[Herbal Rootlets]: No. 70 – Eleuthero: King of Adaptogens

Eleuthero-King-of-Adaptogens

“To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
An eternity in an hour.”

– William Blake

Known as Siberian Ginseng in some parts of the world, Eleuthero has a long history of use as medicine. In the United States, it is illegal to refer to Eleuthero as Siberian Ginseng in commerce as the name Ginseng is used for plants in the Panax genus. Eleuthero is often referred to as the “King of Adaptogens”. We’ll discuss more on that later.

Energetically, Eleuthero is said to be bitter, acrid and warming in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Matt Wood describes Eleuthero as slightly sweet. How would you describe Eleuthero’s taste? Experiment with a bit of dried root. Traditionally the root bark is used but the leaves also contain medicinal properties.

Nutritionally, Eleuthero contains crude and dietary fiber, fat, protein as well as calcium, chromium, cobalt, iron, magnesium, manganese, niacin (B3), phosphorus, potassium, riboflavin (B2), selenium, silicon, thiamine (B1), vitamins A and C and zinc. He also contains the macronutrient, Choline, an important nutrient for liver function, normal brain development, nerve function, muscle movement, supporting energy levels and maintaining a healthy metabolism. Choline is an important nutrient that helps the brain in learning and memory detention. Eleuthero contains sterols, coumarins, flavonoids and polysaccharides.

Eleuthero, leafing out in spring.

Eleuthero, leafing out in spring.

Medicinally, Eleuthero is said to be adaptogenic, antibacterial, antifungal, antimicrobial, antioxidant, antiseptic, antiviral, bitter, chemoprotective, ergogenic, hypoglycemic, immunomodulating, insulinotrophic, neuroprotective, radioprotective, restorative and tonic. Let’s take a closer look at how we can use Eleuthero…

Eleuthero is best known for his adaptogen capabilities and given his title of the “king of adaptogens”, there is probably good reason for this. From Donald Yance’s book, “Adaptogens in Medical Herbalism”, “Eleuthero protects the body and enhances its various systems against the ill effects of any type of stress…Eleuthero demonstrates favorable effects on favors human functions as well, including visual acuity, color differentiation, hearing, fatiguability and thinking in association with motor activity. More so than any other adaptogenic agent it displays a normalizing effect regardless of physiological abnormalities…decreases adrenal hypertrophy and spares the loss of vitamin C from the adrenal glands.”

Close-up of Eleuthero leaves

Close-up of Eleuthero leaves

He is also supportive of lowering LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels, reducing hypertension and relieving angina, especially when stress induced. His is best combined with Motherwort for best results.

As an immunomodulator, Eleuthero helps to strengthen the immune system over time to reduce the chance of catching a cold or other common infectious disease.

Athletes have used the power of Eleuthero’s ergogenic action to increase endurance and stamina which enhanced their performance. It is often combined with Schisandra, Rhodiola or Cordyceps to improve cognitive function and alertness, especially when under severe stress, making this combination good for supporting students and practitioners who put in long working hours with little sleep (though this should not be used as a long term solution). At the same time, as a circulatory stimulant, Eleuthero can help to improve learning and memory function. Many Soviet athletes, cosmonauts, pilots, miners, train operators and factory workers have relied on Eleuthero’s actions to increase their stamina and endurance.

Hairy petioles and veins.

Hairy petioles and veins.

Diabetics may benefit form Eleuthero’s hypoglycemic and insulinotrophic actions, helping the body to restore and nourish the production and activity of insulin and is especially supportive while the diabetic works on their diet and lifestyle to help manage their glucose levels.

Eleuthero is also neuroprotective, supporting and protecting the nervous system while nourishing it.

For those undergoing chemo or radiation, Eleuthero’s chemoprotective and radioprotective actions will protect their body from decreased white blood cell counts and bone marrow suppression while inhibiting metastasis and cancer reoccurrence. After Chernobyl, Eleuthero was used to counteract the effects of radiation for many citizens. Eleuthero also protects the liver and enhances its ability to break down and eliminate chemicals and drugs from the body and stimulates protein synthesis in the liver, pancreas and adrenal cortex. He is great for protecting the body from environmental pollutants as well.

Herbalist Deb Soule with her beautiful Eleuthero plant in bloom. Check out her video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z0TpIjFr5nY

Herbalist Deb Soule with her beautiful Eleuthero plant in bloom. Check out her video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z0TpIjFr5nY

As an antioxidant, Eleuthero further protects the body from free radicals.

For those who enjoy spending time outdoors regardless of the weather, Eleuthero is good to have on hand in case of hypothermia as he can help to normalize body temperature.

Though generally considered safe, Eleuthero can cause overstimulation in sensitive people so those who are sensitive to stimulates should use with caution as he may cause jitters, rapid heart beat and headaches. Eleuthero may react with digoxin so anyone taking it should not taken Eleuthero. Eleuthero has been shown to enhance the effectiveness of mycin-class antibiotics.

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Want to learn more about Eleuthero? This month’s issue is on sale until the end of April.


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