Eleutherococcus senticosus

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Eleutherococcus senticosus
Eleutherococcus senticosus.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Apiales
Family: Araliaceae
Genus: Eleutherococcus
Species: E. senticosus
Binomial name
Eleutherococcus senticosus
(Rupr. & Maxim.) Maxim.[1]
  • Acanthopanax asperatus Franch. & Sav.
  • Acanthopanax senticosus (Rupr. & Maxim.) Harms
  • Eleutherococcus asperatus (Franch. & Sav.) Koidz.
  • Hedera senticosa Rupr. & Maxim.

Eleutherococcus senticosus is a species of small, woody shrub in the family Araliaceae native to Northeastern Asia. It is often colloquially referred to as Siberian ginseng, eleuthero or ciwujia. E. senticosus has a history of use in traditional Chinese medicine where it is known as cì wǔ jiā (刺五加).[1]


E. senticosus has been marketed in the United States as Siberian Ginseng because it is believed to have similar herbal properties to those of Panax ginseng. However, it belongs to a different genus in the family Araliaceae, and it is currently illegal in the United States to market eleuthero as Siberian Ginseng, since the term "ginseng" is reserved for the Panax species.[3]


The herb grows in mixed and coniferous mountain forests, forming low undergrowth or is found in groups in thickets and edges. E. senticosus is sometimes found in oak groves at the foot of cliffs, very rarely in high forest riparian woodland. Its native habitat is East Asia, China, Japan, and Russia. E. senticosus is broadly tolerant of soils, growing in sandy, loamy, and heavy clay soils with acid, neutral, or alkaline chemistry and including soils of low nutritional value. It can tolerate sun or dappled shade and some degree of pollution. E. senticosus is a deciduous shrub growing to 2m at a slow rate. It is hardy to zone 3. It flowers in July in most habitats. The flowers are hermaphroditic and are pollinated by insects.[4]

Ethnomedical use[edit]

Eleutherococcus senticosus leaves

E. senticosus is a thought to be an adaptogen and there is a wide range of health benefits attributed to its use in herbal medicine.[5]

Eleutherococcus senticosus is also gaining popularity in the homeopathic community for easing cessation pains from certain substances (physical and/or psychological dependence on psychoactive substances e.g. marijuana).[6]

In Chinese herbology, E. senticosis is used by people with bone marrow suppression caused by chemotherapy or radiation, angina, hypercholesterolemia, and neurasthenia with headache, insomnia, and poor appetite.[7][8][9]


Extracts of E. senticosus have been shown to have a variety of biological effects in vitro or in animal models, but these effects have not been demonstrated in humans:

  • increased endurance/anti-fatigue [10]
  • memory/learning improvement[11]
  • anti-inflammatory [12]
  • immunogenic[13]
  • antidepressant-like effects in rats[14][15]

Chemical constituents[edit]

The major constituents of E. senticosus are ciwujianoside A-E, eleutheroside B (syringin), eleutherosides A-M, friedelin, and isofraxidin.[3]

Interactions and side effects[edit]

  • People with medicated high blood pressure should consult their doctor before taking E. senticosus because it may potentiate the medications' side effects.[16]
  • E. senticosus, when purchased from non-GMP sources, has occasionally been adulterated with Periploca graeca, which can potentiate digoxin or similar drugs; however, this is not an interaction of E. senticosus.[3]


  1. ^ a b c "Eleutherococcus senticosus information from NPGS/GRIN". www.ars-grin.gov. Retrieved 2008-03-04. 
  2. ^ "The Plant List: A Working List of All Plant Species". 
  3. ^ a b c [unreliable source?]Winston, David & Maimes, Steven (2007). Adaptogens: Herbs for Strength, Stamina, and Stress Relief. Healing Arts Press. 
  4. ^ "Eleutherococcus senticosus". Plants for a Future. Retrieved 2013-01-16. 
  5. ^ Huang L, Zhao H, Huang B, Zheng C, Peng W, Qin L. (2011). "Acanthopanax senticosus: review of botany, chemistry and pharmacology". Pharmazie 66 (2): 83–97. 
  6. ^ Alan J. Budney, Roger Roffman D.S.W., Robert S. Stephens, and Denise Walker (2007). "Marijuana Dependence and Its Treatment: US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health". US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health 4 (2): 14–16. 
  7. ^ Halstead B, Hood L (1984). Eleutherococcus senticosis–Siberian Ginseng, OHAI. p.7.
  8. ^ Chen JK, Chen TT. Chinese Medical Herbology and Pharmacology, Art of Medicine Press, City of Industry, CA 2004
  9. ^ David Winston. Native American, Chinese, and Ayurvedic Materia Medica, HTSBM, pp. 1-1
  10. ^ Huang L.-Z., Huang B.-K., Ye Q., Qin L.-P. (2011). "Bioactivity-guided fractionation for anti-fatigue property of Acanthopanax senticosus". Journal of Ethnopharmacology 133 (1): 213–219. 
  11. ^ Xu Y.J., Han C.J., Xu S.J., Yu X., Jiang G.Z., Nan C.H. "Effects of Acanthopanax senticosus on learning and memory in a mouse model of Alzheimer's disease and protection against free radical injury to brain tissue" Neural Regeneration Research 2008 3:2 (192-195)
  12. ^ Jung S.M., Schumacher H.R., Kim H., Kim M., Lee S.H., Pessler F. "Reduction of urate crystal-induced inflammation by root extracts from traditional oriental medicinal plants: Elevation of prostaglandin D2levels" Arthritis Research and Therapy 2007 9:4 Article Number R64
  13. ^ Chen R., Liu Z., Zhao J., Chen R., Meng F., Zhang M., Ge W. (2011). "Antioxidant and immunobiological activity of water-soluble polysaccharide fractions purified from Acanthopanax senticosu [sic]". Food Chemistry 127 (2): 434–440. 
  14. ^ Kurkin VA, Dubishchev AV, Ezhkov VN, Titova IN, Avdeeva EV (2006). "Antidepressant activity of some phytopharmaceuticals and phenylpropanoids". Pharmaceutical Chemistry Journal 40 (11): 614–9. doi:10.1007/s11094-006-0205-5. 
  15. ^ Deyama T, Nishibe S, Nakazawa Y (December 2001). "Constituents and pharmacological effects of Eucommia and Siberian ginseng". Acta Pharmacol. Sin. 22 (12): 1057–70. PMID 11749801. 
  16. ^ McRae, S. (1996). "Elevated serum digoxin levels in a patient taking digoxin and Siberian ginseng". CMAJ : Canadian Medical Association journal = journal de l'Association medicale canadienne 155 (3): 293–295. PMC 1487979. PMID 8705908. 

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