Herbs & Botanicals
Siberian Ginseng (wu jia shen)
What is Siberian ginseng? What is it used for?
Siberian ginseng is somewhat different in appearance than its Asian or American counterparts. The Siberian ginseng bush grows between 3-10 feet high, with a main stem and long branches covered by thorns. Yellow or violet flowers grow in clusters on the plant, which turn into round, black berries. As with the American and Asian varieties, the root of Siberian ginseng is used medicinally.
Siberian ginseng root contains a vibrant mixture of chemicals called eleutherosides. These substances have been shown to boost the immune system and lower blood sugar levels in animal studies.
Perhaps Siberian ginsengs best-known function is that it helps the body fight stress. Several studies have shown it to improve capillary function, ameliorate resistance to disease and fatigue, and increase stamina and concentration.
How much Siberian ginseng should I take?
The recommended dose of Siberian ginseng is 2-3 grams of dried root daily, which can be taken in tea or capsule form. Patients may also take tinctures (5ml three times daily) or extracts (2-4ml one to three times daily).
What forms of Siberian ginseng are available?
Both fresh and dried Siberian ginseng root can be found in Asian markets and some health food stores. It can also be found in liquid and solid extracts, capsules, and tinctures. Make sure to purchase standardized products that contain at least one percent eleutheroside F.
What can happen if I take too much Siberian ginseng? Are there any interactions I should be aware of? What precautions should I take?
The American Herbal Products has given Siberian ginseng a class I rating, meaning it is safe when taken as directed. However, it should be avoided by patients who are pregnant or have high blood pressure. In addition, Siberian ginseng may increase the effects of caffeine or other stimulants, which may cause sweating, insomnia, or an irregular heartbeat. It should not be used in conjunction with antipsychotic medications, steroids or hormones. As with all dietary supplements, consult with a health care provider before taking ginseng products.
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- Chubarev VN, Rubtsova ER, Filatova IV, et al. Immunotropic effect of a tincture of the tissue culture biomass of ginseng cells and of an eleutherococcus extract in mice [in Russian]. Farmakol Toksikol 1989;52(2):5559.
- Foster S. Siberian Ginseng (eleutherococcus senticosus). Austin, TX: American Botanical Council, 1990.
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