What Is Eleuthero?

Siberian Ginseng May Relieve Cold Symptoms, Boost Energy

Eleuthero capsules and tincture

Verywell / Anastasia Tretiak

Eleuthero (Eleutherococcus senticosus) is a medicinal herb said to offer a wide range of health benefits. Although it is also referred to as "Siberian ginseng," eleuthero does not belong to the same family as "true" ginseng, which includes Korean or Asian ginseng and American ginseng. Eleuthero is available as a dietary supplement and sometimes used in skincare products.

What Is Eleuthero Used For?

Eleuthero is thought to act as an adaptogen, a class of herbs that supposedly boost the body's resistance to stress. Proponents claim that eleuthero can also help with these health conditions:

In addition, eleuthero is sometimes used to improve athletic performance, boost the immune system, and ease the side effects of chemotherapy.

To date, research on the health effects of Siberian ginseng is fairly limited. However, some studies suggest that eleuthero shows promise in the treatment of certain conditions, including:


Eleuthero is possibly effective for cold relief when taken in combination with the herb Andrographis, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). A 2004 study of 130 children published in Phytotherapy Research found that an herbal formula containing eleuthero and Andrographis helped reduce cold duration and severity when treatment was started at the early stages of the cold.


Eleuthero may help improve mental performance in people with mild, stress-induced fatigue, according to a 2009 research review published in Current Clinical Pharmacology.

Additionally, a 2004 study from Psychological Medicine found that eleuthero might benefit people with "moderate fatigue." However, the study also found that eleuthero was not effective for people with severe fatigue. The study involved 96 people with fatigue, each of whom received either eleuthero or a placebo for two months.


For a 2009 study published in The Korean Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology, researchers assigned 57 patients with osteoarthritis of the knee to six weeks of daily treatment with either a placebo or an herbal formula containing eleuthero, Panax ginseng, and Chinese foxglove. By the study's end, those had received the herbal formula showed greater improvement in pain and physical functioning (compared to those who had taken the placebo). However, it's not known whether eleuthero on its own can help manage osteoarthritis.

High Cholesterol

Eleuthero may help cut high cholesterol, according to a small study published in Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications in 2008. For the study, 40 postmenopausal women were assigned to receive either calcium or calcium plus eleuthero for six months. Study results revealed that those who were given calcium plus eleuthero experienced significant decreases in LDL cholesterol and certain markers of oxidative stress (a destructive biological process linked to many major health problems, including heart disease and cancer).

Possible Side Effects

Although eleuthero is likely safe when used in the short term, it may trigger a number of side effects including insomnia, headache, nervousness, upset GI tract, and diarrhea.

It's also important to take caution when using Siberian ginseng if you have high blood pressure, a heart condition, diabetes, a hormone-sensitive condition (such as breast cancer or uterine fibroids), or a mental condition (such as mania or schizophrenia). In these cases, the NIH recommends avoiding the use of eleuthero or using eleuthero only under your healthcare provider's supervision.

Not all supplements are tested for safety and due to the fact that dietary supplements are largely unregulated, the content of some products may differ from what is specified on the product label. Also keep in mind that the safety of supplements in pregnant women, nursing mothers, children, and those with medical conditions or who are taking medications has not been established.

Eleuthero capsules
Verywell / Anastasia Tretiak

Dosage and Preparation

There is not enough scientific evidence to establish an appropriate dose of eleuthero. In studies investigating the herb's effects on colds, 400 mg of a combination treatment (Siberian ginseng plus a specific andrographis extract) standardized to contain 4-5.6 mg andrographolide was taken three times daily.

The correct dose for you may depend on factors including your age, gender, and medical history. Speak to your healthcare provider for personalized advice.

What to Look For

The NIH warns that eleuthero products often contain adulterants—other ingredients that do not contribute to the benefit of the product. Silk vine is a common adulterant of eleuthero, according to the NIH.

To avoid adulterants, read product labels carefully or ask your health-care provider to recommend an eleuthero product to you.

It's also important not to confuse eleuthero with other types of ginseng commonly used in herbal medicine, such as Panax ginseng and American ginseng.

If you're considering the use of Siberian ginseng in the treatment of a chronic condition, make sure to consult your healthcare provider before starting your supplement regimen.  Self-treating a condition and avoiding or delaying standard care may have serious consequences.

7 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Hou JP. Traditional Chinese Medicine Records of Medical Benefits of Ginseng and Siberian GinsengThe Healing Power of Ginseng. January 2019:137-152. doi:10.1201/9780429489112-15

  2. 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 childrenPhytotherapy Research. 2004;18(1):47-53. doi:10.1002/ptr.1359

  3. Panossian A, Wikman G. Evidence-Based Efficacy of Adaptogens in Fatigue, and Molecular Mechanisms Related to their Stress-Protective ActivityCurrent Clinical Pharmacology. 2009;4(3):198-219. doi:10.2174/157488409789375311

  4. Hartz AJ, Bentler S, Noyes R. Randomized controlled trial of Siberian ginseng for chronic fatiguePsychological Medicine. 2004;34(1):51-61. doi:10.1017/s0033291703008791

  5. Park S-H, Kim S-K, Shin I-H, Kim H-G, Choe J-Y. Effects of AIF on Knee Osteoarthritis Patients: Double-blind, Randomized Placebo-controlled StudyThe Korean Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology. 2009;13(1):33. doi:10.4196/kjpp.2009.13.1.33

  6. Lee YJ, Chung H-Y, Kwak H-K, Yoon S. The effects of A. senticosus supplementation on serum lipid profiles, biomarkers of oxidative stress, and lymphocyte DNA damage in postmenopausal womenBiochemical and Biophysical Research Communications. 2008;375(1):44-48. doi:10.1016/j.bbrc.2008.07.097

  7. Lee N-H, Son C-G. Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials Evaluating the Efficacy and Safety of GinsengJournal of Acupuncture and Meridian Studies. 2011;4(2):85-97. doi:10.1016/s2005-2901(11)60013-7

Additional Reading

By Cathy Wong
Cathy Wong is a nutritionist and wellness expert. Her work is regularly featured in media such as First For Women, Woman's World, and Natural Health.