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Eleutherococcus

SCIENTIFIC NAME(S):- Eleutherococcus senticosus Maxim. Acanthopanax senticosus Rupr. et Maxim. Hedera senticosa.
Family: Araliaceae

COMMON NAME(S):- Devil's shrub, eleutheroccoc, shigoka, Siberian ginseng, touch-me-not, wild pepper

Eleutherococcus (Siberian ginseng) is the root of Eleutherococcus senticosus, a plant in the ginseng family that is different from true ginseng (Panax).

History

Eleutherococcus has been studied extensively in Russia. It is used as a health food in China, but Asian folk medicine has largely ignored eleutherococcus in favor of its relative, ginseng. As with ginseng, root extracts of the plant have been promoted as "adaptogens" that aid the body in responding to external (eg, environmental) and internal (eg, a disease) stress. The plant extracts have been used to normalize high or low blood pressure, to stimulate the immune system, and to increase work capacity. Reputed effects include increasing body energy levels, protection from motion sickness and against toxins, control of alloxan-induced diabetes, reduction of tumors, and control of atherosclerosis .

Botany :- E.sentieosus belongs to the same family (Araliceae) as Panax ginseng. The geographical distribution of eleutherococcus coincides with the borders of the distribution of P. ginseng. Eleutherococcus is found in forests of broadleaf trees, broadleafs with spruce, and broadleafs with cedar. It grows at elevations of up to 800 m or more above sea level. The plant is a shrub, commonly attaining a height of 2 to 3 m or, less commonly, 5 to 7 m. It possesses gray or grayish-brown bark and numerous thin thorns. The leaves are long-stalked and palmate. Eleutherococcus has male and female forms with globular umbrella-shaped flowers. Male plants produce violet flowers, while female plants have yellowish flowers; the fruit takes the form of black, oval berries. Most commonly, the root is used in herbal medicine; however, it was found that leaves and berries also produce pharmacologically active metabolites. Because it is more abundant than Panox, it has become a popular substitute for ginseng.

Uses of Eleutherococcus

Eleutherococcus is similar to ginseng in its properties and alleged effects. It has been used as a hypotensive, immunostimulant, energy enhancer, and aphrodisiac. Extracts of the roots have been used for a wide variety of therapeutic purposes in which they are said to have an adaptogenic effect. Although preparations from E. sentieosus have been found to be effective against a variety of somatic disorders, the labels on otc preparations do not supply adequate directions for taking the product or clarify the ingredients. In addition, standardization of the active ingredients is not clear. The German Commission E recommends limiting use to 3 months.

Side Effects of Eleutherococcus

Although side effects appear to be rare, eleutherococcus should not be used by patients in febrile states, hypertensive crisis, or those with MI. Use is contraindicated in hypertensive patients. In some individuals it may produce drowsiness or nervousness.

Interactions: Possible assay interference with digoxin may occur; concomitant therapy increased digoxin level to greater than 5 mg/mL without symptoms of toxicity.

Dosage

Talk with your caregiver about how much eleutherococcus you should take. The amount depends on the strength of the medicine and the reason you are taking eleutherococcus. If you are using this medicine without instructions from your caregiver, follow the directions on the medicine bottle. Do not take more medicine or take it more often than the directions tell you to.

Toxicology

There are possible estrogenic effects in females. Side effects, toxicity, contraindications, and warnings similar to those for Panax species (see ginseng) apply. Experience suggests that this product should not be used for people under the age of 40 and that only low doses be taken on a daily basis. Patients are advised to abstain from alcohol, sexual activity, bitter substances, and spicy foods. A void use during pregnancy and lactation. High doses of eleutherococcus are associated with irritability, insomnia, and anxiety. Other adverse effects include skin eruptions, headache, diarrhea, hypertension, and pericardial pain in rheumatic heart patients. Use of eleutherococcus extract has been associated with little or no toxicity. No pathologic, cytotoxic, or histologic changes were noted in mice that ingested infusions of the plant for up to 96 days.In 1 human study, there were no side effects during the 6 months of follow-up. However, use is not recommended for patients in febrile states, hypertensive crisis, or those with MI. Use is contraindicated in hypertensive patients. Rare reported side effects have included slight languor or drowsiness immediately after administration; this may be the result of a hypoglycemic effect of the extract .

Most of the reviewed literature on eleutherococcus suggests that the plant preparations bear minimal toxicity and are fairly safe to use. There was a case in which an eleutherococcus preparation caused severe side effects, but it was later discovered that the preparation did not include eleutherococcus but rather another related species.

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