Here’s an excerpt from the University of Maryland Medical Center’s very up-to-date Complementary Medicine website entry on Siberian Ginseng, a traditional botanical which has been the object of new research attention in the last decade.
See also the NYBC entry for Eleuthero/Siberian Ginseng. Note that the NYBC item is a MMS Pro/Murdock Madaus Schwabe product, which has an excellent record for quality control. (An important concern, since studies have shown a great deal of variability among commercially available ginseng products manufactured in the US.)
Siberian ginseng, also known as eleuthero, has been used for centuries in Eastern countries, including China and Russia. Although a distant relative of American ( Panax quinquefolius ) and Asian ginseng ( Panax ginseng ), with some overlap in its uses, Siberian ginseng is a distinct plant with different active chemical components. Prized for its ability to restore vigor, increase longevity, enhance overall health, and stimulate both a healthy appetite and a good memory, it is widely used in Russia to help the body adapt to stressful conditions and to enhance productivity.
…Until recently, most scientific research on Siberian ginseng was conducted in Russia. This research has largely supported its use to maintain health and strengthen the system rather than to treat particular disorders. Siberian ginseng may help the body deal with physically and mentally stressful exposures, such as heat, cold, physical exhaustion, viruses, bacteria, chemicals, extreme working conditions, noise, and pollution. By strengthening the system, it may also help prevent illness.
Research on Siberian ginseng has included studies on the following:
A 4-week study in healthy subjects found that those who received Siberian ginseng extract had improvements in a number of measures that reflect the functioning of the immune system. Several combination supplements containing Siberian ginseng and other herbs have reported benefits in patients with colds and the flu. Laboratory studies also support the use of Siberian ginseng to improve immunity.
A 3-month human study of Siberian ginseng among middle aged volunteers found that there was a significant improvement in memory and concentration as compared to placebo.
Although Siberian ginseng is frequently used to enhance physical stamina and increase muscle strength, studies have shown mixed results for these purposes. Other studies support the use of Siberian ginseng to decrease symptoms of fatigue.
Siberian ginseng has a long history of folkloric use for male infertility. Animal studies suggest that Siberian ginseng may be helpful in increasing reproductive capacity.
Elderly quality of life
One study found Siberian ginseng use in elderly patients improved their quality of life including aspects of mental health and social functioning after 4 weeks of therapy. When the ginseng was stopped, the improvements decreased.
Herpes viral infection
A 6-month study of 93 people with herpes simplex virus type 2 (which can cause genital herpes lesions) found that Siberian ginseng reduced frequency, severity, and duration of outbreaks. Talk to your doctor about whether it is safe or appropriate for you to use Siberian ginseng as a supplement to prevent herpes outbreaks.
Also note these warnings and contraindications: avoid use with hypertension, hyperactivity or extreme nervous anxiety. Not recommended during pregnancy or lactation. Check with a healthcare professional before taking Siberain Ginseng if you have blood sugar problems or diabetes.