Eleuthero root: you might have heard of it. It’s supposedly the “King of all Adaptogens” - you can also find it labeled as Siberian Ginseng in your local herbal apothecary. Traditional Chinese Medicine has been using it as an herbal remedy for some 2,000 years. It’s an adaptogen, which means that it helps your body balance the reaction to stress. But, it acts in other ways by stimulating the nervous system to combat fatigue, protect the brain from harm, and improve athletic performance. In fact, back in the 1970s, eleuthero was used by Soviet Olympic athletes to increase stamina and endurance. So what’s the big deal with this adaptogenic root?
Potential Health Benefits
As an herbal remedy, eleuthero root has been used to treat everything from fatigue to elevated stress levels. Though less popular than Asian ginseng (Panax Ginseng), it shares some common effects. However, scientific evidence is often only done on animals and can resultantly be a bit conflicting.
1. Increasing Physical Endurance:
One study noted that eleuthero root increased anaerobic running capacity, possibly by reducing fatigue. More research is needed to support the possibility that eleuthero might improve physical performance during high-intensity exercises, but while this effect can’t be proven yet, it also can’t be disproven.
2. Protection Against Cognitive Decline
A few studies have noted that daily consumption of eleuthero root led to improvements in cognitive function in elderly populations. Improvements in social functioning and some aspects of mental health were noted, though much more research is needed to confirm this effect.
3. Increase Fat Burning
It's been shown by a few studies that eleuthero increases fat oxidation during exercise. Paired with this increase in fat oxidation, researchers noticed that otherwise healthy individuals were able to increase their fatigue resistance.
Interestingly, another study noted that rats given eleuthero over a period of 12 weeks experienced a reduction in weight gain for both diabetic and normal rats.
4. Fatigue Resistance
A water extract of eleuthero stem was given to a population of mice that were subjected to swimming for long periods of time. In this study, eleuthero appeared to have anti-fatigue effects, Several other studies have shown that this anti-fatigue effect seems to be related to Eleutheroside E - and this effect is actually comparable to Panax Ginseng.
Though we were uncertain as to whether or not to include fatigue resistance in this list at all - the studies seem to be a mixed batch, with some being better designed while others lack robust statistical effects (i.e. small sample sizes). Either way, note that we cannot confirm or deny that eleuthero helps with fatigue resistance.
5. Sleep Support
Eleutheroside E, an active component of eleuthero root, was shown to aid function in sleep deprivation.
Eleuterosides B and E, both active components of Eleuthero root, showed protective effects in the brain for neurons damaged by amyloid β (i.e. the protein that is the main component in Alzheimer’s disease).
Other active compounds in eleuthero have been shown to play an important role in protecting the brain against neuroinflammation, which is a side effect of diseases such as depression. Many, many other studies such as this one and this one have shown this effect as well.
One study noted that supplementation of eleuthero root led to reduced protein carbonyl content of immune cells, which can be thought of as an indicator for longevity in the scientific community. They also found that supplementation in postmenopausal women led to less observed DNA damage over time.
Interestingly, another study observed a 10-20% life extension for C. Elegans (think: a little nematode). Though we should note that much more research is needed to prove that Siberian Ginseng can, in fact, improve longevity.