Eleutero is a folk remedy for neuroses, overfatigue, general weakness, for relieving stress, increasing visual acuity and hearing.

Latin Name: Eleutherococcus senticosus

Common Names: Siberian ginseng, eleuthero, ciwujia, Devil's shrub, shigoka, touch-me-not, wild pepper, or kan jang

Family: Araliaceae

Genus: Eleutherococcus

Part used: root, leaves, rhizomes 

Botanical information: shrubby plant reaches a height of 3-5 m, sometimes 7 m. The stem ramifies poorly and is covered with spines, small leaves of five-membered compound leaves resemble cherry leaves. The compact yellow flowers are collected in spherical inflorescences; fruits are black and aromatic.

Distribution Area: It grows in Korea, Japan, northeast China and the Russian Far East.


Most often roots and rhizomes of this shrub plant are used for medicinal purposes. They are harvested in autumn. The roots contain many useful active substances, for example eleutherosides, or, as they are also called, glycosides. It is thanks to them that eleutherococcus has so many useful properties. Concomitant substances are essential oils (up to 0.8% of dry mass), starch, lipids, gums, vegetable wax, coumarin derivatives, resins, glucose, pectin and tannic compounds. In autumn, before the leaf fall, they reach a maximum concentration. The leaves contain vitamin C, oleic acid and beta-carotene.

The dried roots and rhizomes contain many physiologically important constituents. These include saponins, oils and phytosterol, carbohydrates sugars, organic acids, nitrogenous substances, amino acids and peptides, vitamins and minerals, and certain enzymes. No alkaloids are detected.


Eleutherococcus has the following pharmacological actions:

  • Nonspecific antistress effects
  • Adaptogenic
  • Ergogenic Anabolic/anticatabolic
  • Antitoxic
  • Radioprotective
  • Chemoprotective
  • Immunoprotective
  • Immunoregulatory
  • Antiviral
  • Gonadotrophic
  • Antidiabetic
  • Neuroprotective

Useful properties of siberian ginseng are used for medicinal purposes. Its purpose:

  • Increase of immunity with frequent colds.
  • Prevention of influenza in the off-season.
  • Recovery after surgery or lingering illness.
  • For the prevention of atherosclerosis and treatment at the initial stage.
  • With asthenia or mental fatigue.
  • After a long and intense physical activity.
  • With vegeto-vascular dystonia.
  • Improvement of appetite.
  • With hypotension and arrhythmia.
  • At the initial stage of diabetes mellitus for the normalization of blood sugar levels.
  • In the complex treatment of oncological diseases in combination with other drugs: reduces the side effects of chemotherapy.
  • Female infertility (including those associated with insufficient development of reproductive organs), violations of menstruation cycle and complications of climacteric syndrome.
  • Increase potency and prevent prostate adenoma.
  • With hair loss and the initial form of alopecia.
  • For the treatment of dental diseases (gingivitis and stomatitis).
  • For the prevention of diseases of the stomach, liver and urinary system.

Therapeutic properties of Eleutherococcus:

Eleutherosides favorably effect human health. They improve metabolism, help breaking down fats and converting carbohydrates into energy, reduce the concentration of "bad cholesterol" and normalize the level of hemoglobin in the blood.

  • Adaptogenic properties help the body better coping with the bacteria and viruses; increase immunity and activate human forces to deal with stressful situations. This is especially true in the off-season, when the risk of getting sick with flu or cold increases.
  • Toning properties improve the emotional and physical state of a person; contribute disappearing of melancholy, apathy, depression, nervousness and irritability. Therefore, medications based on eleutherococcus are often used in psychiatry to prevent exacerbations, reduce their severity and duration. Systematic use increases the tone of the body and reduces fatigue.
  • Stimulating properties of plants increase the capacity for work and endurance of a person; help to cope with mental overwork, overcome severe physical and psycho-emotional stress. The use of this herb positively affects the brain activity, which in turn, improves perception, hearing, vision, smell and touch.
  • Restoring properties accelerate tissue healing and rehabilitation in the postoperative period. Therefore, eleuthero is often used to treat external surgical sutures, light wounds, abrasions and bruises.


Moderate interaction with alcohol:

Alcohol can lead to tiredness and somnolence as well as eleuthero. Simultaneous taking of huge doses of eleuthero and alcohol can strengthen the feeling of sleepiness.

Moderate interaction with Digoxin (Lanoxin):

Digoxin slows and strengthens heart contractions, enabling the heart to pump more blood with each beat. During testing, one person had large quantity of digoxin in the body, while he was taking natural supplements with eleuthero in it. However, it is uncertain and there are no strong proofs of eleuthero or other herbs of the supplement being the reason.   

Moderate interaction with Lithium:

Eleuthero has a diuretic effect. Its consumption has an impact on the process of getting rid of the lithium from the body. The lithium quantity can become greater and leads to high-priority side effects. Consult a doctor, perhaps you will need to change a dosage of lithium. 

Moderate interaction with Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 1A2 (CYP1A2) substrates) and (Cytochrome P450 2C9 (CYP2C9) substrates):

Such medications as clozapine (Clozaril), cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril), fluvoxamine (Luvox), haloperidol (Haldol), imipramine (Tofranil), mexiletine (Mexitil), olanzapine (Zyprexa), pentazocine (Talwin), propranolol (Inderal), tacrine (Cognex), theophylline, zileuton (Zyflo), zolmitriptan (Zomig), and others, are altered and destroyed by the liver. Eleuthero can lessen the process of breaking some medications down by the liver. Concurrent consumption of eleuthero and listed medications can intensify the effectiveness as well as side effects of these medications. Before taking eleuthero be sure to consult a doctor if you take any medications which changed by the liver. The same precautions has simultaneous taking of eleuthero and amitriptyline (Elavil), diazepam (Valium), zileuton (Zyflo), celecoxib (Celebrex), diclofenac (Voltaren), fluvastatin (Lescol), glipizide (Glucotrol), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), irbesartan (Avapro), losartan (Cozaar), phenytoin (Dilantin), piroxicam (Feldene), tamoxifen (Nolvadex), tolbutamide (Tolinase), torsemide (Demadex), warfarin (Coumadin), and others.

Moderate interaction with Medications for diabetes (Antidiabetes drugs):

Eleuthero has an effect of reducing as well as rising blood sugar level of the body. Diabetes medications such as glimepiride (Amaryl), glyburide (DiaBeta, Glynase PresTab, Micronase), insulin, pioglitazone (Actos), rosiglitazone (Avandia), chlorpropamide (Diabinese), glipizide (Glucotrol), tolbutamide (Orinase), and others, have decreasing pressure properties. Thereby contemporaneous using of eleuthero and listed medications can decrease your blood sugar to the life-threatening rate or lessen the effectiveness of the medications for diabetes. Observe the level of blood sugar vigilantly. First, consult a doctor, perhaps the dosage of your diabetes medications need to be altered.

Moderate interaction with Medications that slow blood clotting (Anticoagulant / Antiplatelet drugs):

Eleuthero can decelerate blood clotting. Simultaneous taking of eleuthero and antiplatelet medications such as aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix), diclofenac (Voltaren, Cataflam, others), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others), naproxen (Anaprox, Naprosyn, others), dalteparin (Fragmin), enoxaparin (Lovenox), heparin, warfarin (Coumadin), and others can rise the risks of bruising and bleeding. Before using, consult a doctor.

Moderate interaction with Sedative medications (CNS depressants):

Eleuthero can cause tiredness and somnolence as well as sedative medications such as clonazepam (Klonopin), lorazepam (Ativan), phenobarbital (Donnatal), zolpidem (Ambien), and others. Concurrent using of the eleuthero and listed medications can be the reason of a strong feeling of sleepiness. Before using, consult a doctor.

Minor Interaction with Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 2D6 (CYP2D6) substrates) and Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 3A4 (CYP3A4) substrates):

Such medications as amitriptyline (Elavil), clozapine (Clozaril), codeine, desipramine (Norpramin), donepezil (Aricept), fentanyl (Duragesic), flecainide (Tambocor), fluoxetine (Prozac), meperidine (Demerol), methadone (Dolophine), metoprolol (Lopressor, Toprol XL), olanzapine (Zyprexa), ondansetron (Zofran), tramadol (Ultram), trazodone (Desyrel), and others, are altered and destroyed by the liver. Eleuthero can lessen the process of breaking some medications down by the liver. Concurrent consumption of eleuthero and listed medications can intensify the effectiveness as well as side effects of these medications. Before taking eleuthero be sure to consult a doctor if you take any medications which changed by the liver. The same precautions has simultaneous taking of eleuthero and lovastatin (Mevacor), ketoconazole (Nizoral), itraconazole (Sporanox), fexofenadine (Allegra), triazolam (Halcion), and many others.


Not everyone can appreciate the useful properties of eleuthero, since there are contraindications. If you have some kind of chronic disease, it is advisable to consult a doctor before use.

  • The allergy to eleutherococcus is rare, but still occurs. If a strange rash, nasal congestion or any other signs of an allergy have developed after use, you should immediately stop taking it, and if you feel unwell, you should immediately go to the hospital.
  • Women should make a pause in taking eleuthero during menstruation. Eleuthero can increase nervousness in the first days of menstruation.
  • It is impossible to apply this herbal remedy during pregnancy and lactation.
  • Children under 12 years are not allowed to drink the medications from eleuthero, which contains alcohol.
  • Insomnia is also considered to be a contraindication, because the remedy has a strong toning effect. For the same reason, it is desirable to take the drug in the morning, so that in the evening there would be no problems with sleeping.
  • Preliminary consultation of taking eleuthero medications with the attending physician is obligatory when having arterial hypertension and atherosclerosis.
  • Having chronic heart diseases, it is also better to talk with a specialist first, because the tonic properties of eleuthero can cause heart palpitations.
  • You cannot take these medications with a high temperature, because they accelerate metabolic processes in the body, and therefore leads to increased body temperature.
  • It is forbidden to use any medications based on eleuthero during infectious diseases in acute stage, after myocardial infarction and in cerebral vascular pathology.

Even if you have not found contraindications, strictly follow the dosage. If it is exceeded, there may be some side effects:

  • increased anxiety
  • sleep problems
  • diarrhea
  • irritability


Roots of the eleuthero are considered to be medical parts more often than leaves. Extracts, infusions, tablets, herbal tea, decoctions, creams, balms and other products are produced from them.

Eleuthero is believed to support adrenal gland function when the body is challenged by stress. It enhances physical capability and stamina and stimulates mental work ability (quality of work). The leaf extract is more effective in mental and physical stimulation, while the root extract is more effective at sustaining performance over a long period of time. The leaf is also more effective for balancing blood insulin and glucose levels than the root. Using the leaf and root extract together appears to be more effective than either one used alone.

“The wish for healing has always been half of health”

Lucius Annaeus Seneca

*This article is for informational purposes only. We suggest consulting with a physician before using these or any other herbal supplements.