If you spend more time than you'd like feeling tired and stressed, you aren't alone. Chronic stress is a challenge for many people and will eventually have a negative impact on your body and health. (1)
While there are many temporary "fixes" for feeling fatigued and out of sorts, herbs can have a real restorative effect on your body and help bring you back into balance. In fact, ancient medicinal practices often turned to plants to help people suffering from burn-out and constant fatigue.
On herb commonly used in traditional Chinese medicine and now increasing in popularity in the western world is eleuthero. Also known as Siberian ginseng, it can help with stress, energy, immune health, and more.
Here's more about the benefits of eleuthero and how it can help you feel better.
What Is Eleuthero Root?
Eleuthero (Eleutherococcus senticosus) is one of more than 30 species belong to the Eleutherococcus genus. Despite being frequently referred to as Siberian ginseng, eleuthero is not a true ginseng, although it is distantly related to the American and Asian ginsengs.
Eleuthero plants are native to China, Japan, Eastern Russia, and Korea. It forms a shrub with bright green leaves and grayish-brown branches covered in small spikes or bristles. (2)
The root is the part of the plant harvested for medicinal use. It's been used to promote health in Chinese medicine and other folk medicines for at least 2000 years.
However, in spite of the many potential health benefits of eleuthero, it didn't come to the attention of Western practitioners until the 1960's when Russian researchers started studying it and published their results.
Compounds called eleutherosides are found in the root and are thought to be mainly responsible for the potential benefits of eleuthero. It also contains polysaccharides (which can boost your immune system) and other plant compounds.
Top Benefits of Eleuthero
Helps Combat Stress
Eleuthero root is the first known herb to be called an adaptogen, a term coined in 1957 by Russian scientist Nikolay Lazarev. (3) Adaptogenic herbs have a non-specific and normalizing effect on your body, meaning they help it to cope with stress by bringing it back into balance.
Adaptogens can help recharge your adrenal glands and also raise your resistance to stress. Animal studies have shown that they can have anti-fatigue, neuroprotective, and antidepressive effects. (4)
Like other adaptogens, eleuthero is often recommended to be taken over a period of time to combat the effects of stress.
Helps Fight Fatigue
Another property of adaptogens is the ability to combat mental and physical fatigue. They are often used over a period of time to aid in recovery after a long period of stress or physical illness.
These benefits are also found in eleuthero root, and it can act both as a tonic herb and a mild stimulant. This means that it can have an impact on fatigue immediately and will continue to work over time to restore energy.
Though good quality human studies are still lacking, it's been confirmed in animal studies that eleuthero can "alleviate fatigue both in physical and mental fatigue." (5)
If you feel like you're struggling with stress, adrenal fatigue, or general lack of energy, give your body some extra support with this Adrenal Love tea containing eleuthero and other adaptogens.
Can Improve Energy and Athletic Performance
You don't have to be tired and stressed out or recovering from an illness to benefit from eleuthero. It's often used as a supplement by professional runners because of its ability to boost energy, stamina, and alertness.
One study found that recreationally trained male athletes who consumed 800 mg. of eleuthero root each day had improved endurance and physical performance. (6)
Helps Fight Viruses
Eleutherosides, the main compound found in eleuthero root, have shown an ability to improve immune function. (7) Your immune system plays a vital role in stopping pathogens before they make you sick.
Adaptogens in general have a positive effect on immune health because they support the normal, healthy functioning of your body. This research into the powerful properties of eleutherosides confirms a traditional use of eleuthero for maintaining overall health.
Lab studies have also shown that eleuthero has antiviral properties. It specifically inhibited virus strains that cause the common cold, respiratory tract infections, and influenza A. (8) A separate study indicated that it may have potential for reducing the severity of herpes (HSV-2). (9)
Supports Brain Function
Eleuthero is beneficial for mental energy as well as physical energy. It can help your alertness and focus improve and may also help with memory and learning.
This is thought to happen because eleuthero root increases oxygenation and improves circulation to the brain. These properties along with its anti-stress and anti-fatigue effects can really give you a mental boost.
How to Use Eleuthero
You can use eleuthero at home as a powder or a cut and dried herb. You can also buy it in pre-filled capsules and as a tincture or extract.
The dried powder can be taken in relatively large doses (2-3 g) each day because it's a food-grade herb. If using a tincture or extract, check the label for the appropriate dose. The root can also be used to make a tea, although this is not as common unless it's combined with other adaptogenic herbs.
If you want to use eleuthero long-term for stress, fatigue, or immune health, consult with a natural health practitioner to come up with the form and dose that will work best for you.
Precautions With Eleuthero Root
Eleuthero is typically a safe herb with no side effects other than a possible energy increase, which is usually a desired result.
The biggest safety concern is that many eleuthero supplements were discovered to be adulterated with other Eleutherococcus species or with completely different herbs. Some contained no eleuthero root whatsoever. (10) Be sure you buy from a reputable seller.
Mild side effects of eleuthero can include muscle spasms, insomnia, anxiety, and digestive upset. Because it can be stimulating and increase energy, avoid taking in the evening or right before bed.
Eleuthero can have moderate interactions with certain heart, sedative, and anti-diabetic medications. Consult with your doctor before taking if you are using these or other prescriptions.
Can You Benefit from Eleuthero?
Most of use could use some stress relief and a boost of energy, which many adaptogenic herbs provide. You can use the adaptogen eleuthero to fight stress and fatigue, strengthen your immune system, and boost brain power.
This herb has proven itself for many centuries and can certainly be helpful for many of us today. Try it out for yourself!