7 Surprising Benefits of Eleuthero

By: Courtney Sperlazza, MPH
March 6, 2018

  • Herbalists and other natural healers have used eleuthero, also known as Siberian ginseng, for thousands of years to increase endurance, to reduce fatigue, to boost immunity, and for overall longevity.
  • Eleuthero is an adaptogen, which means it helps your body adapt to stress by acting on the adrenals and mediating your body’s stress response.
  • Read on to get the early research on how eleuthero affects the immune system, brain, and more.

Herbalists and other natural healers have used eleuthero, also known as Siberian ginseng, for thousands of years to increase endurance, to reduce fatigue, to boost immunity, and for overall longevity.

Eleuthero is an adaptogen, which means it helps your body adapt to stress by acting on the adrenals and mediating your body’s stress response. Adaptogens are generally well-tolerated, non-allergenic, and can be taken long-term. Most often, the root of the eleuthero plant is prepared as a tincture or extract, but the leaves may be used in some applications.

The bigger question…does eleuthero work?

Here’s what the science says so far.

Eleuthero, immune function, and resisting disease

Supplementing with eleuthero boosted immune function in mice both before and during illness.[1] Researchers also measured immune-boosting effects in human cancer patients and in healthy controls.[2] One study showed eleuthero’s potential to maintain healthy T4 lymphocytes, the specific immune cells that drop as a result of HIV and AIDS.[3]

In addition to its potential to enhance immunity, eleuthero may weaken pathogens that make their way into your body. Researchers measured anti-viral activity of eleuthero — it inhibited virus cell replication in cell cultures.[4] In combination with andrographis (another herbal supplement), eleuthero was measurably effective as a treatment for the common cold.[5] It shows strong antioxidant activity, which can help you recover more quickly if you do come down with something.[6]

Related: How to Get Rid of a Cold Quickly

Eleuthero helps you respond better to stress

Eleuthero is an adaptogen,[7] which means it’s a generally well-tolerated herb that mediates the stress response. Supplementing with eleuthero supports adrenal gland function, the gland that is responsible for cortisol and other stress hormones, when you experience stress.[8]

Neurological and mental benefits of eleuthero

Researchers found that compounds in eleuthero improved learning and memory in elderly rats, likely because it helps the body recycle choline and synthesize more acetylcholine in the hippocampus.[9] It also increased mental sharpness in a similar way coffee does, without the caffeine crash that typically comes later if you didn’t blend it with grass-fed butter and Brain Octane Oil.[10]

Other studies show the potential of eleuthero as a general neuroprotective[11]  and protective for neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson’s disease.[12] Specifically, eleuthero was effective in preventing Parkinson’s-associated slow movements and certain types of seizures.[13]

While more research is needed, eleuthero may have antidepressive effects.[14]  Here are some other things you can do to treat depression naturally.[15]

Eleuthero may improve endurance

Preliminary evidence shows that eleuthero may help reduce fatigue and increase endurance. In an animal study, supplementing with eleuthero lengthened the time mice spent performing a swim test and other endurance tests.[16] In another study, mice didn’t show the normal behavioral alterations from sleep deprivations that researchers usually see.[17]

Human studies show similar improvements in endurance. Scientists measured a decreased stress response in endurance athletes after supplementing with eleuthero.[18] Research points to improved oxygen utilization as a mechanism behind improved endurance.[19]  Other measured enhancements include improved cardiovascular function and improved glycogen metabolism in men.[20]

Eleuthero may protect DNA

Several in vitro studies point to the potential protective effects of eleuthero on DNA. Treating bacterial cultures with eleuthero prevented alterations in DNA.[21]

Similarly, researchers cultured cells and treated them with radiation, to find that the ones they treated with eleuthero compounds were more resistant to radiation.[22] A test tube study of mammalian cells showed that eleuthero protects the body from ionizing radiation exposure.[23]

Eleuthero and blood sugar

Animal studies indicate that eleuthero might have an effect on blood glucose and the insulin response. Eleuthero extract effectively regulated blood sugar in diabetic mice.[24] Effects are likely due to improved insulin signaling and glucose utilization.[25]

The effects of eleuthero on cancer

Preliminary research shows the possibility of eleuthero as an adjunct treatment for cancer. Extracts of eleuthero showed antitumor effects on human stomach cancer cell cultures.[26] inhibited the proliferation of several lung, colon[27] and breast cancer strains.[28]

Eleuthero could also benefit cancer patients by affecting the immune response. In one study it stimulated the immune response in cancer patients and healthy controls.[29]

Adaptogens are worth exploring, but don’t use them to make up for a crappy diet and lifestyle. Making sure to eat good food, get outside, and sleep well, and generally take care of yourself will do more for your stress, energy, and longevity than any one herb will do. Pay attention to adaptogens and key supplements, but don’t forget the basics.

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