Siberian ginseng is closely related to the most famous Chinese herb — panax ginseng — but is believed to be more mild. As an "adaptogen," it may help our bodies adapt to whatever life throws at us: herbalists call Siberian ginseng a "normalizing" or "restorative" agent and suggest it automatically goes wherever the body needs support.
Other names for Siberian Ginseng
ciwujia, touch-me-not, devil's shrub, ci wu ju, eleuthero, Eleutherococcus senticosus, eleuthero
Where to find Siberian Ginseng
Siberian ginseng is often grown in Southeast Russia and Northern China, Korea, and Japan, with the root and underground stem being used for medicinal purposes.
Why athletes use Siberian Ginseng
Ginseng is most frequently used by people who are feeling fatigued, rundown, worn out, or simply under stress to elevate mood and protect the mind and body. While athletes tend to include this herb in their regimens to help prevent mental and physical fatigue and build endurance and increase energy, it's likely to be more beneficial when used to help the body recover from stressful events than to lift performance to the next level.
Ways that Siberian Ginseng can enhance Energy & Endurance:
- Increase the uptake and absorption of oxygen and improve circulation
- Regulate blood sugar and support stable energy levels
Ways that Siberian Ginseng can enhance Mental Functioning:
- Protect against stress as well as mental and physical fatigue
Signs of Siberian Ginseng deficiency
No deficiency conditions are known to exist.
Potential uses for Siberian Ginseng
Research indicates that Siberian Ginseng may be useful in the treatment of:
More about Siberian Ginseng
Though not quite as old, Siberian ginseng is closely related to the most famous Chinese herb — panax ginseng. It has many similar properties but is believed to be more mild, although only slightly, than its cousin. Ginseng is an herb that symbolizes health, strength, and long life for many. It is called an "adaptogen," which basically means it may help our bodies adapt to whatever life throws at us. Thus, Siberian ginseng's been used throughout history to promote energy and vitality along with helping with cold and flu relief.
Because ginseng may help increase the absorption of oxygen, improve oxygen use, increase circulation, and fine-tune our bodies' ability to regulate blood sugar, researchers theorized that it could help improve both physical and mental performance, especially during intense training sessions, as well as allow athletes to exercise longer and recover faster. However, this adaptogen hasn't lived up to their hopes as a performance herb. In fact, studies regarding its effects on athletic performance have been weak, with many concluding it has no performance-enhancing benefits whatsoever. So, while it might help you through some stressful periods, it's not likely to help launch your performance to the next level.
Relieve stress and support immune function
As a "universal remedy," the list of what ginseng may help with is a long one, though many of its potential benefits are related to its effects on the immune system, its ability to fight free radicals, and especially its potential to reduce the harmful effects of stress.
You see, ginseng in general has been shown to improve the body's resistance to stress by balancing our natural "stress hormones" and encouraging the adrenal glands to function optimally. In a number of studies, ginseng has been shown to help the body cope with extreme physical or mental stress, with people reporting they felt less tired and stressed, more energized, and better able to "cope." Its mild stimulating effects also appear to help relieve fatigue. In addition, it may help reduce the possibility of stress-related illnesses.
Siberian ginseng has also been shown to help protect against the damage caused by radiation exposure. Because ginseng both restores and fortifies the body, damaged tissues are encouraged to heal. It was, in fact, used extensively in Russia after the Chernobyl radiation spill with positive results.
As the popularity of ginseng grows, the list of effects is sure to grow as well. Today, our bodies are forced to endure excessive stress, environmental toxins, poor nutrition, and many other hazards. So it's not surprising we're looking for something to help restore balance and build resistance to disease. This much is certain, with the trends toward nutritional options for improving health, we'll continue to hear a lot more about herbs such as Siberian ginseng.
Typical amounts range from 300 to 500 mg per day in capsule form or 8 to 10 ml per day, divided into 2 to 3 doses, when using the tincture. Dried powder is also typically used at 2 to 3 grams per day.
Athletes interested in increasing energy and endurance supplement with 500 mg a half hour before eating 3 times daily; however, the research has not been conclusive as to how effective Siberian ginseng may be for this purpose.
Siberian ginseng is supplemented before meals two to three times daily.
Experts suggest you supplement with Siberian ginseng for only six to eight weeks and then give your body a break for one or two weeks to avoid the buildup of the herb in your body, which can decrease its effectiveness.
Because Siberian ginseng may be stimulating, some experts suggest avoiding other stimulants, such as caffeine, when supplementing with Siberian ginseng.
Because of the growing interest in ginseng, it can now be found in gum, candy, tea, and even soft drinks. However, most of these products contain little or no ginseng, and the ginseng they do contain is most likely panax ginseng, not Siberian ginseng.
Synergists of Siberian Ginseng
No synergists have been noted.
Safety of Siberian Ginseng
A small number of individuals may experience mild, short-lasting diarrhea.
Siberian ginseng is not recommended for people with very high blood pressure.
Excessive amounts of Siberian ginseng may cause insomnia when taken too close to bedtime.
Siberian ginseng can be used by pregnant or breastfeeding women. However, it is important to be sure it is Siberian ginseng — all other ginsengs are not recommended for use during pregnancy or breastfeeding.
Individuals suffering from hypertension (high blood pressure) should watch dosage intake due to ginseng's abilities to raise blood pressure.
Drugs that interact with Siberian Ginseng
When supplementing with Siberian ginseng, insulin should be monitored due to the blood sugar increasing potential of ginseng.
Toxicity of Siberian Ginseng
None documented at suggested dosages.
Bans and restrictions
- Asano, K., et al., "Effect of Eleutherococcus senticosus Extract on Human Physical Working Capacity," Planta Med 3 (1986) : 175-7.
- Engels, H.J., and Wirth, J.C., "No Ergogenic Effects of Ginseng (Panax Ginseng C.A. Meyer) During Graded Maximal Aerobic Exercise," J Am Diet Assoc 97.10 (1997) : 1110-5.
- Morris, A.C., et al., "No Ergogenic Effect of Ginseng Ingestion," Int J Sport Nutr 6.3 (1996) : 263-71.
- Pieralisi, G., et al., "Effects of a Standardized Ginseng Extract Combined with Dimethylaminoethanol Bitartrate, Vitamins, Minerals, and Trace Elements on Physical Performance During Exercise," Clin Ther 13.3 (1991) : 373-82.
- Dowling, E.A., et al., "Effect of Eleutherococcus senticosus on Submaximal and Maximal Exercise Performance," Med Sci Sports Exer 28.4 (1996) : 482-9.