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If you find yourself feeling spent after hitting the gym or if the changing seasons leave you with low energy, Eleuthero root may be right for you.
You may have heard it called ciwujia, Devil's shrub, shigoka, wild pepper, kan jang, taiga root, Russian ginseng root, or even “touch-me-not.” (The last comes from the toothed leaves on the fresh plant). Its scientific names are Acanthopanax senticosus and Eleutherococcus senticosus.
Native to Russia, China, Japan, Korea, and Siberia, Eleuthero thrives in colder climates.
Wait, what’s the difference between all the ginsengs?
If you were to type “ginseng” into your search engine you’d see results for “panax ginseng,” “American ginseng,” “Asian ginseng,” “true ginseng,” and who knows what else! People call Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng) and American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) “true ginseng.” They are related to each other.
Ginseng is one of the most popular herbal supplements and is probably the most studied herb for athletic performance[*].
Some people find Eleuthero the most stimulating of the ginsengs.
Eleuthero uses in traditional medicine
This tonifying root is used in herbal medicine more to maintain good health rather than treat a condition. In traditional Chinese medicine it is sometimes used to invigorate the body and support the immune system.
Eleuthero as an adaptogen
Adaptogens are naturally occurring, non-toxic substances that can help protect your body from stress by stabilizing and optimizing a host of physiological functions[*].
Rather than serving a single targeted purpose, an adaptogen will (ahem) adapt its healing properties to whatever your body specifically needs at a given time.
Because they are so (ahem again) adaptable, adaptogens can have a number of positive effects on your body. Among other benefits, adaptogens have been shown to:
Minimize fatigue and improve focus and endurance in the face of fatigue[*]
Promote overall wellness[*]
Protect your body from stress[*]
Eleuthero was the first official adaptogen approved in Russia. All adaptogens that were named following it had to meet this criteria: They must be safe for long-term use, non-toxic, and non-habit forming.
They must have a non-specific effect on the body — in other words, they must help a variety of bodily systems and help the body defend against a variety of stressors including physical, chemical, and biological factors.
They must help normalize system functions and maintain a state of homeostasis or overall balance
Eleuthero for athletic performance
Traditionally Eleuthero has been used to support stamina. As an adaptogen, Eleuthero is known to fight fatigue[*]. Hello, better energy levels!
A small double-blind study found that a daily dose of 800 milligrams for 8 weeks may help to support endurance athletic performance[*]. There’s also potential that it may affect your VO2Max, something my endurance friends are always looking for[*].
Eleuthero for immune system supportAs an adaptogen, Eleuthero shows potential for stimulating your immune system and supporting its strength[*][*]. Immunomodulating herbs are very exciting to me and I can’t wait to see where this research goes next.
How to use Eleuthero
I get asked frequently how Eleuthero tastes. To me, it tastes a bit bitter and a little funky. You can find dried Eleuthero root most commonly as a tea or capsule. Although it can be sold alone, it is most commonly blended with other herbs and adaptogens into a tonic.
You’ll find organic Eleuthero extract in all flavors of Plant-based Protein, Chaga Elixir, Adaptogen Immune Support, Mushroom Coffee with Chaga, Adaptogen Blend, Ground Adaptogen Coffee with Ashwagandha, and Instant Adaptogen Coffee with Ashwagandha.
Standard doses of Eleuthero are 300–1200 milligrams. Traditionally you’ll see up to 4000 milligrams recommended by herbalists for certain conditions.
I haven’t experienced any directly energizing effects of Eleuthero and find it easy to drink any time of day. As an adaptogen it will adapt to whatever your body needs. I’d recommend trying it first in the morning to make sure it doesn’t make you feel too energized. I love using it daily to help support my overall wellbeing and immune system.