12 Potential Health Benefits Of Eleuthero

Eleuthero is a plant that has been traditionally used as an immune system booster and a general stimulant.

Sometimes known as Siberian ginseng, eleuthero is native to Japan, northern China, southeastern Russia, South Korea, and North Korea.

What is Eleuthero?

There is evidence that eleuthero was first used as an herbal remedy in China some 2,000 years ago.

The plant is mostly used in traditional medicines as an adaptogen, a compound that helps the body better handle and adapt to stress. Eleuthero also acts as a stimulant, increasing nervous system function.

Although they have similar benefits and usages, eleuthero (Eleutherococcus senticosus and Acanthopanax senticosus) is not related to American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) or true ginseng (Panax ginseng.)

12 potential health benefits

Eleuthero fruit RESIZE
Eleuthero bears fruit that can be eaten raw.

In traditional and herbal medicines, eleuthero is used to treat dozens of different health conditions.

However, the number of advantages tested and proven in animals and humans is far less. Most of the more established benefits of eleuthero still have unclear or conflicting evidence.

Potential health benefits of eleuthero include:

1. Increasing energy and reducing fatigue

As a stimulant, eleuthero boosts energy levels and contains compounds known to help overcome exhaustion and prevent its side effects.

One study found that eleuthero consumption significantly increased the exhaustion point of swimming mice by lessening the build up of lactic acid and blood urea nitrogen, in addition to increasing fat utilization.

2. Improving cognitive function

By increasing circulation, eleuthero may increase blood flow to the brain, improving mental functions such as memory and concentration.

3. Managing cancer

Panax ginseng has been shown to have anti-cancer or anti-tumor properties.

Research suggests eleuthero may have similar properties, especially in cases of lung cancer, but this claim requires more research.

4. Enhancing exercise

As a stimulant, eleuthero may increase the ability of muscles to do work, especially during periods of intense physical activity.

One study found that consuming 800 milligrams (mg) of eleuthero a day for 8 weeks increased a male subject’s endurance time by 23 percent, peak oxygen saturation by 12 percent, and highest heart rate by 3 percent.

5. Healing wounds and preventing ulcers

By boosting the immune system, eleuthero may improve or speed up the healing process.

Compounds in eleuthero have also been shown to prevent the formation of ulcers, including diabetic foot ulcers.

6. Increasing low blood pressure

As a stimulant, eleuthero increases circulation and heart rate and may raise blood pressure over time.

This may be beneficial for people with low blood pressure but can cause risks for people with hypertension.

7. Reducing osteoporosis

In several traditional medicines, eleuthero is used to increase muscle and bone strength.

In a 2013 study, rats given 100 mg of eleuthero daily for 8 weeks saw a 16.7 percent increase in femur bone density.

8. Managing menopause

Extracts of eleuthero and eleutherosides are known to bind to estrogen receptor sites.

Eleuthero may, therefore, lessen the effects of estrogen withdrawal in women who are experiencing menopause. For this reason, women with estrogen-driven cancer may need to consult their doctor before consuming eleuthero.

9. Reducing or limiting respiratory tract infections

As an immune stimulant, eleuthero may shorten the length and severity of lung infections, such as influenza and pneumonia.

10. Improving lymphatic function

Eleutherosides have been shown to improve the lymphatic function of the lymph node network, meaning they may reduce edema. Edema is swelling caused by a build up of fluid.

2016 study found eleuthero powder significantly reduced edema within 2 and 4 hours after consumption in 50 healthy volunteers.

11. Preventing and repairing nerve damage

Several studies have shown that eleutherosides may help prevent and repair nerve damage.

Eleuthero has been explored, as a potential preventative or management medication for progressive neurological conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease.

One study found that eleuthero improved nerve regeneration and synapse reformation in rats with nerve damage.

12. Lowering or stabilizing blood sugar levels

Eleutherosides have been shown to reduce insulin resistance and are being considered for the management of type 2 diabetes.

A 2013 study found that 480 mg per day of eleuthero significantly lowered fasting and post-meal blood sugar levels in subjects with type 2 diabetes.

Buying Considerations

Eleuthero extracts are made using the plant’s bark, stems, leaves, or roots.

Eleuthero powder
Eleuthero is available as a powder.

The herb is sold in the form of capsules, tablets, a liquid or tincture, and as a powder.

It can also be used whole, and the herb’s dried leaves and stems can be boiled to make a tea. The plant’s fresh fruit may also be eaten raw.

Although it can be sold alone, eleuthero is also commonly found in multivitamins and tonics aimed at boosting immune function, increasing energy levels, and promoting vitality.

As with most herbal supplements, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate the production, marketing, or sale of eleuthero. Therefore, a person should check the ingredients in products labeled as ginseng before buying or using them.

Eleutherosides, in particular, eleutheroside B, is usually the main bioactive ingredient, and a pharmacist should be able to recommend appropriate products that contain this.

How to use eleuthero

There is no standard recommended dosage for eleuthero. How the herb is used depends on the formula, form, and the benefit being sought.

The herb is not considered safe for use in children. For people over the age of 18, typical dosage and other recommendations include:

  • take between 300- and 1,200-mg daily, not exceeding 3- to 6-grams
  • take in the morning to avoid disrupting the sleep cycle
  • take doses between meals
  • take the supplement for no more than 6 weeks continuously followed by at least a 2-3 week break

It is important to talk with a doctor before taking herbal supplements. It can be helpful to take the bottle or product packaging for reference.

Health complications and risks

Herbal products can react with certain medications, causing a negative reaction or decreasing the effect of the medication. Also, herbal products may not be safe for people with certain health conditions.

Potential side effects of eleuthero usage include:

  • increased risk of sudden bleeding and hemorrhage
  • raised or lowered blood pressure
  • increased or reduced blood sugar levels
  • hormone changes, especially of cortisol
  • hives and contact dermatitis or skin rashes
  • gastrointestinal problems, including diarrhea, nausea, and cramping
  • muscle spasms
  • nerve pain
  • cold extremities
  • nervousness or aggressiveness
  • headache
  • insomnia
  • confusion

Medications, health conditions, and consumables that increase the risk of side effects with eleuthero or require medical monitoring include:

  • bleeding disorders or conditions
  • medications that affect bleeding, such as heparin, warfarin (Coumadin®), and over-the-counter pain medications, including aspirin, naproxen, and ibuprofen
  • liver medications
  • heart failure medications, such as digoxin
  • ACE inhibitors
  • Hormone-regulating medications
  • anti-allergy medications
  • psychiatric or mental conditions
  • antidepressants
  • alcohol
  • radiotherapy
  • sedatives
  • anti-seizure medications
  • steroids
  • pregnancy
  • diabetes and insulin use
  • antibiotics or antivirals
  • vasodilators
  • ginkgo biloba
  • saw palmetto
  • garlic
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Preventing And Fighting Cancer With Fruits, Vegetables, And Herbs

Making a commitment to eating a rainbow of colors when it comes to fruits and vegetables is important not only for your palate but also for your gut. Your gut houses the majority of your microbiome, your community of commensal, symbiotic and pathogenic microorganisms, and eating your fruits and veggies helps to maintain a healthy balance of these organisms.

Fruits and vegetables also offer vast health benefits from a variety of over 6000 flavonoids, a class of phytonutrients, that provide pigment to plants and are commonly noted for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory health benefits. But as research is uncovering, many flavonoids possess other health benefits including anticancer properties. And it is here that we come full circle.

We need a healthy gut microbiome to convert flavonoids to their health-promoting metabolites. Apigenin is a type of flavonoid that has been studied extensively for its anti-inflammatory and anticancer properties. Apigenin has been shown to possess anti-carcinogenic properties on a variety of cancers including pancreatic, colorectal and breast cancer and is also being examined for its effects when combined with chemotherapy agents.

Apigenin is found in a variety of foods and herbs such as:

  • apples
  • broccoli
  • basil
  • onions
  • artichoke
  • oregano
  • chamomile
  • cilantro

But it is most prominently concentrated in parsley and celery, two of the most commonly used staples in our kitchen.

Celery is labeled as the go-to for making soups and broths and as the key to a successful calorie restriction plan as it is full of water (95% of it is water) and fiber, the perfect combination for the war against weight.  Now you can add celery’s cancer-fighting properties to its list of healthy benefits. And Mother Nature has made it so convenient to consume and the perfect vehicle for dips and nut butter.

Parsley is the most widely used herb in kitchens. And for good reason:

  • It comes in many varieties.
  • It’s available all year round.
  • It’s easy to grow.
  • It freshens your breath.
  • It has a very pleasant taste in a wide variety of dishes.

As well as the noted Apigenin flavonoid, parsley is high in Vitamin K and Vitamin C and is a good source of Vitamin A. Chemoprotective foods such as celery and parsley can be easily incorporated into our daily diet and they are just two examples of how nature provides us with powerful weapons in our cancer prevention and cancer-fighting arsenals.

Epigenetics And Cancer: You Are What You Eat

In early 2015 researchers at John Hopkins University released a study that stated that the cause of the majority of cancers could be attributed to “bad luck”. In essence, what this study purported was that most people who get cancer have simply drawn the short stick.

It was a deflating result to those of us who believe that we have a good degree of control over our health by the food we eat and the lifestyle we choose to live.

Enter Dr. Bruce Lipton. Dr. Lipton is a developmental biologist and the catalyst of the cutting edge science called epigenetics.

In simple terms, epigenetics is the study of how our environment affects our gene expression; how changes in gene expression can be initiated without changes to the underlying DNA sequence.

As studies progress in this field, the notion that we are at the mercy of our gene pool is refuted, putting back into our hands the responsibility that we do in fact have some degree of control over our own health. And it is this vantage point that I believe we should use when considering cancer prevention and perhaps treatment.

Although more research is needed to determine a direct causal link between diet and cancer, several studies have shown the positive association between the two. For example, a study by Yessenia Tantamango-Bartley et al. demonstrated that “Vegetarian diets seem to confer protection against cancer.”

Furthermore, as researchers continue to uncover the associations between diet and disease, it is becoming increasingly clear that the greatest benefits come from whole foods and not the nutritional components of food.

I recently watched a short video by Bruce Lipton in which he spoke of a research project headed by Vaucheret and Chapeau demonstrating that “small plant RNAs acquired orally through food intake directly influence gene expression in animals after migration through the plasma and delivery to specific organs.” Lipton continues by saying that “microRNA molecules in the food we eat are picked up by our digestive system and transferred to our own cells and regulates our own genetics…we alter our own genetic readout by the food we eat.”  So in essence, what we eat can either turn on our health genes or turn on our disease genes.

The science behind this is complicated but the message is simple. Rather than attributing cancer to a bad outcome of Russian roulette, we need to move forward in understanding the implications of what we choose to eat and how we choose to live our lives in preventing and fighting cancer.

Asparagus May Prevent Holiday Hangover

New Year’s Eve is quickly approaching as everyone gets their best outfit ready, their new year’s resolution written down, bottles of champagne prepared, and asparagus stocked in the fridge.

With too much champagne, like other alcohol, comes a hangover, and who wants to spend the first day of 2017 in bed with a hangover?

Most people want to start the new year refreshed with their resolution, most commonly starting a popular diet or exercise, especially after overindulging during the holiday season, however, these resolutions can be challenging with a hangover.

According to research from 2009 published by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) in the Journal of Food Science, asparagus can help the body speed up the metabolism of alcohol.

The study showed that asparagus extract contains amino acids and minerals that may cure an alcohol hangover and help keep liver cells safe from toxins.

A team of experts at the Institute of Medical Science and Jeju National University in Korea evaluated the elements of young asparagus leaves and shoots in order to differentiate the impact on the liver cells.

“The amino acid and mineral contents were found to be much higher in the leaves than the shoots,” said B.Y. Kim, leading researcher.

Oxidative stress on the liver results from chronic alcohol use, as does the uncomfortable physical outcome linked to a hangover.

Kim explained:

“Cellular toxicities were significantly alleviated in response to treatment with the extracts of asparagus leaves and shoots. These results provide evidence of how the biological functions of asparagus can help alleviate alcohol hangover and protect liver cells.”

asparagus
Asparagus Officinalis is a common vegetable that is consumed all around the world. The vegetable has anticancer effects, which is why it has been used as an herbal medicine. It also has anti-inflammatory, antifungal, and diuretic qualities.

A previous report from last year indicated ways to avoid a hangover, including:

  • eating before drinking alcohol (food slows the absorption of alcohol)
  • drink slowly
  • drink a glass of water after each drink of alcohol to avoid dehydration
  • take a vitamin B supplement
  • sleep as much as possible after the party is finished

Signs & Symptoms of A Hangover

A symptom is something that the person feels, such as feeling dizzy; while a sign is something that everyone can notice, such as bloodshot eyes.

The signs and symptoms most often occur in the morning, after a night of consuming a lot of alcohol, when the person’s blood alcohol drops significantly. They may include:

  • nausea
  • depression
  • accelerated heartbeat
  • bloodshot eyes
  • headache
  • diarrhea
  • anxiety
  • hypersalivation
  • body and muscle aches
  • sensitivity to loud sounds
  • sensitivity to light (photophobia)
  • stomachache
  • vomiting
  • thirst
  • irritability
  • moodiness
  • problems concentrating
  • flatulence
  • fatigue
  • bad breath
  • shakiness

 

Natural Home Remedies for Sore Throat

Sore throats are one of the most common reasons people go to the doctor and they tend to affect children the most. A sore throat is usually considered a minor complaint until you have one and every swallow induces pain—pain that may seem unbearable. Unfortunately, the only option is to treat the symptoms and rest until you recover. Fortunately, there are many natural remedies that can soothe a sore throat and there’s a good chance you already have many of them in your home.

Common Sore Throat Causes

There are many potential causes of a sore throat, viruses are the most common. In fact, viruses account for about 95% of sore throats in both adults and children under the age of 5. Other common causes of a sore throat include:

  • Allergies
  • Dry air
  • Pollution
  • Smoking
  • Exposure to people with a sore throat
  • Cold
  • Flu
  • Strep throat (bacterial)
  • Tonsillitis
  • Weak immune system
  • Acid reflux

Common Sore Throat Symptoms

Isn’t a sore throat a symptom itself? Yes, but as you probably already know, not all sore throats are the same and some are more severe than others. You might have one that only makes your voice a little hoarse, or it might be a serious impediment to your ability to breathe comfortably. Some of the most common symptoms of a sore throat are:

  • Pain when swallowing
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Dry and itchy throat
  • Swollen glands around the neck and throat
  • Hoarse voice

A sore throat is also a first symptom of the common cold and flu, but you might have other symptoms such as fever, runny nose, congestion, headache, abdominal pain, or vomiting. Consult your trusted healthcare provider if your sore throat lasts longer than one week.

Best Home Remedies for Sore Throat

1. Drink Warm Fluids

If you have a cold, make sure you’re taking in plenty of fluids. Nothing feels better than warm tea and thin soup when you’re sick. When your throat is raw and inflamed, drinking warm beverages keeps your throat moist and comfortable. Black tea might be the obvious choice, but give green or oolong tea a chance if Earl Grey just isn’t your, well, cup of tea.

2. Gargle Salt Water

For fast relief from sore throat pain, gargle 8 ounces of warm water with half a teaspoon of salt. You may have heard of this practice before and dismissed it as an old wives’ tale, but it does work and many people swear by it.

3. Use a Humidifier

If there’s anything that can make a sore throat even worse, it’s harsh, dry air. Use a humidifier to add moisture to the air around you. In one study, using a humidifier reduced the severity of sore throat pain. If you’re experiencing other symptoms like upper respiratory congestion, try adding an essential oil like eucalyptus oil to the humidifier to loosen and help expel excess mucus.

4. Honey and Black Seed Oil

Honey may not be suitable for vegans, and it’s dangerous for children under the age of one. However, honey does offer many benefits. Add a teaspoon of honey to your tea, or take a spoonful by mouth to sooth your sore throat. As an added bonus, research indicates that honey significantly improves cough symptoms in children.

You can spike your honey with therapeutic spice by adding 2-3 drops of black cumin seed oil (also called black seed oil) to your honey. Like herbal teas, black cumin seed oil is an anti-inflammatory and can help soothe the pain.

5. Cold Food

Drinking or eating something cold soothes an irritated throat almost immediately. Instead of ice cream or ice pops, opt for whole fruit sorbet or make your own fruit pops to soothe the irritation.

6. Herbal Tea

Many varieties of herbal tea are effective at soothing a sore throat. Chamomile, lavender, echinacea, sage, ginger, peppermint, and licorice root tea all have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Peppermint, in particular, relieves upper respiratory congestion by improving lung function and the ability to breathe through your nose. If you need to add a little sweetener, stir a teaspoon of honey or elderberry into your herbal tea.

7. Essential Oils: Lavender, Eucalyptus, and Myrrh

Myrrh and eucalyptus are effective for soothing a sore throat but don’t take them as a tea. Instead, inhale the vapors by using a diffuser or humidifier. You can also gargle with myrrh like a mouthwash.

Apply one or two drops of lavender oil, specifically and exclusively from the Lavandula angustifolia species, to the back of your tongue or throat, to relieve the pain from a dry, scratchy throat. The taste isn’t overwhelming and the only side effect is fresh floral-smelling breath.

8. Spices: Cayenne, Turmeric, Ginger, and Clove

Cayenne might seem counterintuitive for a sore throat but, after the burn, it provides relief by numbing the pain. To make, add one tablespoon of cayenne pepper to a quarter cup of warm water. Mix in the cayenne completely, take a mouthful, tilt your head back, and gargle. If you can’t handle a lot of spice, this might not be the best solution.

Turmeric and ginger both have long histories as therapeutic plants. Drinking ginger juice alleviates sore throat pain. You can also make a tea with fresh ginger. Turmeric contains curcumin, which is very soothing. You can make a turmeric gargle to soothe a sore throat, just like cayenne, but without the sting.

Make a clove tea, clove calms inflammation and eases the discomfort associated with a sore throat.

9. Propolis

Research indicates that propolis offers multiple health benefits, especially for those suffering from an upper respiratory infection. If you’ve never heard of it, propolis is made of plant material, beeswax, and, well, bee saliva. It is useful against most types of harmful organisms, even the flu virus. Take it by adding 5 drops of propolis to a teaspoon of water.

10. Honey and Elderberry

Honey with elderberry is my favorite combination. Research suggests that elderberry reduces the severity of the common cold and flu symptoms and may shorten the duration of the illness. Add a little elderberry syrup to your honey and stir into your tea or simply take it by mouth. If you use fresh elderberries, make sure to cook them thoroughly; raw elderberries are not safe to eat.

How to Prevent a Sore Throat

The best strategy is to avoid catching a sore throat in the first place. Reduce your chances by washing your hands and limiting your exposure to sick people. Avoid smoking and secondhand smoke, which may irritate your throat. Strengthen your immune system by eating cruciferous vegetables and carotenoid-rich tomatoes. For more tips, check out our How to Stay Healthy During the Winter article.

There are, of course, many types of lozenges, sprays, gargles, and, recently, pain strips but be careful with OTC medicine as it may have very real side effects. Conversely, most of the remedies described in this article do not have unpleasant side effects.