6 Benefits of Siberian Ginseng + How to Use It
6 Benefits of Siberian Ginseng + How to Use It
A staple in traditional Chinese medicine, Eleutherococcus senticsus or “Siberian ginseng” is native to Southeast Russia, Northern China, Japan, and Korea. Used for thousands of years, the root of this woody shrub continues to be studied based on its health-boosting effects.
Whether you are interested in increasing energy levels, improving cognition, or would like to support your bone health, Siberian ginseng may be the solution. If you are interested in taking this unique adaptogen, then this is the guide for you!
The History of Siberian Ginseng
While you may be aware of ginseng, it’s important to note that Siberian ginseng is much different than American (Panax quinquefolius) or Asian (Panax) ginseng. Not only are they grown in different regions, but each of these medicinal herbs also offers unique properties based on varying chemical compounds. In fact, Siberian ginseng is not directly related to Panax or American ginseng.
The plant itself is a shrub that grows to approximately two meters and is highly tolerant of rather harsh conditions. The roots of this plant are utilized in order to extract beneficial constituents, including lignans, phenylpropanes, beta-sitosterol, and more. The berries are also often used, as they offer a rich and diverse source of polyphenols — which are micronutrients that provide antioxidant benefits.
The extracts taken from the root of Siberian ginseng have been used in traditional medicine as an adaptogenic herb. This term was actually first introduced into modern scientific literature after Nikolay Lazarev, a Russian toxicologist, first studied the nonspecific resistance associated with Siberian ginseng back in 1957.
However, the connection to Siberia began before this adaptogenic discovery. Following the Second World War, the former Soviet Union was studying Siberian ginseng in order to find a beneficial remedy that would help soldiers facing harsh weather and stressful circumstances. In fact, prior to the collapse of the Soviet Union, it was stated that nearly 1,000 studies were conducted on this beneficial plant.
Today, Siberian ginseng is in high demand, supporting both mental and physical wellness. Based on ongoing research, it continues to be one of the most popular supplements in the United States — especially among those interested in natural health, as well as those in the nootropics community.
6 Benefits Associated with Siberian Ginseng
Although researchers aren’t exactly sure how Siberian ginseng works, it is believed to have a significant effect on your immune cells and nervous system. These benefits have been known and utilized for centuries. However, scientists have only recently begun to understand its true mechanisms of action.
After studying it in the late 1950s, the Russians discovered that it was an adaptogen, meaning it promotes adaptation in the body. Whether a stressor is physical or environmental, it can help the body adjust while encouraging internal balance. This leads us to the first benefit and most well known.
1. Siberian ginseng is an adaptogen, supporting optimal health
Belonging to a special class of herbs and plants, Siberian ginseng is an adaptogen. In fact, it is often referred to as the “king” adaptogen. This means that it has the ability to promote balance while restoring and protecting the body. Based on its unique properties, Siberian ginseng can benefit individuals who are healthy or sick — especially when various stressors are of particular concern.
As stated above, after the discovery of the adaptogenic properties of Siberian ginseng in 1957, research continued in regards to the characteristics associated with an adaptogen. These characteristics now include a substance that is nontoxic, normalizing, nonspecific in regards to its mechanism of action, and is also stress-relieving. Based on these properties, other herbal substances have joined this category, including Rhodiola.
Related: How to Combat Stress with Rhodiola
Helping users maintain homeostasis in the presence of stress, Siberian ginseng specifically impacts your HPA axis, formally known as the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. Involving the hypothalamus, pituitary glands, and adrenal glands, this axis is linked to your hormonal response to stress.
Although the relationship between Siberian ginseng and stress can benefit people of all ages, it specifically supports those over the age of 50, as it helps counteract age-related changes in the body and the stresses associated with those physiological changes.
2. Helps fight colds and the flu
Based on Siberian ginseng’s adaptogenic properties, it was also commonly used to fight the common cold and flu. Researchers believe that by supporting your immune system, you can fight off flu and cold symptoms more easily. Throughout history, this root was mainly used to prevent respiratory infections, as well as colds and the flu.
It has also been found that Siberian ginseng contains eleutherosides, which appear to offer immune-boosting effects. In one double-blind study, it was found that Siberian ginseng reduced the length and severity of colds when taken within 72 hours of symptoms starting.
3. Promotes mental alertness
Known to improve mental and physical stamina, some users agree that Siberian ginseng is similar to caffeine but without any resulting post-consumption crash. This is why Siberian ginseng remains of great interest among those who study chronic fatigue syndrome.
This condition can greatly affect your quality of life, which is why herbal treatments are so important. As stated in The Clinician’s Handbook of Natural Medicine, Siberian ginseng is believed to support the adrenal glands, increasing the activity associated with natural killer and T-helper cells, making it a valuable option for those living with chronic fatigue syndrome.
4. May boost athletic performance
Based on the available research, it is said that Siberian ginseng may help improve athletic performance. With its ability to boost immune function, it’s believed that this herbal treatment can reduce the risk of post-exercise damage.
Once again, these findings were first expressed by Soviet researchers, as they found that Siberian ginseng enhanced performance, all while strengthening the body during times of physical stress. Since then, Siberian ginseng has shown mixed results. However, it is well understood that this remedy has the potential to improve oxygen metabolism, improving working capacity and athletic performance.
5. Potentially acts as a neuroprotectant
While studying Siberian ginseng, researchers have found that it has the ability to help the body recycle choline so that greater concentrations of acetylcholine can be synthesized in the hippocampus. Since this neurotransmitter has a profound effect on memory, it has been studied as a potential therapeutic option for those living with Alzheimer’s.
In this review, published in the Journal of Natural Medicines, extracts of Siberian ginseng were also shown to offer protective effects, regenerating the constructions of synapses in rats with damaged neurons.
6. May support bone health
It has been found that when aiming to prevent osteoporosis, a combination therapy that contained low doses of vitamin D, calcium, glutinosa (alder), and Siberian ginseng was more effective than taking high doses of vitamin D and calcium alone. This combination was shown to prevent decreases in bone mineral density.
Another 2013 study Siberian ginseng in relation to a rat model of osteoporosis. After being treated for eight weeks, the femur bone mineral density among those receiving 100 mg/k, once daily, was significantly higher than the control group. In fact, it was 16.7 percent higher without affecting their body, organs, or estrogen levels.
How to Take Siberian Ginseng
Based on its wide range of beneficial applications, Siberian ginseng can now be obtained in capsule, tablet, tincture, or even in pure root form. Often combined with other herbs and/or nutrients, doses range based on the desired effect.
Before you take this supplement, be sure to speak with your healthcare provider, as it has been shown to lower blood sugar and slow down the rate in which blood clots. Like most supplements on the market, Siberian ginseng products will vary in terms of their potency and overall concentration.
It’s imperative that you select a supplement that offers high-quality ingredients, with an approximate 0.08 percent standardization of eleutherosides.
If you’re looking for a beneficial multi-vitamin that can help you target a wide range of mental and physical processes, be sure to check out our in-depth approach. After all, John Ruskin said it best, “Quality is never an accident. It is always the result of intelligent effort.”