Feeling tired lately? It’s been an exciting year so far and that can leave us feeling more drained than usual. Even good stress is tiring. There are a few things that may help to improve our energy levels, physical and mental performance, and help us cope with stress. There is also one amazing herb that can help with all of these things and more. That herb is Eleuthero.
Eleuthero, Eleutherococcus senticosus, used to be known by the name Siberian Ginseng. Even though it has similar properties to American Ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) or True Ginseng (Panax ginseng), it’s not related and so the common name of Siberian Ginseng has been replaced with the name Eleuthero. It’s a powerful herb that is native to the Taiga region of the Far East. This region extends from the southeastern part of Russia, through northern China, Korea, and down to Japan where it has been used medicinally for thousands of years. In fact, there has been evidence uncovered of its use in China over 2,000 years ago.
Though not as extensively studied in the modern arena, Eleuthero is one of the most well-documented herbs in traditional herbal medicine. It is used in traditional Eastern medicines for fatigue, stress, forgetfulness, inflammation, and as a sleep aid.
Eleuthero is so prized in these traditions that a famous Chinese doctor is quoted as saying: “I would rather take a handful of Eleuthero than a carload of gold and jewels.” Even in Russia, Eleuthero is prized for its healing properties. In Russia the herb is called “shigoka” and is used as a tonic herb for building strength and supporting the immune system.
Eleuthero is most often used as an adaptogen. Adaptogens are a classification of herbs that help our bodies adapt to stress so that we are more capable of handling stressful situations. It won’t prevent stress from happening, but it will help to improve our ability to deal with stress. This is particularly important for people who may be feeling overwhelmed by their jobs, study, or even current events. However, it also has stimulating properties that make it a highly sought out herb for both mental and physical performance enhancement. In recent years, this herb has become highly valued by athletes for its ability to boost energy, increase metabolism, sharpen mental concentration, and help improve strength and stamina.
Stimulant AND a sleep aid
This helpful herb is a gentle stimulant that helps to boost energy levels, improve circulation, and increase mental function, especially when stress-induced fatigue is involved. However, one benefit of this herb that may seem out of the ordinary is that it makes a great sleep aid. It’s highly valued in Traditional Chinese Medicine where it’s the main ingredient in several sleep aid formulas. One reason for this is that Eleuthero has the ability to flush out excessive stress hormones, which may be keeping you awake at night or negatively impacting the quality of sleep you have been getting. The benefit of this property though is that you get the energizing effects of the stimulant without it negatively impacting your sleep like caffeine and other stimulants can do.
Photo from article on Eleuthero and fertility
Eleuthero also has quite a few other health benefits. It’s a beneficial herb for immune support and can help to prevent infections such as the flu or pneumonia. It also has been used to help support cancer patients, especially those with lung cancer, during their treatments. Also, since it improves circulation, this herb can help prevent heart disease. It also helps to stimulate healthy digestion and improve health overall. As an added bonus, it can also function as an aphrodisiac for some people because it stimulates the adrenals and sex hormone production.
Just be a little cautious with it if you have hypertension as it can increase blood pressure slightly.
The most commonly used part of this herb is the root, which has a slightly pungent flavor and a slightly bitter aftertaste. Because of this, I tend to brew it with a bit of honey or raw sugar. For a more concentrated and beneficial tea, add Eleuthero root to the water and bring it to a boil. Allow it to boil for about 10 minutes before straining and adding your sweetener (or any other herbs like lemon balm or mint). However, you can brew it like a normal tea if you just want a mild effect. Also, keep in mind that the benefits of this herb are greatly improved with regular use. This might be a good one to add to your daily routine.
I like pairing it with other herbs or tea blends to get the most of the effect that I’m after. If I want a stimulating effect, I’ll brew it with some ginger or lemon. Sometimes I’ll brew a cup of Know Your Gut, Trust Your Gut with a pinch of Eleuthero for added digestive benefits. If I want to use it as a sleep aid, I’ll add it to a calming blend. Try adding a little pinch to You, Me, and Uni’s Meditative State of Mind to help you relax before bed. You can also choose to simply brew Eleuthero by itself and drink it at any time since it won’t negatively impact your sleep cycle.
At the beginning of this article, I mentioned that Eleuthero used to be known as Siberian Ginseng due to its similar properties but that it’s actually not a relative of any of the ginsengs. You can find evidence of True Ginseng or American Ginseng being used in a similar fashion, however, these two herbs are often much more expensive. This is because they cannot be farmed and they grow very slowly. These two properties have put Ginseng on the endangered list in America and unfortunately, poaching has become an issue. If you choose to use Ginseng, please make sure your herb is sustainably harvested to avoid habitat destruction and to help keep these amazing herbs around for future generations.
You, Me, and Uni
Trust Your Gut, Know Your Gut and Meditative State of Mind can be purchased through Amazon. For more information on You, Me and Uni, check out the website, created by Master Herbalist, Jennifer Vollbrecht. Browse the herbal tea articles on the site for more tips on adding delicious tea to your healthy lifestyle.
Anastacia Elizabeth Walden is a writer, editor, and owner of Walden Writes For Women.