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Eleuthero is an herb common to Asia. Its scientific name is Eleutherococcus senticosus, and the roots are the part of the plants that are used in herbal medicine.
Eleuthero is found in many health supplements. Manufacturers claim that it can lower cholesterol, work as an antioxidant, boost the immune system, improve memory, reduce inflammation, promote energy and create a calm mood.
Eleuthero used to be referred to as Siberian Ginseng because of the common attributes between it and Chinese Ginseng, or Panax ginseng. However, while the two plants are of the same family, Araliaceae, they are not the same genus or species.
The herb has been used in traditional Asian medicine for thousands of years. Eleuthero was used to treat complications of aging, such as arthritis and weakness, to promote healthy organs, to treat respiratory illnesses and to lessen anxiety and stress.
In the 20th century, Eleuthero was used by athletes and those suffering from radiation poisoning in Russia. When it came to Western countries, it was called Siberian Ginseng, but a 2002 law reserved the name ginseng for the Asian and American Panax herbs.
A 2010 Chinese study, found on the National Center for Biotechnology Information’s website, gave mice extracts of eleuthero orally to study the effects on energy. The mice were then made to swim to the point of exhaustion.
After that test, the mice were subjected to sleep deprivation. The researchers concluded that the eleuthero increased both the physical and mental energy of the mice.
Another Chinese study also showed an increase in the memory functions of mice after they were given eleuthero. The mice were timed while completing a maze and the model group outperformed the control group, leading the researchers to conclude that eleuthero has a positive effect on memory.
However, detractors point out that animal testing does not always correlate exactly to show the effects the supplement or medicine will have in humans.
An “adaptogen” is any herbal substance that is used to protect the body from stress, weakness or trauma. While many claims are made about many herbal “adaptogens,” only those claims that are backed by science should be given credence.
A review of all of the tested benefits of eleuthero was published in the journal “Pharmazie” in 2011 by Chinese researchers. The review lists eleuthero medicinal properties as alleviating stress and inflammation and protecting against cancer, ulcers, radiation and liver damage. The review was published through the National Institutes of Health.
However, again, some tests were conducted in vitro, meaning in the test tube, or on animals (in vivo). Not all in vitro testing or animal testing carries over the exact same way in human trials.
Side effects reported while using eleuthero include diarrhea, nausea, changes in heartbeat, muscle spasms, raised blood pressure, anxiety, depression, and tiredness. Be sure to discuss any side effects with your doctor.
Anyone planning on starting a new supplement or medication regimen should first consult with their health care provider and pharmacist. Women who are pregnant or nursing should not take Eleuthero.
Web MD, lists the following contraindications with eleuthero:
Eleuthero is sold in the form of pills, capsules, liquids and teas. The American Cancer Society, lists that 2 or 3 grams are taken every day for up to two months. Then, a break of one or two weeks should be taken so the herb does not lose its effectiveness in the body.
There are also a wide variety of sources for supplements with eleuthero. Not all manufacturers follow GMP, or Good Manufacturing Practices; you should research the source of any supplement you are taking to make sure that the manufacturer’s processes are governed by law.
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