Eleuthero

Eleuthero

Eleuthero, Eleutherococcus senticosus, is a fantastic adaptogenic herb for people under constant stress, who work hard and get inadequate sleep such as, doctors, college students and graveyard shift workers.

FAMILY

Araliaceae

OTHER NAMES

Siberian ginseng, Ci wu jia (Chinese), ezoukogi (Japanese)

PARTS USED

Roots

HABITAT

Eleuthero is found in Siberia, northern China, Korea, and northern Japan.

BOTANICAL DESCRIPTION

Eleuthero is a slender, thorny shrub with slanting branches.

Height: 2-3 meters (about 6-10 feet)
Width: 1-2 meters (about 3-6 feet)
Flowers: Small, in umbels, yellow (female) or blue-violet (male and female)
Fruits: Black with 5 seeds
Leaves: Green and palmate with 5 leaflets
Blooms: Summer

CULTIVATION

Eleuthero is easy to cultivate and will grow in most places.

Hardiness: Zones 3 to 8.
Propagation: Seed
Germination: Difficult. It needs a few years of winter freeze to germinate.
Space: 1-2 meters (about 3-6 feet)
Soil: All types
pH: Acid, neutral and alkaline
Exposure: Full sun (tolerates dappled shade)
Pests: (still researching)
Garden Design: (still researching and experimenting)
Companion planting: (still researching)

HARVEST

The best time to harvest eleuthero is when the plant is dormant. Cut odd the rootlets and discard them. Wash the root thoroughly and let it dry before using. The Chinese remove the root bark and discard it as they consider the root cortex to be the most potent part of the root.

DRYING

Place the leaves on a flat surface in a well ventilated room to dry. You can also use a dehydrator set at 35 Celsius (95 F). When the leaves are crisp, store them in a airtight container away from light.

CONSTITUENTS

Eleutherosides, glucosides, caffeic acid, coumarins, lignans, saponins, sterols, sugars, phenylpropanoids

PROPERTIES

Adaptogen, antioxidant, anticholesterolemic (reduces cholesterol levels in the blood), immunomodulator, nervine, tonic, mild stimulant, choleretic, hypoglycemic

ENERGETICS

Warm

TASTE

Sweet, slightly bitter

SCENT

Slightly pungent

MEDICINAL USE OF ELEUTHERO

A mild adaptogen, eleuthero can be taken over long periods of time as it usually doesn’t cause overstimulation. Eleuthero strengthens the immune system, speeds recovery and enhances athletic performance. It is fabulous for improving cognitive function and concentration when under stress. It is good for stress induced hypertension and can improve the quality of sleep.
Patients undergoing chemotherapy and radiation therapy have suppressed immune systems and can be greatly benefited by eleuthero immune boosting qualities.

TCM: In traditional Chinese medicine, eleuthero is used for treating people with “wind” or “damp”conditions. Wind correlates to spasmodic conditions and damp to swelling and edema. In Li Shizhen’s Ben Cao Gang Mu, he recommends eleuthero for people with hernias, paralysis, and weak tendons and ligaments. It is used to strengthen the Chinese spleen (which is not the organ called spleen but the ability to extract nutrients from food).

Used internally for:

  • cognitive function
  • stamina and endurance
  • weak immunity
  • poor sleep
  • fatigue
  • stress induced hypertension
  • weak tendons and ligaments (TCM)
  • hernias (TCM)
  • paralysis (TCM)
  • strengthening the Chinese spleen (TCM)

Recommended daily dosage

Tincture: (1:4): 60-100 drops, three or four times per day.
Decoction: 1-2 tsp dried powdered root per 400 ml (about 14 fl oz) water. Slowly decoct for 20-30 minutes, steep 1 hour. Drink up to three cups per day.
Fluid extract: (1:1): 20-40 drops three times per day.

HOMEMADE PREPARATIONS
  • tincture
  • decoction
  • powder
SIDE EFFECTS

Eleuthero may interact with digoxin, so avoid concurrent use. It may also enhance the effectiveness of mycin-class antibiotics.

CONTRA-INDICATIONS

High blood pressure

Eleuthero

References
Winston, D. Maimes, S. 2007. Adaptogens: Herbs for strength, stamina, and stress relief. Rochester: Healing Arts Press
Wichtl M. 2004. Herbal drugs and phytopharmaceuticals – A handbook for practice on a scientific basis. 3rd ed. Stuttgart: medpharm Scientific Publishers

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