The hardy qualities of eleuthero seem to make it an effective stress reliever.
Eleuthero is an Asian shrub believed to carry many health benefits. As an adaptogen, it may help with stress through:
- Reducing stress-related fatigue. Eleuthero seems to be a natural anxiolytic that minimizes stress-caused fatigue.
- Boosting immunity. Chronic stress can damage the immune system.
Hailing from Northeastern Asia, eleuthero (Eleutherococcus senticosus) is a woody shrub that finds its home in mountainous forests or at the foot of cliffs. The tough nature of eleuthero allows it to tolerate difficult conditions such as sandy soils or excessive heat.
In traditional Chinese and Russian medicine, eleuthero is believed to impart a wide range of health benefits, including enhancing mental performance as a nootropic, improving exercise intensity, boosting immunity, and combating fatigue.1 In recent years eleuthero has also been used for stress relief.
How Eleuthero May Help With Stress
The precise mechanism behind eleuthero’s ability to relieve stress is currently unknown.
The most bioactive components of eleuthero are likely the phenolic compounds syringin and eleutheroside E, which are involved in anti-stress, anti-inflammatory, and hepatoprotective activities3, and isofraxidin, which may have anti-fatigue and immuno-modulating effects.4
A possible explanation contributing to the anti-fatigue action of eleuthero is that it may reduce natural killer (NK) cell activity and inhibit corticosterone elevation, both of which increase during stress.5
Eleuthero Benefits & Uses for Stress
Eleuthero is reported to have multiple benefits when it comes to handling stress, making it one of the more popular adaptogens in Russia.
In traditional eastern medicine it is mainly used to combat physical and mental fatigue caused by stress, as well as to remedy all sorts of ailments, such as inflammation, ulcers, fevers, and flu.
Eleuthero supplements are also frequently marketed as ideal for people working in high-stress situations, such as sailors, divers, and miners. Even astronauts are said to have used it to improve stamina.
Eleuthero seems to work best on its own. In one study examining the impact of adaptogens on stress, integrating the three adaptogenic herbs Eleutherococcus senticosus, Rhodiola rosea, and Schisandra chinensis into one formula did not have a significantly different effect from placebo.6
Animal studies have found that eleuthero may reduce stress by:
- Increasing stress tolerance. Mice taking eleuthero had elevated levels of superoxide dismutase (SOD) and glutathione peroxidase (GSH-PX), which may be the reason for increased hypoxia tolerance.7
- Reducing anxiety. Swine were found to have reduced transportation anxiety when taking eleuthero.8
- Antioxidant activity. In rats under heat environmental stress, eleuthero was shown to prevent the stress-induced increase in fatty acid synthase and oxidoreductase activity and exhibited lower malonaldehyde (MDA) levels, which indicates improved antioxidation.9
- Alleviating fatigue. Eleutherosides were found to reduce both physical and mental fatigue in mice.10
Clinical studies have demonstrated the capacity of eleuthero to resist physical and physiological stressors.
In this randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled investigation, nine male university students took either placebo or 800 mg of eleuthero (0.11% eleutheroside B, 0.12% eleutheroside E) before cycling until exhaustion every day for 8 weeks. Eleuthro supplementation was found to increase fatigue resistance during stressful exercise based on elevated peak oxygen usage by 12% and improved endurance time by 23%.
- The study concluded that “ES supplementation enhances endurance capacity, elevates cardiovascular functions and alters the metabolism for sparing glycogen in recreationally trained males.”11
In this cohort investigation, 50 adults were given either 25 drops of eleuthero or 40 drops of echinacea 3 times daily for a 30-day period and asked to complete an ergospirometric test. Results showed improved lymphocyte and neutrophil activity in the eleuthero group, suggesting improved immunity.
- The study concluded that “active components in Eleutherococcus senticosus contained in Taiga Wurzel preparation affect cellular defence and physical fitness, as well as lipid metabolism.”12
Dosage for Stress
- According to research, eleuthero is best taken as an extract (800 mg), or as a tincture (25 – 75 drops, up to 10 mL)
- Eleuthero supplements typically come in the form of 400 – 600 mg capsules
- Eleuthero extracts can be taken in doses of up to 3 g daily
Supplements in Review Says
- Eleuthero extract 800 – 1200 mg daily for stress.
We recommend eleuthero for stress resistance. Eleuthero may help minimize the harmful effects of stress, particularly by reducing stress-related fatigue and boosting overall immunity.
Eleuthero is best taken as a tablet or tincture. In the limited number of clinical trials concerning eleuthero supplementation, the herbal extract seems equally effective as a pill at 350 – 1200 mg or a tincture at 75 drops daily.
- Deyama T, Nishibe S, et al. Constituents and pharmacological effects of Eucommia and Siberian ginseng. Acta Pharmacol Sin. 2001 Dec;22(12):1057-70. ↩
- Davydov M, Krikorian AD. Eleutherococcus senticosus (Rupr. & Maxim.) Maxim. (Araliaceae) as an adaptogen: a closer look. J Ethnopharmacol.2000 Oct;72(3):345-93. ↩
- Huang L, Zhao H, et al. Acanthopanax senticosus: review of botany, chemistry and pharmacology. Pharmazie. 2011 Feb;66(2):83-97. ↩
- Sun H, Lv H, et al. A rapid and sensitive UPLC-ESI MS method for analysis of isofraxidin, a natural antistress compound, and its metabolites in rat plasma. J Sep Sci. 2007 Dec;30(18):3202-6. ↩
- Kimura Y, Sumiyoshi M. Effects of various Eleutherococcus senticosus cortex on swimming time, natural killer activity and corticosterone level in forced swimming stressed mice. J Ethnopharmacol. 2004 Dec;95(2-3):447-53. ↩
- Schutgens FW, Neogi P, et al. The influence of adaptogens on ultraweak biophoton emission: a pilot-experiment. Phytother Res. 2009 Aug;23(8):1103-8. ↩
- Yan Y, Cheng Dong, et al. Experimental study on the effects of Rhodiola Sachalinensis and Acanthopanax Senticosus extracts on the hypoxia tolerance of mice. Modern Preventive Medicine Chengdu: Magazine House of Modern Preventive Medicine 2010;37(15):2806-7. ↩
- Buzlama VS, Antipov VA, et al. Use of Eleutherococcus for preventing transportation stress in swine. Veterinariia. 1976 Apr;(4). ↩
- Kim KJ, Hong HD, et al. The effects of Acanthopanax senticosus on global hepatic gene expression in rats subjected to heat environmental stress. Toxicology. 2010 Dec 5;278(2):217-23. ↩
- Huang LZ, Huang BK, et al. Bioactivity-guided fractionation for anti-fatigue property of Acanthopanax senticosus. J Ethnopharmacol. 2011 Jan 7;133(1):213-9. ↩
- Kuo J, Chen KW, et al. The effect of eight weeks of supplementation with Eleutherococcus senticosus on endurance capacity and metabolism in human. Chin J Physiol. 2010 Apr 30;53(2):105-11. ↩
- Szolomicki J, Samochowiec L, et al. The influence of active components of Eleutherococcus senticosus on cellular defence and physical fitness in man. Phytother Res. 2000 Feb;14(1):30-5. ↩