Eleuthero Root (Eleutherococcus senticosus)
Russian scientists coined term adaptagen to describe the effects of Eleuthero root. They discovered that secretaries who took eleuthero made less mistakes. Athletes given eleuthero performed better and factory workers took fewer sick days when giving the herb. It was discovered that this relative of ginseng helped the body cope better with stress by reducing the output of stress hormones.
It was introduced into the American marketplace as Siberian ginseng, but in order to not confuse it with true ginsengs, regulations were made requiring it be called eleuthero. But, this doesn’t change the amazing properties of this plant, which is a life-saver for many of the people in modern society.
By reducing the effects of stress and the production of stress hormones like cortisol, eleuthero improves athletic performance, normalizes immune and adrenal responses, improves recovery time after illness, improves memory, reduces fatigue, and generally enhances feelings of well-being. That’s quite a list, but there’s more. Several studies have shown eleuthero can help eye problems such as glaucoma and myopia. Eleuthero can reduce the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation in cancer treatment. It also stimulates better immune responses.
I don’t know about you, but as an A blood type, stress is my number one enemy. It reduces my effectiveness, causes me to lose sleep and makes me gain weight. That’s because cortisol, a stress hormone released by the adrenals, causes muscle breakdown and the build-up of abdominal fat. Well, if stress is my enemy, then eleuthero and other adaptagens like it are my friends. They reduce stress, help me sleep better, and even help me lose weight.
In Chinese medicine it has been used for “wind damp” conditions such as muscle spasms and joint pain. It’s considered a chi tonic for the Chinese spleen and kidney, therefore it has been used to improve appetite, relieve low back pain, insomnia, fatigue and anorexia. So, the herb has a lot more potential uses than just treating the effects of stress.
In the late 1980s I heard an amazing “inside story” about eleuthero. I had the opportunity to interview Dr. Bruce Halstead, a famous medical doctor and medical research scientist. He told me that in the earlier days of the space program, our astronauts were quickly shuttled off behind closed doors for what the public was told was a quarantine period. What was really happening is our astronauts were puking their guts out due to space sickness.
Russian cosmonauts, on the other hand, would step out of their space capsules, drink some vodka and join a parade. Dr. Halstead had many friends inside the Soviet Union and was asked if he could discover the cosmonaut’s secret. He learned that the Russian cosmonauts were taking eleuthero and recommended it to the U.S. space program. Our astronauts started taking eleuthero and experienced the same benefits as their Russian counterparts. Now that’s an herb success story you won’t hear on the news.
Eleuthero finds its way into many NSP formulas. It is a key ingredient in the adaptagenic formula AdaptaMax. It is also in the energy-enhancing formula ENERG-V. Other formulas it is found in include Urinary Maintenance, pH GreenZone, Seasonal Defense and MetaboMax. Even if we can’t call it Siberian ginseng anymore, eleuthero root is an incredible ginseng-like tonic which can help us cope with the stresses of modern society.