Health uses of Siberian Ginseng

Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus), also known as eleuthero, has been used for centuries in Eastern countries, including China and Russia. Despite its name, it is completely different from American (Panax quinquefolius) and Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng), and has different active chemical components. The active ingredients in Siberian ginseng, called eleutherosides.

It is known as An adaptogen, which is a substance that helps the body better cope with either mental or physical stress.

Siberian Ginseng plant                                                                Siberian Ginseng root

There are many health uses of Siberian Ginseng including;

      1. use in times of undue stress due to work, exams or any other stressful situation,
      2. to increase energy,
      3. for colds and flu,
      4. to strengthen the immune system,
      5. to strengthen the Adrenal glands which produce stress fighting hormones.

The following online article in the Daily Mail by Dr John Briffa about Siberian Ginseng gives further interesting information on this plant.

What could ginseng do for you?

by DR JOHN BRIFFA, Daily Mail 31/10/2014

From work-related pressure and relationship difficulties, to cash concerns and child-rearing issues, life can sometimes seem like a never-ending stream of problems and pitfalls.

The challenges so inherent in our culture can have profound effects on our physical and emotional well-being.

Stress increases the risk of conditions as diverse as colds and flu, heart disease, depression and insomnia, and statistics show a five-fold increase in stress-related illness in the past 40 years.

One way to mitigate against the effects of stress is to build up the body’s internal reserves, enabling it to cope better with the demands life brings. In this respect, natural medicine has much to offer.

For thousands of years, plant extracts have been used as ‘tonics’ to enhance the function of the body and mind in times of stress.

One of the most popular agents, Siberian ginseng, has a history of traditional use dating back more than 2,000 years.

More recently, Siberian ginseng has been the focus of several scientific studies designed to elucidate the precise action of this herb on the body.

Evidence suggests it can do much to enhance our vitality and protect us from the effects of stress.

The chief organs in the body responsible for dealing with stress are the adrenal glands, which secrete a variety of hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol, which have important roles to play in the body’s response to stress.

However, the adrenal glands have only a certain capacity to respond to stress, and prolonged demands can cause them to weaken.

Common symptoms of weakened adrenal glands include fatigue (which is often worse just after the stress of physical exertion), dizziness on standing, anxiety and/or depression.

Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus) has been shown to have a number of beneficial effects on the physiology of both animals and humans. One of these appears to be an ability to protect the adrenal glands, increasing their capacity to withstand prolonged stress.

In animals, Siberian ginseng has been shown to protect against the effects of a wide range of potential stresses, including heat, cold, surgery, blood loss and infection.

Studies on humans have shown that Siberian ginseng can be of benefit in a diverse array of work settings: explorers, sailors, deep-sea divers, rescue workers, truck drivers, pilots and factory workers have all been shown to respond positively to it.

In one study, published in 1997, proof-readers were found to work more quickly and make fewer mistakes when taking Siberian ginseng.

Another of Siberian ginseng’s specific effects is that it appears to enhance the action of the immune system.

This, coupled with its general strengthening effects, may explain why long-term use of this herb has been shown to reduce the rate of infection and absenteeism in workers.

A study of 1,000 Siberian factory workers found that taking Siberian ginseng for just 30 days reduced days lost due to absenteeism by 40 pc over the next year, and general illness rates for the same period were cut by half.

In the Fifties, Russian scientists became interested in Siberian ginseng’s potential to enhance athletic performance.

Siberian ginseng was consistently used by Soviet athletes in the late Seventies and early Eighties, and some believe that their success was, in part, due to the supportive effects of this herb.

It seems that in addition to helping combat the effects of long-term stress, Siberian ginseng also has the capacity to enhance performance and vitality in healthy individuals.

Siberian ginseng is widely available in health food stores. The normal dose is 1-4g of dried herb a day, or 2-8ml per day of a liquid extract.

Sometimes, Siberian ginseng products will be stan-dardised to the content of one of its active ingredients, a compound known as eleutheroside E. Then, 1.25g tablets containing 0.7mg of eleutheroside E should be taken 1-3 times a day.

Traditionally, it is recommended that Siberian ginseng be taken for periods of six weeks, interspersed with breaks of two weeks. Siberian ginseng appears to be safe to take in the long term.

The following very thorough and well researched information comes from the University of Maryland Medical Centre:

Overview

Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus), also known as eleuthero, has been used for centuries in Eastern countries, including China and Russia. Despite its name, it is completely different from American (Panax quinquefolius) and Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng), and has different active chemical components. The active ingredients in Siberian ginseng, called eleutherosides, are thought to stimulate the immune system.

Siberian ginseng was traditionally used to prevent colds and flu and to increase energy, longevity, and vitality. It is widely used in Russia as an “adaptogen.” An adaptogen is a substance that is supposed to help the body better cope with either mental or physical stress.

Until recently, most scientific research on Siberian ginseng was done in Russia. Research on Siberian ginseng has included studies on the following:

COLDS AND FLU

Some double-blind studies have found that a specific product containing Siberian ginseng and andrographis reduced the severity and length of colds when taken with 72 hours of symptoms starting. Researchers don’t know whether Siberian ginseng was responsible or whether it was andrographis, or the combination of the two herbs.

One study compared the same product with amantadine, a drug used to treat some kinds of flu. People with flu who took the same product saw their symptoms go away faster than those who took amantadine.

Another study found that healthy people who took Siberian ginseng for 4 weeks had more T-cells, which may indicate their immune systems were stronger.

HERPES VIRAL INFECTION

One double-blind study of 93 people with herpes simplex virus type 2, which can cause genital herpes, found that taking Siberian ginseng reduced the number of outbreaks. Outbreaks that did happen were less severe and didn’t last as long. Talk to your doctor about whether using Siberian ginseng to help prevent herpes outbreaks would help.

MENTAL PERFORMANCE

Siberian ginseng is often used to increase mental alertness. But there haven’t been enough scientific studies to show that it really works. One preliminary study found that middle-aged volunteers who took Siberian ginseng improved their memory compared to those who took placebo.

PHYSICAL PERFORMANCE

Siberian ginseng is often said to improve athletic performance and increase muscle strength. While some studies have found positive results, others have found that Siberian ginseng didn’t help.

QUALITY OF LIFE

One study found that elderly people who took Siberian ginseng had better mental health and social functioning after 4 weeks of therapy, compared to those who took placebo. But after 8 weeks, the benefits started to go away.

Plant Description

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 the branches and the stem are covered with thorns. Flowers, yellow or violet, grow in umbrella-shaped clusters, and turn into round, black berries in late summer. The root itself is woody and is brownish, wrinkled, and twisted.

What’s It Made Of?

Siberian ginseng supplements are made from the root. The root has a mixture of components called eleutherosides that are thought to have health benefits. Among the other ingredients are chemicals called polysaccharides, which have been found to boost the immune system and lower blood sugar levels in animal tests.

Available Forms

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, may vary greatly. Tests of commercial products claiming to contain Siberian ginseng found that as many as 25% had none of the herb. Plus, many were contaminated with contents not marked on the label. Purchase Siberian ginseng and all herbal products from reputable manufacturers. Ask your pharmacist for help.

How to Take It

Don’t give Siberian ginseng to a child.

For adult use, Siberian ginseng comes in many forms and is often combined with other herbs and supplements for such things as fatigue and alertness. To find the right dose for you, talk to an experienced health care provider.

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 Siberian ginseng again, you should be under the supervision of your doctor.

Precautions

The use of herbs is a time-honored approach to strengthening the body and treating disease. Herbs, however, have components that can trigger side effects and interact with other herbs, supplements, or medications. For these reasons, herbs should be taken with care, under the supervision of a health care provider qualified in the field of botanical medicine.

Siberian ginseng is generally considered safe when used as directed. However, people with high blood pressure, sleep apnea, narcolepsy, heart disease, mental illness such as mania or schizophrenia, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, and people with autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis or Crohn’s disease should not take Siberian ginseng.

Women who have a history of estrogen-sensitive cancers or uterine fibroids should ask their doctor before taking Siberian ginseng because it may act like estrogen in the body.

Some side effects may include:

  • Confusion
  • Drowsiness
  • Headache
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Insomnia
  • Irregular heart rhythm
  • Nosebleed
  • Vomiting

Possible Interactions

If you are being treated with any of the following 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, warfarin (Coumadin), or clopidogrel (Plavix).

Corticosteroids (such as prednisone): Siberian ginseng may interact with 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 lower blood sugar levels, raising the risk of hypoglycemia or low blood sugar.

Lithium: 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 broken down by the liver. If you take any of these kinds of medications, ask your doctor before taking Siberian ginseng.

Drugs that suppress the immune system: Siberian ginseng may boost the immune system and could interact with drugs taken to treat an autoimmune disease or drugs taken after organ transplant.

Sedatives: Siberian ginseng may make the effects of sedatives stronger, especially barbiturates. Barbiturates are medications, including pentobarbital, that are used to treat insomnia or seizures.

Source: Siberian ginseng | University of Maryland Medical Center http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/siberian-ginseng#ixzz3HlK6Y7wb
University of Maryland Medical Center.

Click here to purchase a Siberian Ginseng product 

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