Potential Health Benefits of Eleuthero

Eleuthero capsules and tincture

Verywell / Anastasia Tretiak

Eleuthero is a woody shrub that's native to northeast Asia. Eleuthero has a scientific name of Eleutherococcus senticosus (E. senticosus). It is also known as Siberian ginseng—even though it's not a "true" ginseng plant. Examples of actual ginseng plants include American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) and Panax ginseng.

Furthermore, the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 (also known as the Farm Bill) made it illegal to use the term “Siberian ginseng” and any other use of the word “ginseng” for a product unless the product is an herb in the genus Panax.

Eleuthero may have potential adaptogenic effects. This means that eleuthero may help your body respond better to stressors. Eleuthero contains numerous plant chemicals, such as the eleutherosides, triterpenoid saponins, and flavones. And these plant substances are likely responsible for how eleuthero works.

This article discusses what you should know about eleuthero—its potential uses, side effects, and interactions.

Dietary supplements are not regulated the way drugs are in the United States, meaning the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not approve them for safety and effectiveness before products are marketed. When possible, choose a supplement tested by a trusted third party, such as the U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP), ConsumerLab.com, or NSF International. 

However, even if supplements are third-party tested, they are not necessarily safe for all or effective in general. Therefore, talk to a healthcare provider about any supplements you plan to take and ask about potential interactions with other supplements or medications.

Supplement Facts

  • Active ingredients (s): Eleutherosides, triterpenoid saponins, and flavones
  • Alternative name(s): Eleuthero, Eleutherococcus senticosus, E. senticosus, Siberian ginseng, Acanthopanax senticosus, A. senticosus, Russian ginseng, devil's shrub, touch-me-not, wild pepper, Shigoka, Ci-wu-ja
  • Legal status: The Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 made it illegal to use the term “Siberian ginseng” and any other use of the word “ginseng” for a product unless the product is an herb in the genus Panax.
  • Suggested dose: May vary based on the specific dosage form and medical condition
  • Safety considerations: Likely safe for up to three months in adults, up to six weeks in teenagers; possible side effects and medication interactions; special considerations during pregnancy and while breastfeeding

Uses of Eleuthero

Supplement use should be individualized and vetted by a healthcare professional, such as a registered dietitian, pharmacist, or healthcare provider. No supplement is intended to treat, cure, or prevent disease.

As with many natural products, more extensive research is necessary. But people might use eleuthero for various reasons.

Viral Infections

A 2020 review reported the benefits of eleuthero as a prophylactic (preventive) medication during influenza (flu) epidemics. These clinical trials suggest that eleuthero may decrease mortality (death) rates and complications from the flu. Examples of complications may include pneumonia (fluid in the lungs from a lung infection), bronchitis (swollen lung airways), and otitis (ear infection).

Another review of older studies stated eleuthero may decrease complications and mortality rates in people with viral lung infections.

In addition to helping with viral lung infections, eleuthero has been cited with lowering the number of genital herpes outbreaks, according to the National Library of Medicine (NLM).

While research sounds promising, additional, larger research is still necessary to better assess eleuthero's effects.


In one study, researchers divided 57 people with knee osteoarthritis (wear-and-tear arthritis) into two groups, as follows:

  • Placebo (a substance with no medicine in it)
  • Treatment with a mixture of three herbs, including eleuthero

In this small six-week clinical trial, both groups took two capsules by mouth twice daily. In the treatment group, each capsule contained 400 milligrams (mg) of the herbal mixture.

By the study's end, the herbal mixture group reported less pain and better knee function when compared to the placebo. But more research with larger and longer-term clinical trials is still necessary to better assess the herbal mixture's safety. These future studies may also help determine if the herbal mixture can prevent or treat osteoarthritis. Additional research will also assist in evaluating the effects of each herb, including eleuthero.

High Cholesterol

Eleuthero may help cut high cholesterol, according to a small study.

In the clinical trial, there were 40 postmenopausal people assigned female at birth. These study participants were assigned to receive either calcium or calcium plus eleuthero for six months.

Based on the study results, participants taking calcium plus eleuthero had significant decreases in low-density lipoprotein (LDL) (considered "bad" cholesterol) levels.

What's more, there were fewer signs of lymphocyte (a type of white blood cell) DNA damage. There were also fewer markers, or substances in the blood, that point to oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is a condition in which there are not enough naturally occurring antioxidants in your body to attack what are known as free radicals. Free radicals are substances that can damage things—like DNA.

Although the results appear promising, additional, extensive research with larger and longer-term clinical trials is still necessary.

What Are the Side Effects of Eleuthero?

As with many medications and natural products, side effects are possible with eleuthero.

Common Side Effects

There is little information about eleuthero's common side effects. But it's generally well-tolerated. When taken by mouth, common side effects may include:

Based on the small study in people with knee osteoarthritis, some other common side effects may also include:

In this clinical trial, however, a group of study participants took a mixture of three herbs, including eleuthero. For this reason, it's difficult to determine if eleuthero was responsible for all of these side effects or if the other two herbs factored in.

Severe Side Effects

No serious side effects were noted for eleuthero in a study of people with knee osteoarthritis.

However, a severe allergic reaction is a serious side effect possible with any medication. If you're having a severe allergic reaction to eleuthero, you may experience symptoms breathing difficulties, itchiness, and rash.

Call 911 and get medical help immediately if you're having a severe allergic reaction or if any of your symptoms feel life-threatening.


A healthcare provider may advise against using eleuthero if any of the following applies to you:

Severe allergic reaction: If you have a severe allergic reaction to eleuthero or its components (ingredients or parts), you should not take this medication.

Pregnancy: According to the NLM, there's limited information about the effects and safety of eleuthero on the unborn fetus, despite there being a few eleuthero product labels that target pregnant people. Reach out to a healthcare provider to discuss the benefits and risks before taking eleuthero during your pregnancy. They may recommend avoiding eleuthero.

Breastfeeding: There is limited information about the effects and safety of eleuthero on breastfeeding parents and nursing infants. In general, it seems to be well-tolerated. There are a few eleuthero product labels that target breastfeeding people. But there have also been reports of breast tenderness and bleeding risk. Eleuthero may also raise blood pressure and blood sugar.

Since more information is necessary on eleuthero, contact a healthcare provider to discuss the benefits and risks before taking eleuthero. They may recommend avoiding eleuthero.

Children: There is limited data on the effects and safety of eleuthero on nursing infants, and there are likely no eleuthero product labels that target infants. However, there are product labels that target children.

As mentioned in a 2020 review article, there are few clinical trials with children as participants, but in some studies, eleuthero decreased the mortality (death) and complication rates in children with viral lung infections. According to the NLM, six weeks of eleuthero is also possibly safe for teenagers between 12 and 17 years old.

Since more reliable information is necessary, talk with a healthcare provider if you're considering eleuthero for your child.

Older adults over 65 years: Older adults participated in some eleuthero-related clinical trials, but these studies were small. Moreover, some older adults may have a higher likelihood of medication side effects. For this reason, people in this age group should take eleuthero with caution.

Heart-related conditions: Eleuthero may raise blood pressure. If you have a heart-related condition, a healthcare provider may want to monitor you closely and make any necessary medication adjustments.

Diabetes: Eleuthero may raise blood sugar. If you have diabetes (high blood sugar), a healthcare provider may want to closely monitor you and make any necessary medication adjustments.

Bleeding conditions: Eleuthero may increase the risk of bleeding. If you have a bleeding condition, healthcare providers may want to avoid eleuthero. A bleeding condition—like von Willebrand disease (VWD)—will further increase the likelihood of heavy bleeding with certain medications, such as eleuthero. VWD is a condition that runs in families. People with VWD have a problem with their von Willebrand protein that prevents the blood from clotting appropriately.

Breast cancer: For certain types of breast cancer, endocrine (hormone) therapy is typically used after surgery. This is to prevent these types of breast cancer from coming back. Since eleuthero might have some estrogen-like effects and may interfere with endocrine therapy, the healthcare provider might want to avoid it.

Eleuthero capsules
Verywell / Anastasia Tretiak

Dosage: How Much Should I Take Eleuthero?

Always speak with a healthcare provider before taking a supplement to ensure that the supplement and dosage are appropriate for your individual needs.

While there are some studies on eleuthero in humans, more, high-quality clinical trials are still necessary. For this reason, there are no guidelines on the appropriate dosage to take eleuthero for any condition.

If you choose to take eleuthero, follow a healthcare provider's recommendations or label instructions.

What Happens If I Take Too Much Eleuthero?

There is little information about eleuthero toxicity and overdoses in humans. But according to the NLM, taking eleuthero for up to six weeks is typically safe for teenagers. For adults, it's usually safe to take for up to three months.

Symptoms of overdoses with eleuthero are likely similar to its potential common and serious side effects—but excessive and severe. Other possible eleuthero toxicity side effects may also include:

And since some eleuthero products might contain other herbs, side effects from these other herbs are also possible.

If you suspect you're experiencing life-threatening side effects, seek immediate medical attention.


In general, there is limited information about possible medication interactions with eleuthero. Most data are based on eleuthero's potential uses, case reports, and laboratory studies.

Use caution when taking eleuthero with the following:

Blood pressure medications: Eleuthero may raise your blood pressure. It may work against your blood pressure medications, such as Zestril (lisinopril). Healthcare providers may want to monitor you closely and adjust your medications accordingly.

Blood thinners: Eleuthero might increase your risk of bleeding. This may have additive effects with other blood thinners, worsening bruising and bleeding side effects. Jantoven (warfarin) is an example of a blood thinner.

Cytochrome P450 (CYP450) substrate medications: CYP450 is a family of proteins in the liver. They're responsible for breaking down medications.

Based on animal studies, eleuthero has blocked CYP2C9 and CYP2E1 proteins. So, these proteins will be less efficient at breaking down certain medications—like warfarin. This will likely result in a buildup of certain medications and increase the risk of side effects, such as bleeding or bruising in the case of warfarin.

Cholesterol medications: Eleuthero may lower cholesterol. This may have additive effects with other cholesterol medications, potentially raising the risk of side effects. Examples of cholesterol medications are statin drugs.

Diabetes medications: Eleuthero may raise blood sugar levels. Therefore, it may work against your diabetes medications, such as insulin. Healthcare providers may want to monitor you closely and adjust your medications accordingly if you take eleuthero with diabetes drugs.

Heart rhythm medications: Digoxin is heart rhythm medication, which is also sometimes used in heart failure. Eleuthero may increase digoxin levels, raising your risk of side effects. Healthcare providers may want to monitor you closely and adjust your medications accordingly.

Hormone therapy: Eleuthero has shown some estrogen-like activity. For this reason, eleuthero may interact with endocrine (hormone) therapy for certain types of breast cancer, menopausal hormone therapy, and hormonal birth control.

Immune-modifying drugs: Eleuthero may affect the immune system (the body's defense system against germs). For this reason, eleuthero might interact with other medications that affect the immune system, including immunosuppressant drugs like Humira (adalimumab).

It is essential to carefully read a supplement's ingredients list and nutrition facts panel to learn which ingredients are present and how much of each ingredient is included. Please review this supplement label with a healthcare provider to discuss potential interactions with foods, other supplements, and medications. 

How to Store Eleuthero

Since storage instructions may vary for different natural products, carefully read the directions and packaging label on the container. Keep your medications tightly closed and out of the reach and sight of children and pets, ideally locked in a cabinet or closet. Store in a cool and dry place.

Discard after one year or as indicated on the packaging. Avoid putting unused and expired medicines down the drain or in the toilet. Visit the FDA website to learn where and how to discard all unused and expired medicines. You can also find disposal boxes in your area.

Ask a pharmacist or healthcare provider any questions you have about how to dispose of your medications or supplements.

Similar Supplements

Eleuthero may have potential uses for viral infections, osteoarthritis, and high cholesterol. Other similar supplements include:

  • Avocado/soybean unsaponifiables (ASU): According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), ASU may help relieve osteoarthritis symptoms. But more safety data is necessary.
  • Flaxseed: A potential use of flaxseed is lowering cholesterol, but study results are mixed.
  • Red yeast rice: Some red yeast rice products have a substance called monacolin K that may lower cholesterol. Other red yeast rice products have very little monacolin K, but it's hard to determine how much. It's also unclear if there is any effect on cholesterol with red yeast rice products that have little monacolin K. For these reasons, it's difficult to know whether red yeast rice lowers cholesterol in general.
  • Vitamin C: Regularly taking vitamin C—even when you're well—may decrease the severity and duration of your cold symptoms if you get a cold.
  • Zinc: If you take zinc within 24 hours of a cold, zinc may reduce the number of days you experience symptoms.

Do not combine multiple natural products until you first talk with a healthcare provider or pharmacist. Checking in can help you avoid possible interactions and side effects and ensure you're giving these supplements a fair trial at appropriate doses.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the most common dosage form of eleuthero?

    Eleuthero is available in a few different dosage forms—with capsules being the most common.

  • Are any eleuthero products made in the United States?

    Yes. There are eleuthero products made by U.S. manufacturers.

  • Does eleuthero have any health benefits?

    Dried fruits of eleuthero are rich in the following minerals: calcium, manganese, magnesium, zinc, and copper.

  • How is eleuthero different from other ginsengs?

    In general, eleuthero and other ginsengs are from the official Araliaceae family. But eleuthero is from the Eleutherococcus genus (group) of the family, and the other ginsengs are from the Panax group.

    So, while eleuthero is sometimes known as Siberian ginseng, it isn't a "true ginseng" plant. Moreover, eleuthero may have many plant chemicals but doesn't have ginsenosides as active chemicals like the true ginsengs.

  • How do I take eleuthero safely?

    In general, to safely take natural products—like eleuthero—inform a healthcare provider and pharmacist of other medications you take. This includes over-the-counter (OTC) herbal, natural medications, and supplements.
    They can help prevent possible interactions and side effects. They can also ensure you’re giving eleuthero a good trial at appropriate doses.

Sources of Eleuthero & What to Look For

There are different sources of eleuthero.

Food Sources of Eleuthero

Eleuthero comes from a woody shrub. You can eat the dried fruits of eleuthero, and eleuthero may also be available as tea.

Eleuthero Supplements

Eleuthero comes in several forms, including capsules and tablets. If you have difficulties swallowing pills, Eleuthero might also be available in the following dosage forms:

  • Liquid
  • Powder
  • Tea bags

Vegetarian and vegan options might also be available. You may also see eleuthero in combination with other herbs.

Your specific product will depend on your preference and what you hope to get in terms of effects. Each product may work a bit differently, depending on the form. So, following a healthcare provider's recommendations or label directions is essential.


Eleuthero is a woody shrub from the Eleutherococcus genus (group) of the Araliaceae family. Eleuthero is also sometimes known as Siberian ginseng, but it's not a "true ginseng" plant from the Panax group of the Araliaceae family.

It might be used for viral infections, osteoarthritis, and high cholesterol. But similar to many medications and natural products, side effects and medication interactions are still possible.

Additional higher-quality, longer-term, and larger clinical trials are still necessary to better assess the effectiveness and safety of eleuthero. Before taking eleuthero, involve a pharmacist or healthcare provider to help you safely achieve your health goals.

21 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.
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Additional Reading

By Ross Phan, PharmD, BCACP, BCGP, BCPS
Ross is a writer for Verywell with years of experience practicing pharmacy in various settings. She is also a board-certified clinical pharmacist and the founder of Off Script Consults.