Herb of the Week #11 :: Eleuthero

I'm not sure about you, but I have started looking ahead at this year, making travel and work plans, and boy, it's filling up FAST! It's not even March yet! Whew! Additionally, I am studying to take a board exam in nutrition, that is totally optional, but being the type A personality that I am, if it's out there and I can... I must and I will. So... I am definitely feeling the pressure lately. On top of that I recently started upping my workout game a little. Before I get into that, I feel I have to share a brief history of why I took a break from working out, cause I am one of those weirdos that LOVES to workout and sweat. Back in the day, I used to be a high preforming, award-winning athlete through college, from high school volleyball where I made all-conference and represent Southern California in Amsterdam for an international conference to varsity crew at Georgetown and winning the big-east as a freshman. Additionally in college also fell in love with running and in my 20s started doing marathons and olympic triathlons. In addition to constantly training for races, compounding injuries and stress from a corporate job in design that I no longer wanted, I hit the wall as an athlete and as a regular human being.

I was diagnosed years later with Adrenal fatigue and exhaustion. And with the help of my naturopath and my nutrition education, I learned I needed to back off the intense exercise to heal my body and mind. Part of that healing included using adaptogenic herbs. So today I thought I would share one of my favorites from that group: Eleuthro, aka Siberian ginseng. This herb is not only great for helping us with stress mentally but also physically and is known to be great for athletes! Check it out!


Botanical Latin Name: Eleutherococcus senticosus (Siberian ginseng)

Botanical Family: Araliaeace (ivy) family

Parts used: root

Method: Tea, tincture

Actions: Adaptogen, nervine, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory

Energetics: neutral to warming

Taste: neutral to mildly bitter

Dosage:Tea - infuse 1-2 tsp dried herb to 8 oz of water, steep for 10-15 minutes, drink 1-3 cups daily. Tincture use up to 2 droppers full (20-90 drops) 1-4 times daily, or 2-3 grams of dried herb daily

Contraindications: Eleuthero may interfere with some prescription drugs, such as cardiac medications and antibiotics, and caution with hypertension

Eleuthero (also referred to as Siberian ginseng) is one of the best known and widely used adaptogenic herbs. Adaptogens help our endocrine system, specifically the adrenal glands, adapt to the stress (internal or external) in our lives by regulating our adrenal stress response (for more on that and adrenal fatigue, I wrote an article). They strengthen our nervous system and build energy while also promoting calm in the body. It’s great for those in recovery from surgery or chronic disease.

Eleuthero helps the body to thwart environmental stressors and improves physical and mental performance. It does this in many ways, one is that it increases oxygen in the tissues and organs of the body, strengthens digestion and the immune system. For these reasons, It helps those with a general feeling of fatigue, weakness, depressed mood and lack of concentration, as well as supports athletes and those looking to increase endurance and stamina. Well-known herbalist and functional medicine doc Aviva Romm says "It is anabolic, which means it helps build muscle and prevents the breakdown of muscle as we age." Yes please!

Eleuthero is known to boost and stimulate the male sex drive and reproductive health. Additionally, it can help with fading memory or memory loss.

It can safely be taken on a long-term basis and help to reduce infections and improve vitality and well-being. However, a general rule with all adaptogens is to take them for 6 weeks followed by a 2 week break to see Therefore, it’s a great general tonic for nearly everyone.

Note: All my nutrition and herbal knowledge is based in science, that was a large part of why I chose the school that I went to. If you ever want references please comment below or email me and I will send links to anything you need! And if you want those references cited in future posts, let me know too. I can definitely start doing that if it's desired.

Helpful uses for eleuthero:

  • Atherosclerosis
  • Diabetes
  • hypotension
  • Cancer and radiation recovery
  • Neurosis
  • Adrenal exhaustion or fatigue
  • Kidney infection or disease
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Ease tension and anxiety
  • Immune help
  • General exhaustion or weakness
  • Boosts endurance levels
  • Lowers cholesterol
  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Various types of neuroses
  • Reduce the severity and duration of herpes simplex 2 infections
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Mild depression
  • Balance hormones
  • Male virility and reproductive health and impotence
  • Improving memory
  • Dream disturbed sleep
  • Hyperglycemia and blood sugar regulation
  • Improves heat in body for those often cold
  • Improve detoxification

I am often making protein-packed energy balls for myself and husband for when we need to grab something before a workout, early morning or simply a tasty snack. This ball recipe was inspired by renown herbalist Rosemary Gladstar and her recipe for Zoom Balls in her book Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health. And the great thing about make energy balls, is that you can use whatever nut butters, fruits or powders you have around.

Rocket Balls

These are high in nutrients and minerals like iron, magnesium, B vitamins and zinc. They are great for energy, stimulate metabolism, promote healthy cells, support the immune system and satisfy your stomach.

2 cups tahini

2 cups almond or other nut butter

2 cups honey (local and raw)

1 cup chopped almonds or other nuts (I like to soak and sprout mine then re-dehydrate)

½ cup cacao powder

¼ cup bee pollen

3 tbsp eleuthero powder*

2 tbsp ashwaghanda powder*

2 tbsp reishi powder*

1 tsp ground cardamom

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground nutmeg

½ tsp cayenne powder

½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut (lightly toasted, optional)

Mix tahini, nut butter and honey together until smooth. Add in chopped almonds or other nuts, all powders and spices and mix well to incorporate. Feel free to add more honey or nut butter if desired. Roll into small balls and then roll in the shredded coconut to coat the outside. Store in sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, or freeze for up to a month. Enjoy!

* I just grind my roots in a coffee or spice grinder, I find this is a little cheaper than buying powdered, unless I know I am going to use it more often.

If you make these I’d love to see your pictures and hear what you thought! Share here and on Instagram!