encyclopedia

Siberian Ginseng

Scientific Names:
Eleutherococcus senticosus (Rupr. & Maxim.) Maxim [Fam. Araliaceae]

Forms:
Dried whole root; root extract (liquid or dry).

Traditional Usage:

– Allergies

– Anti-aging

– Antioxidant

– Anti-stress

– Bronchitis

– Exercise Performance

– Fatigue

– Infections

– Memory

– Mental Efficiency

– Restorative

– Stamina

– Stimulates Immune System

– Temperature Adaptation

– Tonic

Overview:
Siberian ginseng, Eleutherococcus senticosus (Rupr. & Maxim.) Maxim [Fam. Araliaceae] [Fam. Araliaceae], also known as Chinese ginseng, is a thorny shrub native to eastern Russia, northern China, and Japan. Siberian ginseng has palm-shaped leaves and produces small flowers and black berries. The medicinal properties of this species are found in the roots and leaves, which contain eleutherosdies, the active ingredient believed to be responsible for increasing the body’s resistance to environmental, physical, and mental stress. Siberian ginseng has been used by Chinese practitioners for over 2000 years to treat bronchitis, infections, improve concentration and memory, and to increase energy, resistance, and longevity. Russians began studies in the 1950s that corroborated the claims of the ancient Chinese, although many of these studies were crude and did not use large population samples. Despite this by the mid-1970s many Russian athletes, factory workers, soldiers, and pilots were using this extract to improve their performance and concentration. Today, Siberian ginseng is still popular throughout Russia, Europe, and Asia. For women it appears to be a safe alternative to Panax ginseng, which is primarily used by men. Studies involving over 2100 healthy subjects (published in 1985) found that Siberian ginseng improved quality of proofreading, speed and quality of work by radiotelegraphers in noisy conditions, capillary resistance, and number of days lost to sickness amongst factory workers. A placebo-controlled trial found an increase in the working capacity of six males using a ginseng extract. A recent study found that Siberian ginseng dose-dependently inhibited systemic allergy (specific-compound-induced) with doses below 1 g/kg. Systemic allergy was reduced by 25% with the dose of 1 g/kg and passive skin allergic reaction was inhibited by 51%. Siberian ginseng also dose-dependently inhibited histamine release. Even at low dosage (0.01 mg/ml) it appears to be beneficial for various types of allergic diseases.

Active Ingredients:
Siberian ginseng contains the following constituents: Eleutherosides (including eleutherosides A to G within the root; and eleutherosides I, K, L and M within the whole plant); senticosides; essential oil (ca. 0.8% within the root and 0.5% within the fruit); vitamin E; beta-carotene; glycans (eleutherans); isofraxidin; syringin (antistress); sesamin; saponins; resin; beta-sitosterol; and polysaccharides. A new lignan glycoside, named eleutheroside E (2) (1), has been isolated from the roots of Eleutherococcus senticosus, along with isomaltol 3-O-alpha-D-glucopyranoside (2), eleutherosides B, E and E (1), and thymidine.

Suggested Amount:
Extract: 2 to 12 ml daily of 33% ethanol extract. Whole Plant: 2 to 8 grams of the powdered root. In general, long-term, uninterrupted use of ginseng is not recommended. Human studies involving long-term administration of ginseng have involved ginseng-free periods of 2-3 weeks every 30-60 days.

Drug Interactions:
Taking large doses of ginseng in combination with stimulants, including caffeine is not recommended. In view of the pharmacological actions of ginseng, interactions may occur with existing therapies for conditions including: cardiac, anticoagulant, hypoglycaemic and hypo/hypertension.

Contraindications:
Although some studies indicate that eleutherosides lower blood pressure, Siberian Ginseng is not recommended for those suffering from high blood pressure (180/90 mmHg or greater). Avoid during pregnancy and lactation. Ginseng is also advised against for premenopausal women and individuals who are highly energetic, nervous, tense, hysteric, manic or schizophrenic and should not be taken with coffee or antipsychotic drugs or during hormone treatment.

Side Effects:
None known when taken as directed. Rare instances of insomnia, headaches, and high blood pressure were reported in the Russian studies. In general, long-term, uninterrupted use of ginseng is not recommended and one author has documented the main side-effect of prolonged use as an inflamed nerve, frequently the sciatic, which then causes muscle spasm in the affected area. Human studies involving long-term administration of ginseng have involved ginseng-free periods of 2-3 weeks every 30-60 days.

References:

Farnsworth NR et al. 1985. Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus): Current status as an adaptogen. In: Economic and Medicinal Plant Research, vol. 1, Wagner et al. (Eds.). London: Academic Press, 155-209.

Jeong HJ, Koo HN, Myung NI, Shin MK, Kim JW, Kim DK, Kim KS, Kim HM, Lee YM. 2001. Inhibitory effects of mast cell-mediated allergic reactions by cell cultured Siberian Ginseng. Immunopharmacol Immunotoxicol 2001 Feb; 23(1): 107-17.

Kitts D, Hu C. 2000. Efficacy and safety of ginseng. Public Health Nutr 2000 Dec; 3(4A): 473-85

McCaleb, RS, Leigh, E, Morien, K. 2000. The Encyclopedia of Popular Herbs. Publ. by Prima Publishing, 3000 Lava Ridge Court, Roseville, CA 95661. Pp. 342 – 349.

Newall CA, Anderson LA, and Phillipson JD. 1996. Ginseng, Eleutherococcus. In Herbal Medicines. A Guide for Health Care Professionals. The Pharmaceutical Press, London, pp. 141-144.