chemical, biological, or physical. The Alarm Reaction phase of the GAS, largely mediated by the adrenal glands, is a physical manifestation of this inherent resistive force. Brekhman concluded that the “State of Non-specifically Increased Resistance ,” or SNIR, caused by ES was more than the general adaptation reaction. The SNIR, in contrast to the AR, was always beneficial to the organism, might last comparatively long, and was not accompanied by the usual pathological changes seen in the AR. Indeed, Brekhman demonstrated that ES created a superior State of Resistance to that which an organism would have naturally.

The Adaptogen Criterion 1960–1980
Norman Farnsworth and a team of researchers at the Program for Collaborative Research in the Pharmaceutical Sciences, College of Pharmacy , University of Illinois , undertook a comprehensive survey of Eleutherococcus senticosus literature between 1960 and 1980. The result was the paper entitled “Siberian Ginseng: Current Status as an Adaptogen.” (3) The paper examined 220 ES studies and summarised the work found therein. Most of the studies were done in foreign language. The findings that follow, presented by Farnsworth and his team, support Brekhman’s conclusions about ES.

ES conformed to the first adaptogen criteria in numerous studies where it was observed that there is virtually no lethal dose of ES. Even at high doses, no teratogenic effects were described in a variety of pregnant animals. Moreover, in studies involving 6000 humans, no toxicity was reported. (3)

Animal Studies
A collection of studies revealed that ES displayed an anti-toxic effect, acted as an anti-narcotic, displayed an anti-infection effect via immune stimulation, increased tolerance to hypothermia, increased work capacity, reduced radiation damage, decreased physiological damage caused by stress, helped the body respond to massive bleeds, and improved adrenal function thereby countering fatigue. (3) In other words, ES displayed the second criteria of an adaptogen, namely it increased resistance to a wide range of stressors.

Animal research demonstrated that many of these effects are also found in ES saponins. For example, Eleutherosides A, C, D, E, and F increased the time to complete exhaustion in exhaustion models. Eleutheroside B showed an anti-stress effect and Eleutheroside B1 showed an anti-alarm effect. Polysaccharides PES-A and PES-B heightened immune response. (3)

Eighteen animal studies demonstrated that ES played a role in cancer by reducing tumour take and metastasis in chemically induced and spontaneous tumours. (3) The “citrovorum factor” is used to decrease the toxicity of methotrexate in cancer therapies and there is evidence that ES has a similar effect. Furthermore, ES reduced the toxicity and increased anti-tumour effects of rubromicin C, Thio-tepa, Dopan, 6-mercaptopurine, cyclophosphan, ethymidine, benzo-TEPA, and sarcolysin. (3)

ES was found to normalise a collection of physiological abnormalities and thus fit the third criteria of an adaptogen. Numerous studies demonstrated it normalised blood sugar levels, reduced liver and adrenal cholesterol synthesis, lessened brain ischemia, countered CNS depression, increased conditioned response to stimuli, countered endocrine depression/activation of the endocrine system, countered adrenal failure/reduced inflammation in adrenalectomized animals, and countered liver disease/induced liver cell regeneration.

In addition, researchers demonstrated that certain active constituents of ES also have a normalising effect. Eleutheroside B showed an androgenic effect, increasing RNA content of seminal vesicles and prostate of treated animals. Eleutheroside B1 also increased RNA in seminal vesicles and prostate of treated animals. Isofraxidin displayed choleretic effect. (3)

Human studies
ES was administered to over 2100 human subjects having no pathologies in 44 studies. In these studies, it was determined to increase human’s ability to withstand stressors such as heat, noise, motion, work load increase, exercise, and decompression. It was found to improve auditory disturbances, mental acuity, work output, and quality of work under stressed conditions. ES increased athletic performance by raising resistance to fatigue. In one study of 1000 factory workers living in the polar region and taking ES, there was a 40% reduction in lost days and sick days were reduced by 50%. (3) In other words, ES raised resistance in general.

2200 male and female subjects, ranging from 19 to 60 years of age, with various aliments were given ES. Across a wide range of pathology (atherosclerosis, hypo-tension, hyperglycaemia, rheumatic heart disease, neurasthenia, etc.), ES was shown to correct pathological process and display a normalising effect, regardless of the direction of pathological changes. (3) Once again, ES demonstrated adaptogenic capacity as defined by Brekhman’s criterion.

Adaptogen Criterion: 1980–2003

After 1980, ES research began to take place outside of Russia and Asia . It would appear that there was enough evidence coming out of Russia and various Asian countries to intrigue western researchers. This third wave of research also has resulted in ongoing validation of Brekhman’s earlier findings. Namely:
• In various studies investigating ES, no side effects have been reported. (4–21)
• ES increases immuno-globulin levels in mice before and during illness. (6)
• ES exhibits an anti-fatigue, anti-stress, and immunity enhancing effect. (9)
• ES acts as an immune modulator in activated whole blood cultures of ten healthy volunteers. (12)
• ES increased interleukin 1 and interleukin 6 production in vitro using mononuclear phagocytes extracted from rat bone marrow. (13)
• ES increased in vitro phagocytosis of Candida albicans by granulocytes and monocytes of healthy human donors by 45% (15)
• Polysaccharide fractions extracted from ES with molecular weights of between 25,000 and 500,000 showed significant immunity stimulating activities according to granulocytes and carbon clearance tests. (19)
• In a human study, ES drastically increased the absolute number of immune competent cells, with an especially pronounced increase in T lymphocytes, primarily of the helper/inducer type. There was also an increase in cytotoxic and natural killer cells and an enhancement of the Activation State of lymphocytes. (17)
• ES inhibited RNA viruses. The productive replication of human rhinovirus (HRV), respiratory synctial virus (RSV), and influenza A virus in cell cultures infected with these viruses was inhibited. (10)
• ES inhibits catechol-O-methyl transferase that degrades stress hormones. The implication being that ES acts as an anti-stress drug, in part, by maintaining stress hormone levels. Researchers conclude that the increase in energy experienced when ES is administered may be due to enhancement of stress hormones. This in turn causes liberation of energy reserves. (11)
• In a study looking at physical fitness in 50 healthy human subjects, ES demonstrated a positive effect in cellular defence, physical fitness, and lipid metabolism. (14)
• The administration of ES in conjunction with transplacental administration of N-nitrosoethylurea resulted in a longer survival time of rats and a lower occurrence and or multiplicity of tumours (mainly nervous system). (16)
• ES inhibited mast cell mediated anaphylaxis in vivo and in vitro murine model. (7)
• ES exhibited activity on the Central Nervous System and had an antidepressant effect. (9)
• ES was found to remarkably reduce blood sugar levels in normal and alloxan induced diabetic mice. (18)


Clearly, Eleutherococcus senticosus fulfils Brekhman’s adaptogen criterion. Subsequent researchers have demonstrated that this is the case. Indeed, there is substantial evidence to support its use in raising resistance to stressors. In addition, it may be useful in two specific instances.

ES and viVal Disease
Numerous studies dating from 1960 to present indicate ES may have a role in raising resistance to viral infection. The drug has been shown to increase immune cell counts (17), increase immune cell production of immune products (immuno-globulin, interleukin, etc.) (12), and to directly inhibit viral replication (RNA viruses) (10). Lastly, viral disease represents a chronic stressor agent and ES has been shown to raise resistance to chronic stress. (1–21)

ES and cancer
ES may have a role in cancer resistance and treatment. The immune system is the first line of defence against Carcinogenesis and ES has been shown to increase immune function. (1–2) In addition, ES has been shown to raise resistance to radiation and toxic chemicals (1–2), both of which factor into cancer therapies.

References for Eleutherococcus senticosus
• Brekhman, II. and Dardymov, IV. Pharmacological Investigation of Glycosides from Ginseng and Eleutherococcus. II. Lloydia, March 1969, Volume 32, Number 1. P. 46–51.
• Brekhman, II and Dardymov, IV. New Substances of Plant Origin Which Increase Non-specific Resistance. Annual Review of Pharmacology. Henry Elliott, Editor. Annual Reviews, Inc. 1969. P. 419–430.
• Farnsworth N, Kinghorn A, Soejarto D, and Waller D. Siberian Ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus): Current Status as an Adaptogen. Economical and Medicinal Plant Research, volume 1, 1985. P. 155–215.
• Duke, James. Handbook of Phytochemical constituents of GRAS drugs. CRC press. 1992. P. 240.
• Davydov, M and Krikorian, A. Eleutherococcus senticosus as an adaptogen: a closer look. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 72(2000): 345–393.
• Droned J et al. Estimation of humoral activity of Eleutherococcus senticosus. Acta Poll Farm 2002 Sep–Oct; 59(5): 395–401. From PubMed abstracts.
• Yi, JM ET al. Effect of Acanthopanax senticosus stem on mast cell dependent anaphylaxis. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 2002 Mar; 79(3): 347–52. From PubMed abstracts.
• Gaffney BT et al. The effects of Eleutherococcus senticosus and Panax ginseng on steroidal hormone indices of stress and lymphocyte subset numbers in endurance athletes. Life Science 2001 Dec 14; 70(4): 431–42. From PubMed abstracts.
• Deyama T et al. Constituents and pharmacological effects of Eucommia and Siberian ginseng. Acta Pharmacol Sin 2001 Dec; 22(12): 1057–70. From PubMed abstracts.
• Glatthaar-Saalmutter B et al. Antiviral activity of an extract derived from the roots of Eleutherococcus senticosus. Antiviral Research 2001 June; 50(3): 223–8. From PubMed abstracts.
• Gaffney BT et al. Panax ginseng and Eleutherococcus senticosus may exaggerate an already existing biphasic response to stress via inhibition of enzymes with limit the binding of stress hormones to their receptors. Medical Hypotheses 2001 May; 56(5): 567–72. From PubMed abstracts.
• Scholmz MW et al. The synthesis of Rantes, G-CSF, IL-4, IL-5, IL-6, IL-12, and IL-13 in human whole blood cultures is modulated by an extract from Eleutherococcus senticosus root. Phytotherapy Research 2001 May; 15(3): 268–70. From PubMed abstracts.
• Steinmann GG. Immunopharmacological in vitro effects of Eleutherococcus senticosus extracts. Arzneimittelforschung 2001 Jan; 5(1):76–83. From PubMed abstracts.
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Disclaimer: The author makes no guarantees as to the the curative effect of any herb or tonic on this website, and no visitor should attempt to use any of the information herein provided as treatment for any illness, weakness, or disease without first consulting a physician or health care provider. Pregnant women should always consult first with a health care professional before taking any treatment.