Among the Siberian adaptogen herbs, Eleutherococcus that is also known as Siberian ginseng was the first one that was scientifically investigated using modern methods of chemistry, biology, and pharmacology. The first paper about health benefits of eleutherococcus entitled “A New Medicinal Plant of the Family of Araliaceae -The Spiny Eleutherococcus” was published by Professor Israel Brekhman in 1960. Since then, Eleutherocccus remains one of the most widely studied herbal remedy in the research laboratories throughout the world.
Eleutherococcus is commonly known to provide so-called adaptogenic effects. That means it can enhance physical activity and stamina and increase resistance to stress factors including pathogens. However, these effects are quite variable. Some of us may feel much stronger and healthier after only one dose of the eleuthero extract. From the other hand, there are many individuals who actually feel nothing after even a long course of the eleuthero. Beneficial activity of eleutherococcus is often related to the brain functions. Such effects can be barely noted in humans because of their variability and dependence on multiple factors. That is why scientific evidence of such activity is needed. According to the data published in scientific peer-viewed journals, Eleutherococcus exerts many beneficial effects on the human nervous system.
- Improvement of the cognitive functions. Active compounds from eleutherococcus can slightly affect learning, memory, attention, and other functions of the central nervous system. These effects usually observed in animal studies. Clinical trials with humans did not give any significant results confirming the benefits eleutherococcus on the brain functions.
- Emotional stress. Human body can react on emotional stress with elevated blood pressure and accelerated heart rhythm. A complex of the eleutherococcus active compounds can reduce the signs of stress affecting inner brain structures responsible for emotions. This effect is closely related with metabolism of neuropeptide Y. Eleutherococcus stimulates massive release of this peptide resulting in down-regulation of the heart and vessel motor center activity.
- Sleep disorders. Results of the numerous research studies did not show any influence of Eleutheroccocus on the length and structure of sleep patterns in humans. But it was shown that this herb can reduce alterations of the blood system caused by the lack of sleep. It cannot stimulate brain activity and prevent sleepiness. But in the case of the short time for sleep, eleutherococcus may reduce bad consequences of sleep deprivation and protect nervous and cardiovascular systems.
- Brain protection. Eleutherococcus is good remedy for the brain. Today, everyone knows such brain remedies as Ginkgo Biloba or Golden Root, but Eleutherococcus is still forgotten. The results of the research studies evidently show the active compounds contained by roots of the herb such as Eleutherosides B and E directly affect metabolism in brain. They reduce expression of inflammatory factors, prevent oxidative processes in glia cells, strengthen the membranes of neurons. Animal tests showed that mice with brain disorders after injection of eleutherococcus extract performed much better than untreated animals. Generally, their memory was significantly improved. This effect can be considered as a classic adaptogen activity. Healthy animals or humans do not show any alterations of their cognitive functions after eleutherococcus intake. But if these subjects have some problems with nervous system worsening their cognition, eleutherococcus effects become clearly visible.
- Bipolar disorders. Generally, adaptogens cannot be used for treatment of the psychotic diseases like bipolar disorders. And it is even impossible to carry out full scale clinical trials due to the ethical conflict. But in some small-scale clinical observations eleutherococcus extract was supplemented to the standard therapy. The main drug purposed for the treatment of bipolar disorders is lithium and its salts. In clinics, some anti-psychotics usually supplemented lithium prescription. This makes possible to reduce its dose and lower risk of side effects. When eleutherococcus was given instead of anti-psychotic drug, the results were much better: therapeutic effects were greater, and the number of side effects was significantly lower. Due to variability of the effects exerted by eleutherococcus, it is not in use in psychiatric practice. But these results definitely indicate that this herb can affect brain structure, alter metabolic pathways, and improve, even normalize, brain functions.
- Brain activity in elderly. Senior people often suffer from impaired cognitive functions. Their memory is poor, their attention is distracted, their mental capacity is worse than before. Eleutherococcus has shown the good results when it was given to elderly persons. It helps to prevent age-related loss of memory, mental and emotional impairment. That is why this remedy is so popular in Chinese medicine. Chinese people believe that Eleutherocccus can prolong life. And this assumption is related to its neuroprotective activity. If senior persons taking eleutherococcus keep their mind clear and active, this is a good evidence of the great power of this herb, sometimes named Siberian ginseng
Eleutherococcus is a safe and effective herbal supplement for protection of brain functions. It can be taken for a long time with no risk of adverse effects. At the same time, it prevents a lot of damages of brain microstructures caused by physical factors, infections, chemical agents, and even, aging. Prevention is always much better than treatment, and eleutherocccus is a good helper for prevention of brain malfunctions.