(Eleutherococcus senticosus)


Excerpted from:

Adaptogens in Medical Herbalism

By Donald R. Yance

“Eleuthero is the most well-known, well-researched, and well-suited adaptogen in the world. Often referred to as the ‘king’ adaptogen, there are more published scientific studies on Eleuthero than on any other herb. It blends well with other herbs, and because it grows abundantly throughout areas of Russia and northern China, it can be produced in large quantities for the masses.

“The root contains steroidal glycosides known as eleutherosides, the major compounds that provide the primary adaptogenic, antistress, anabolic actions of Eleuthero, as well as of Ginseng, and these are the most-studied constituents.


“Eleuthero protects the body and enhances its various systems against the ill effects of any type of stress, including that resulting from workload, heat, cold, excessive exercise, hypokinesis, and radiation. It enhances physical capability and stamina and stimulates mental work (quality of work). It demonstrates favorable effects on various human functions, including visual acuity, color differentiation, hearing, fatigability, and thinking in association with motor activity. More so than any other adaptogenic agent, it displays a normalizing effect regardless of physiological abnormalities (e.g. normalization of blood pressure in patients with elevated or lowered blood pressure and normalization of blood sugar levels in hyper- or hypoglycemia). The leaf extract is more effective for mental and physical stimulation, while the root extract is more effective at sustaining performance over a long period of time. The leaf is also more effective for balancing blood insulin and glucose levels than the root. Using the leaf and root extract together appears to be more effective than either one used alone. Eleuthero is believed to support adrenal gland function when the body is challenged by stress. It decreases adrenal hypertrophy, a common manifestation of prolonged stress response, and spares the loss of vitamin C from the adrenal glands. Its wide range of therapeutic actions, lack of toxicity and side effects, and overall normalizing action justify its reputation as the king adaptogen.


“Modern research proved that Eleuthero increased stamina and endurance in Soviet Olympic athletes and Russian cosmonauts, explorers, sailors, factory workers, pilots, train operators, and miners. Research also demonstrated that Eleuthero prevented and treated infectious diseases such as the flu and prevented stress-related illness and fatigue, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and chemical toxicity. After the Chernobyl nuclear accident, many Russian and Ukrainian citizens were given Eleuthero to counteract the effects of radiation. It has been shown to protect humans and animals from radiation and chemotherapy; it has been studied and used in oncology as an immune-modulating compound to improve cancer patient survival and recovery as well as to inhibit metastasis and cancer reoccurrence.




“A stress reaction is based on the activation of an organism’s energy supply by means of catabolic processes. The key trigger of these processes is the stress-induced hyperproduction and hypersecretion of adrenal cortical glucocorticoid hormones. The most striking biological property of Eleuthero is its ability to prevent or alleviate the general adaptation syndrome, which is well known to be an overall nonspecific defense reaction of the body to any sufficiently strong exogenous or endogenous factor.


“There are over a hundred publications available on the antistress action of Eleuthero.   Eleuthero has the ability to decrease the level of the alarm reaction, delaying the onset of adrenal exhaustion.   It allows a more economical and efficient release of corticosteroids and adrenaline.


“When it comes to stress, Eleuthero enhances the ability to energize and mobilize the protective mechanisms. It increases the mobilization of energy and working tissue during stress and decreases the stress response, encouraging the body to return to normal levels following its usage, thus decreasing the long-term damaging effects of stress.   It is well suited for anyone who is stressed out, run down, ‘burning the candle at both ends,’ traveling and not getting enough sleep, working long hours, pushing mentally and/or physically, or undergoing surgery or cytotoxic cancer treatments. Eleuthero is highly effective in improving our adaptive capacity to respond to adverse conditions. It can help with temperature extremes, immobilization, recovery from injury, recovery from drug intoxication, cancer therapies, X-rays, the effects of high-dose hormone therapies (insulin, epinephrine, steroids), and jet lag. It has a preventive effect against biological pathogens and improves both mental and physical work capacity. Eleuthero can be used in any circumstance where there is a need to normalize any physiological, biochemical, or immunological defect.

“Eleuthero extract increases the ability of humans to withstand many adverse physical conditions (i.e. heat, noise, motion, excessive workload, exercise, and decompression) and improves mental alertness and work output, especially under stressful conditions. A variety of stress-related illnesses have been studied, including angina, hypertension, hypotension, acute pyelonephritis (kidney inflammation), various types of neuroses, acute craniocerebral trauma, rheumatic heart disease, chronic bronchitis, and cancer. In all such cases, the anabolic effects of Eleuthero extract contribute to an enhanced immune system response. Eleuthero extract increases general immunogenesis and in particular interferon production and is thus antiviral.


* * * * * * * *


“Eleuthero has both an overall tonic effect and an immune-enhancing antiviral effect that contributes to its reputation as a disease-preventive herb.  


“There are a great many clinical studies on the capacity of Eleuthero to modulate various systems of the body, inhibiting the process of diseases such as those of the upper respiratory tract (in particular, influenza), atherosclerosis, hypertension, arrhythmia, rheumatic heart disease, nephritis, and diabetes.




“Many studies show the role of Eleuthero as an important tool in cancer treatment, as an antitoxin and antioxidant, as a radiation/chemotherapy-protective and immune restorative/enhancing agent, and as a cancer-inhibiting agent.


Though Eleuthero has no direct cytotoxic effect on cancer cells, it has been clinically proven to demonstrate a host of other beneficial effects with regard to cancer. These include the following:


Increasing the body’s immune response against cancer


Improving the overall health of the patient, reducing fatigue, and enhancing the health of all the vital organs


Serving as a general antitoxic/antioxidant


Retarding the development of cancer and cancer metastases


Increasing tolerability of radiation treatment and preventing radiation sickness; protecting and enhancing the effectiveness of radiation


Increasing the tolerability and effectiveness of chemotherapy and biological therapy; improving immune system recovery; protecting vital organs and enhancing the general condition in terms of appetite, sleep, energy level, etc.









Nonspecific antistress effects
















Antifatigue; enhances mental acuity and physical endurance and work and exercise capacity without the letdown that comes with stimulants such as caffeine products


Increases noradrenaline and serotonin and encourages quicker recovery from acute stress


Improves oxygen uptake by exercising muscles, enabling longer workouts and quicker recovery time for performance athletes


Anabolic effect; stimulates protein synthesis in the pancreas, liver, and adrenal cortex


Improves learning and memory


Protects against environmental pollutants and radiation


Normalizes body temperature, thus treating hypothermia


Regulates blood sugar levels (leaf extract is more effective than the root)


Protects the liver and enhances its ability to break down and eliminate drugs from the body


Increases the body’s ability to resist infection; prevents colds and flu and shortens recovery time




Supports optimum endocrine function






Inhibits metastasis of cancer


Decreases the side effects of toxic therapies like chemotherapy and radiation


Strong antioxidant against free radicals and antilipid peroxidative activities


Improves visual acuity and color perception




Protects against bone loss induced by steroid hormones




Improves circadian biorhythms


“Eleuthero is able to reduce cardiovascular responses to stress. It modulates lipids and reduces cholesterol and improves patients with ischemic heart disease.


“In an animal study using rats, oral administration of Eleuthero powder offered significant neuroprotection. It reduced hippocampal neuronal death by up to 53.1% compared with a placebo control group. Eleuthero mechanisms include anti-inflammatory effects and protection from ischemia.”


Excerpted from:

Adaptogens, Herbs for Strength, Stamina, and Stress Relief

By David Winston and Steven Maimes


“Eleuthero is used in China to strengthen the qi and the Chinese spleen and kidneys. The Chinese spleen is very different from the organ known as the spleen in the West. In traditional Chinese medicine, the spleen separates the ‘pure’ from the ‘impure.’ This relates to the ability to extract nutrients or ‘grain qi’ from foods. Symptoms of deficient spleen qi include fatigue, listlessness, chronic low-grade diarrhea, lack of appetite, and abdominal bloating. Using this herb, usually along with digestive herbs and other stronger tonic herbs, helps to relieve these symptoms.


“As an adaptogen, Eleuthero is mild and equally appropriate for men or women, young people or the elderly. It is unlikely to cause overstimulation and can be taken over long periods of time.


“In clinical studies, this herb has been shown to help relieve angina symptoms and lower LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels. It relaxes the arteries and can be used to treat ‘white coat’ (stress induced) hypertension when combined with Motherwort and Chrysanthemum flower.


“Eleuthero also strengthens the immune system, and regular use will reduce the incidence of colds and other common infectious diseases. Cancer patients receiving chemotherapy and radiation therapy often develop bone marrow suppression and decreased white blood cell counts. In one clinical study, Eleuthero was able to reverse these conditions in most patients.


“Athletes can benefit from using Eleuthero. It increases endurance and stamina, enhances mitochondrial activity, speeds recovery and prevents immune depletion from excessive training. It can be combined with Cordyceps, Rhodiola, or Schisandra for enhancing athletic performance and for improving alertness and cognitive function when under severe stress or when working long hours. Physicians with long shifts, those with flex shift jobs, and students pulling “all nighters” will likely feel better, perform better, and recover more quickly when using these adaptogenic tonic herbs.


“In my clinical practice, I use Eleuthero for stressed-out, type A people who work long hours and don’t get adequate sleep. It acts as a nervine to improve the quality of sleep and prevents nighttime waking. I also use it for patients with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), chronic fatigue immune deficiency syndrome, jet lag, and adrenal fatigue.



Tincture:   2 – 3 dropperfuls, three or four times per day.

Safety Issues:   It is possible that Eleuthero can interact with cardiac medications such as digoxin (Lanoxin).

Herb/Drug Interactions: There are reports of Eleuthero interacting with digoxin. The use of Eleuthero along with mycin-class antibiotics enhanced their effectiveness.”



Excerpted from:

The Way of Herbs

By Michael Tierra


“Eleuthero is a relative of Ginseng that is used for its general tonic properties and for its calming effects. It is used in conditions for which Ginseng would be considered too stimulating. It is considered by the Chinese to be the best medicine for treating insomnia. It is also extensively used for bronchitis and chronic lung ailments.   In the treatment and prevention of heart disease, Eleuthero is used to lower blood pressure and reduce cholesterol levels. It has been used to treat arthritis, low blood oxygen, impotence, and stress. It is a mild herb and must be used in large doses, about eight to thirty grams per day, depending upon the severity of the ailment. * The leaves are stronger and are taken two to eight grams per day. **


*[Presumably, Tierra is referring to the dried root. 28 grams = 1 ounce, so the “large doses” are ranging up to about an ounce a day].

** [Using dried leaves, the dose would be no more than about a quarter of an ounce a day].


“Eleuthero has a warm energy and a biting taste. It affects the systems of the heart, circulation, nerves, and lungs.   Its properties are as a cardiac tonic and an antispasmodic.”



Eleuthero Root cut

Eleuthero Root powder

Eleuthero Root liquid extract

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