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Siberian Ginseng

(Last edited: Tuesday, 31 March 2015, 1:05 PM)

GinsengAlso Known As:

Eleuthero Ginseng, Eleutherococcus, Éleuthérocoque, Ginseng,

Scientific Name:

Eleutherococcus senticosus.

Family: Araliaceae. 

People Use This For:

Siberian ginseng is used as an adaptogen, for increasing resistance to environmental stress. It is also used orally for normalizing high or low blood pressure, insomnia, and increasing work capacity, chronic fatigue syndrome, diabetes, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, influenza, swine flu, chronic bronchitis, improving athletic performance, reducing toxicity of chemotherapy, and symptomatic treatment of herpes simplex type II infections. It is also used orally as a general stimulant, diuretic, appetite stimulant, immune system stimulant, and for preventing colds and flu. 


No concerns regarding safety when used orally and appropriately, short-term. Siberian ginseng root extract has been used safely in clinical trials lasting up to 2 months.34,35,36,37,38,39 A specific combination product containing Siberian ginseng plus andrographis (Kan Jang, Swedish Herbal Institute) has also been safely used in multiple short-term clinical trials lasting 4-7 days.40,41,42,43,44,45,46 One clinical trial used this combination product in low doses for up to 3 months.47

There is insufficient scientific information available about the safety of Siberian 

ginseng when used long-term. There is no clinical evidence of adverse effects. 

Pregnancy and Lactation: Refer to a Medical Herbalist.



Common cold. Some clinical research shows that taking a specific combination product containing Siberian ginseng plus andrographis (Kan Jang, Swedish Herbal Institute) orally significantly improves symptoms of the common cold when started within 72 hours of symptom onset. Some symptoms can improve after 2 days of treatment. It typically takes 4-5 days of treatment before there is maximal symptom relief.40,42,43,48,45,49 Some research suggests this combination of Siberian ginseng and andrographis relieves cold symptoms better than Echinacea or placebo in children.50

Herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2). Taking a specific Siberian ginseng extract, standardized to contain eleutheroside 0.3% (Elagen), orally seems to reduce the frequency, severity, and duration of herpes simplex type II infections.34,35


Athletic performance. Taking Siberian ginseng orally doesn't seem to increase speed, quality, and capacity for physical work. A specific Siberian ginseng root liquid extract standardized to eleutherosides B and E content 3.4 mL daily doesn't seem to have any effect on endurance; performance; or psychological, cardiac, or respiratory parameters in trained distance runners.37,51 In trained endurance cyclists, Siberian ginseng 1200 mg per day (Endurox) doesn't seem to have any effect on glycogen, fat utilization, or cycling performance time.52 It also doesn't seem to improve respiration; reduce lactate production; or hasten heart rate recovery during stair-stepping exercise, treadmill, or cyclic ergometry.53,54,55


Chronic fatigue syndrome. Taking Siberian ginseng orally 2 grams/day for 2 months does not reduce symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome to the extent of clinical significance.38 

Cognitive performance. There is preliminary evidence that suggests Siberian ginseng might improve memory and feelings of well-being in middle-aged people.36 

Familial Mediterranean fever. Preliminary clinical research suggests that a combination of Siberian ginseng, andrographis, schisandra, and licorice (ImmunoGuard, Inspired Nutritionals) reduces the duration, frequency, and severity of attacks of familial Mediterranean fever in children.56

Heart disease. There is preliminary evidence that suggests administering Siberian ginseng intravenously might be useful for hyperlipidemia, and arrhythmias.57,58 

Influenza. Preliminary clinical research suggests that patients with influenza who take a specific combination product containing Siberian ginseng plus andrographis (Kan Jang, Swedish Herbal Institute) have symptom relief more quickly compared to patients taking amantadine. Patients who take this combination also seem to have a reduced risk of post-influenza complication such as sinusitis or bronchitis.44 

Ischemic stroke. There is preliminary evidence that suggests administering Siberian ginseng intravenously might be useful for treating acute cerebral infarction.59

Quality of life. Preliminary clinical research shows that Siberian ginseng significantly improves social functioning and mental well-being in people over 65 years of age after 4 weeks of treatment; however, this was not maintained after 8 weeks of treatment.39

More evidence is needed to rate Siberian ginseng for these uses. 

Mechanism of Action:

The applicable parts of Siberian ginseng are the root and leaf. The root, which is most commonly used, contains active compounds referred to as eleutherosides A through M.60 Eleutheroside B (syringin) and eleutheroside E (syringaresinol) are the most plentiful and are used as marker compounds for Siberian ginseng products.61 The eleutherosides include a variety of diverse compounds including saponins (daucosterol, beta-sitosterol, hederasaponin B), coumarins (isofraxidin), lignans (sesamin, syringaresinol), phenylpropanoids (syringin, caffeic acid, sinapyl alcohol, coniferyl aldehyde, protocatechuic acid), betulinic acid, vitamin E, and provitamins like beta-carotene.60 Several constituents including syringin, syringoresinol, sesamin, beta sitosterol, caffeic acid, and coniferyl aldehyde are thought to have antioxidant and possible anticancer effects.60 In addition, there is some evidence that the constituent coniferyl aldehyde protects DNA against breakage caused by ultraviolet light.60 Siberian ginseng root extracts seem to have an antiproliferative effect on leukemia cells and appear to potentiate the effect of antimetabolites such as cytarabine.62 There's also preliminary evidence that suggests it might act as an antioxidant and prevent damage in ischemic stroke.59 Siberian ginseng root, the lignan constituent sesamin, and the phenylpropanoid syringin seem to have immunostimulatory effects.60 Siberian ginseng increases lymphocyte counts and phagocyte activity.63 

Some eleutherosides have structural similarities to cardiac glycosides and can interfere with measurement of serum digoxin levels by some assay methods.64 There is no clinical evidence that Siberian ginseng has any of the pharmacological effects of cardiac glycosides. Siberian ginseng constituents have a variety of other pharmacological effects. Other constituents are also thought to be anti-inflammatory, sedative, diuretic, gonadotropic, estrogenic, protein-anabolic, and stimulate the pituitary-adrenocortical system.65 Siberian 

ginseng root extract seems to inhibit RNA-type viruses including human rhinovirus, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and influenza A virus, but has no effect on DNA viruses such as adenovirus or herpes simplex type 1 virus (HSV-1).66 Polysaccharide derivatives of Siberian ginseng appear to inhibit growth of the tuberculosis bacterium.67 

Adverse Reactions:

No adverse effects are expected if used as recommended.68 

Interactions with Drugs:

Digoxin (Lanoxin).


Interactions with Foods:

None known.

Interactions with Lab Tests:

Digoxin Serum Assay: Siberian ginseng may interfere with some serum digoxin measurements. 


Dr Clare’s Blend: 1 gm per day. 

1-4gms daily

Dr Clare’s Comment.

An "Adaptogen" is a non-medical term used to suggest that a substance can act to strengthen the body and increase general resistance. It is often used to describe the activity of Siberian ginseng.60 Siberian ginseng is a completely different herb than American or Panax ginseng. 

Specific References: GINSENG, SIBERIAN

34.  Williams M. Immuno-protection against herpes simplex type II infection by eleutherococcus root extract. Int J Altern Complem Med 1995;13:9-12.

35.  Vogler BK, Pittler MH, Ernst E. The efficacy of ginseng. A systemic review of randomized clinical trials. Eur J Clin Pharmacol 1999;55:567-75.

36.  Winther K, Ranlov C, Rein E, et al. Russian root (Siberian ginseng) improves cognitive functions in middle-aged people, whereas Ginkgo biloba seems effective only in the elderly. J Neurological Sci 1997;150:S90.

37.  Dowling EA, Redondo DR, Branch JD, et al. Effect of Eleutherococcus senticosus on submaximal and maximal exercise performance. Med Sci Sports Exerc 1996;28:482-9.

38.  Hartz AJ, Bentler S, Noyes R et al. Randomized controlled trial of Siberian ginseng for chronic fatigue. Psychol Med 2004;34:51-61.

39.  Cicero AF, Derosa G, Brillante R, et al. Effects of Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus maxim.) on elderly quality of life: a randomized clinical trial. Arch Gerontol Geriatr Suppl 2004;9:69-73.

40.  Caceres DD, Hancke JL, Burgos RA, et al. Use of visual analogue scale measurements (VAS) to assess the effectiveness of standardized Andrographis paniculata extract SHA-10 in reducing the symptoms of common cold. A randomized, double-blind, placebo study. Phytomedicine 1999;6:217-23.

41.  Thamlikitkul V, Dechatiwongse T, Theerapong S, et al. Efficacy of Andrographis paniculata, Nees for pharyngotonsillitis in adults. J Med Assoc Thai 1991;74:437-42.

42.  Melchior J, Palm S, Wikman G. Controlled clinical study of standardized Andrographis paniculata in common cold- a pilot trial. Phytomedicine 1996;97;3:315-8.

43.  Hancke J, Burgos R, Caceres D, Wikman G. A double-blind study with a new monodrug Kan Jang: decrease of symptoms and improvement in the recovery from common colds. Phytotherapy Res 1995;9:559-62.

44.  Kulichenko LL, Kireyeva LV, Malyshkina EN, Wikman G. A Randomized, Controlled Study of Kan Jang versus Amantadine in the Treatment of Influenza in Volgograd. J Herb Pharmacother 2003;3:77-92.

45.  Gabrielian ES, Shukarian AK, Goukasova GI, et al. A double blind, placebo-controlled study of Andrographis paniculata fixed combination Kan Jang in the treatment of acute upper respiratory tract infections including sinusitis. Phytomedicine 2002;9:589-97.

46.  Coon JT, Ernst E. Andrographis paniculata in the treatment of upper respiratory tract infections: a systematic review of safety and efficacy. Planta Med 2004;70:293-8.

47.  Caceres DD, Hancke JL, Burgos RA, Wikman GK. Prevention of common colds with Andrographis Paniculata dried extract: a pilot, double-blind trial. Phytomedicine 1997;4:101-4.

48.  Melchoir J, Spasov AA, Ostrovskij OV, et al. Double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot and phase 

III study of activity of standardized Andrographis paniculata Herba Nees extract fixed combination (Kan Jang) in the treatment of uncomplicated upper-respiratory tract infection. Phytomedicine 2000;7:341-50.

49.  Poolsup N, Suthisisang C, Prathanturarug S, et al. Andrographis paniculata in the symptomatic treatment of uncomplicated upper respiratory tract infection: systematic review of randomized controlled trials. J Clin Pharm Ther 2004;29:37-45.

50.  Spasov AA, Ostrovskij OV, Chernikov MV, Wikman G. Comparative controlled study of Andrographis paniculata fixed combination, Kan Jang and an Echinacea preparation as adjuvant, in the treatment of uncomplicated respiratory disease in children. Phytother Res 2004;18:47-53.

51.  Asano K, Takahashi T, Miyashita M, et al. Effect of Eleutherococcus senticosus extract on human physical working capacity. Planta Med 1986;175-7.

52.  Eschbach LF, Webster MJ, Boyd JC, et al. The effect of siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus) on substrate utilization and performance. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab 2000;10:444-51.

53.  Dusman K, Plowman SA, McCarthy K, et al. The effects of Endurox on the physiological responses to stair-stepping exercise. Med Sci Sports Exerc 1998;30 Suppl:S323.

54.  Cheuvroni SN, Moffatt RF, Biggerstaff KD, et al. Effects of Endurox on various metabolic responses to exercise. Med Sci Sports Exerc 1998;30 Suppl:S32.

55.  Smerzer KD, Gretebeck PJ. Effect of radix Acanthopanax senticosus on submaximal running peformance. Med Sci Sports Excerc 1998;30 Suppl:S278.

56.  Amaryan G, Astvatsatryan V, Gabrielyan E, et al. Double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized, pilot clinical trial of ImmunoGuard--a standardized fixed combination of Andrographis paniculata Nees, with Eleutherococcus senticosus Maxim, Schizandra chinensis Bail. and Glycyrrhiza glabra L. extracts in patients with Familial Mediterranean Fever. Phytomedicine 2003;10:271-85.

57.  Shang SY, Ma YS, Wang SS. [Effect of eleutherosides on ventricular late potential with coronary heart disease and myocarditis]. [Article in Chinese] Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi 1991;11:280-1, 261.

58.  Shi Z, Liu C, Li R. [Effect of a mixture of Acanthopanax senticosus and Elsholtzia splendens on serum-lipids in patients with hyperlipemia]. [Article in Chinese]. Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi 1990r;10:155-6, 132.

59.  Han L, Cai D. [Clinical and experimental study on treatment of acute cerebral infarction with Acanthopanax Injection]. [Article in Chinese]. Zhongguo Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi 1998;18:472-4.

60.  Davydov M, Krikorian AD. Eleutherococcus senticosus (Rupr. & Maxim.) Maxim. (Araliaceae) as an adaptogen: a closer look. J Ethnopharmacol 2000;72:345-93.

61.  Harkey MR, Henderson GL, Gershwin ME, et al. Variability in commercial ginseng products: 

an analysis of 25 preparations. Am J Clin Nutr 2001;73:1101-6.

62.  Hacker B, Medon PJ. Cytotoxic effects of Eleutherococcus senticosus aqueous extracts in combination with N6-(delta 2-isopentenyl)-adenosine and 1-beta-D-arabinofuranosylcytosine against L1210 leukemia cells. J Pharm Sci 1984;73:270-2.

63.  Szolomicki S, Samochowiec L, Wojcicki J, Drozdzik M. The influence of active components of Eleutherococcus senticosus on cellular defense and physical fitness in man. Phytother Res 2000;14:30-5.

64.  Dasgupta A, Wu S, Actor J, et al. Effect of Asian and Siberian ginseng on serum digoxin measurement by five digoxin immunoassays. Significant variation in digoxin-like immunoreactivity among commercial ginsengs. Am J Clin Pathol 2003;119:298-303.

65.  Medon PJ, Ferguson PW, Watson CF. Effects of Eleutherococcus senticosus extracts on hexobarbital metabolism in vivo and in vitro. J Ethnopharmacol 1984;10:235-41.

66.  Glatthaar-Saalmuller B, Sacher F, Esperester A. Antiviral activity of an extract derived from roots of Eleutherococcus senticosus. Antiviral Res 2001;50:223-8.

67.  Shen ML, Zhai SK, Chen HL, Immunomopharmacological effects of polysaccharides from Acanthopanax senticosus on experimental animals. Int J Immunopharmacol 1991;13:549-54.

68.  Mills S, Bone K. Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy. London: Churchill Livingstone, 2000.

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  Siberian Ginseng

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