Siberian Ginseng (Eleuthero)

SIBERIAN GINSENG (ELEUTHERO) (Eleutherococcus senticosus)

Family: Araliaceae

Parts commonly used: Root.

Properties/energetics: Adaptogen, immunomodulator, energy tonic/Warm; sweet.

Systems predominantly affected:  Immune, nervous, circulatory, respiratory.

Uses: Siberian Ginseng, a bushy member of the Ginseng family whose legislated marketplace name is now Eleuthero, is a classic adaptogen. This means it helps produce a state of nonspecific resistance that modifies underlying imbalances caused by stressors regardless of the stressor’s specific nature (chemical, physical, social, political, psychological, and so on). The remarkably wide-ranging effects of Siberian Ginseng can be traced to its positive effect on the general-adaptation syndrome. When confronted with long-term stress, a person’s initial response, known as the alarm reaction, is rendered less severe. The resistance phase, when an individual is coping with a stress, is prolonged (dealing better with things delays onset of the exhaustive stage), and the exhaustive stage that can follow long-term stress is better handled. Overall, Siberian Ginseng increases one’s stamina, mental alertness, and sense of well-being, thereby countering general debility. Siberian Ginseng’s adaptogenic qualities have been shown to improve generalized resistance to infectious diseases and reduce damage from radiation. Although its effect on the adrenal cortex give it wide-ranging uses, it seems to have a special affinity for the circulatory system. It has been shown to balance both high and low blood pressure, reduce serum-cholesterol levels, and relieve anginal pain. Siberian Ginseng positively affects athletic performance, physical endurance, workload capacity, and recovery rate after exertion. Taking it as a tonic (low doses six weeks on, six weeks off) allows one to better handle difficult work situations (heat, noise, motion, workload increase, and so on), emotional and chemical stressors, living in large cities, and the general angst some folks feel from just living in twenty-first-century society.

Combinations: Siberian Ginseng works quite well by itself. It is effective as an ingredient in compounds formulated to treat impotence. Use with Hawthorn for recovery of heart attack and surgery and with Licorice and Rosemary for low blood pressure and with Astragalus to increase white blood cell production during chemotherapy.

Affects on specific body types: Siberian Ginseng is appropriate for use with all constitutional types, because, by definition, an adaptogen balances conditions whether they are excess or deficient. This herb does, however, have a somewhat warming and stimulating nature that can be uncomfortable for certain individuals, causing insomnia and irritability. The people most likely affected by this energy are Warriors and Seers who find themselves on the hyperactive side of their physiological swings.

Preparations/dosage: Decoction: During times of stress, take 1/2 cup frequently throughout the day. Tincture: 25 to 60 drops three times a day. Tablets: Take up to 1 gram three times a day. Take the above doses for up to sixty days, then rest for about two weeks to best appreciate results. As an overall tonic, take low doses for repeated series of six weeks on, six weeks off. For therapeutic use when feeling tired and sluggish, when lacking sleep, to prevent respiratory infections, cold, and flu, to shorten the length of diarrhea associated with antibiotics, or to prevent and repair damage from chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy, take until you feel better.

By James Green, Herbalist, copyright 2008

For more information please refer to James Green’s book, The Male Herbal, 2nd Edition