Siberian ginseng is a distant relative of the American and the Asian ginseng, and it belongs to the family, Araliaceae. Its scientific name is Eleutherococcus senticosus. It is basically a small, woody, and spiny shrub with a root that resembles the carrot in appearance.
The herb is native to the regions of Northeastern Asia. It has been used in Eastern countries, especially in China and Russia, as a herbal medicine for treating a host of ailments. It shares some of the medicinal properties and benefits of ginseng (the American and Asian ginseng). But the active chemical compounds found in this herb are quite different from those found in the American and Asian ginseng.
It is mainly known as an adaptogen, which can increase the body's resistance to stress, anxiety, fatigue, and trauma. The main active compound found in this herb is 'eleutheroside', which is believed to have a stimulating effect on the immune system. Traditionally, it has been used for treating common cold and flu, and for increasing the level of energy and stamina. One of the important benefits of this herb is that it can help improve brain functions, especially the cognitive functions.
Other possible benefits include, improvement in memory, alertness, and endurance, and an increase in sperm count. It is also used to treat herpes viral infections, headaches, insomnia, angina, and bone marrow suppression caused by chemotherapy. It can help increase the level of testosterone in the body. It has exhibited the ability to inhibit the replication of certain viruses in laboratory studies. Presently, this herb is being studied to find out its efficacy in treating HIV.
Siberian Ginseng Dangers
If used in the appropriate dosage and under the supervision of a herbalist or health care provider, this herb has not been found to cause any serious side effects. Gastrointestinal discomforts, such as stomach or abdominal cramps, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting can be experienced by some individuals, especially if they are sensitive to this herb, or if they take it in high dosage.
People with heart disease, and those who are taking the drug digoxin, should not take this herb without consulting their physicians. The simultaneous use of Siberian ginseng and digoxin can increase the level of digoxin in the body. A high level of digoxin can affect the heart rhythm.
This herb can also increase blood pressure, and so, people having hypertension should not take it without consulting their physicians. This herb is used for the treatment of insomnia. But if it is taken in high dosage, or at bedtime, one can experience difficulty in sleeping. Some other possible side effects of this herb are, headaches, drowsiness, nosebleeds, and irregular heart rhythm.
This herb can interact with certain medications. It is known to prolong the time of blood clotting. Therefore, if taken along with blood-thinning or anticoagulant drugs like aspirin and warfarin, this herb can increase the risk of bleeding. The herbal extract or supplements of Siberian ginseng can increase or exaggerate the effects of sedatives, anticonvulsants, and some tricyclic antidepressants. So, people taking these medications should inform their physicians before considering to take this herbal medicine. Apart from these, this herb may interact with some other drugs, like certain allergy and antifungal medications, cancer drugs, oral contraceptives, and cholesterol-lowering medications.
To sum up, like any other herbs and herbal supplements, Siberian ginseng can also cause some side effects, if it is not taken with adequate care and precaution. So, consider to consult a physician and disclose all information regarding your health, and the kind of medications you are using, before taking this herb. This herb is usually not recommended for children, and pregnant and breastfeeding women. So, they should stay away from this herb to avoid any undesirable side effects.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only, and should not be treated as a substitute for professional medical advice.