Siberian ginseng, (Eleutherococcus senticosus) is a thorny shrub grown in the cold climates of the Far East.
The Chinese refer to Siberian ginseng as Ci Wu Jia (Acanthopanax senticosus) and originally was used as an inexpensive substitute for true panax ginseng. Siberian ginseng’s reputation to increase the body’s resistance to stress and promotion of general vitality furthered its development into an excellent herb on its own behalf.
In Chinese literature, Siberian ginseng is reported to enhance sexual function and relieve mental stress.
Besides the usual assortment of proteins and carbohydrates found in most plants, ginseng contains many important ingredients.
These compounds include antioxidants, saponins, polysaccharides, fatty acids and vitamins. Several substances have been isolated from Siberian ginseng, which Russian investigators have extensively studied.
The active constituents (saponins) are considered adaptogenic. An adaptogen is a substance that lacks toxicity and produces a non-specific normalizing action. The substances were termed eleutherosides since they were extracted from the Eleutherococcus species in a form bound to sugar molecules.
The eleutherosides have been categorized as A through M. Standardized extracts are based on the concentration of eleutheroside E. Extracts containing 0.5% of eleutheroside E represent pharmaceutical grade Siberian ginseng.
The variations in the numerous eleutherosides account for its adaptogenic activity. Many studies conducted on animals and humans demonstrate that Siberian ginseng exerts a wide range of pharmacological effects
Most cellular reactions are regulated through the binding of a hormone or neurotransmitter to receptors located on cell membranes.
Most enzymes systems are turned on through the binding of one set of receptors or turned off via binding with another. The capacity to preferentially bind with one set of receptors is determined by the chemical uniqueness among the eleutherosides.
Adaptogenic substances, under varying conditions have been shown to reduce the effects of stress by a complex set of actions.
Whether all or none of these effects takes place is a matter of individual metabolism. The unpredictability of adaptogenic herbs is due to the multitude of chemical constituents that target different receptors in the body. Combinatorial theories hold that the plant molecules that are variable can produce opposing actions and would require a switch. A metabolic trigger based on chemical uniqueness and the receptor associated with it.
The unpredictability of herbs in general contributes to its lack of acceptance by organized medicine.
1. Possess the ability to stimulate the ACTH-cortisol system.
2. Possess an ability to lower blood pressure when abnormally elevated.
3. Produce reduction in blood sugar levels.
4. Possess the ability to exert an overall tranquilizing effect on the central nervous system.
5. Possess the propensity to inhibit the alarm phase of the fight or flight response.
The effect of Eleutherococcus senticosus is achieved through a combination of energy enhancement, hormone modulation and regulation of nucleic acid and protein metabolism.
In addition to its resistance to stress and over excitement, Siberian ginseng is advantageous to athletes since its results in better utilization of glycogen stores and high-energy phosphate bonds, the depletion of which is believed responsible for fatigue.
Furthermore, the products of glycolysis (lactic and pyruvic acids) are thought to undergo a more complete oxidation during exercise when eleutheroside E is present.
Eleutherosides are also theorized to inhibit RNA polymerase during periods of stress, and accelerate RNA polymerase activity (increase protein synthesis) during rest intervals. Eleutherococcus extracts are thought to reduce the disease processes that cause atherosclerosis and hypertension.
The return to normal of both hypertensive and hypotensive individuals following treatment with Siberian extracts, demonstrates the ability of ginseng to normalize pathological conditions regardless of the direction of stress.
Studies indicate that Siberian ginseng improves the body’s ability to adapt to the increased physical demands of training and competition without producing an unwanted cardio-stimulatory effect.
It has been stated that individuals receiving pharmaceutical therapy should take ginseng only after consulting with their doctor.