Eleuthero (Ci Wu Jia)Eleuthero (Ci Wu Jia)

Botanical Name: Western – Eleutherococcus senticosus. Eastern – Acanthopanax senticosus.

Eleuthero (aka Siberian ginseng) is listed in the ancient Chinese herbal text, “The Divine Husbandman’s Classic of Materia Medica” written over 2,000 years ago. However, it was not really appreciated in the West until Russian research confirmed its healing abilities. The word “adaptogen” was coined by a Russian scientist to specifically describe this herbs properties. Eleuthero (aka Siberian Ginseng) remains to this day one of the best adaptogenic herbs available. Adaptogens are herbs that enhance the immune system, build strength, and promote overall health. It has long been used in Oriental herbal formulas.

Below is an overview of Eleuthero (Ci Wu Jia), combining and interpreting the best of Western Science, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Shamanism, Folklore and more. Gain a balanced and thorough understanding of the healing properties of Eleuthero (Ci Wu Jia).

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Western Name: Eleuthero

Also Known As: Siberian Ginseng, Ussuranian Thorny Pepperbush

Organs/Systems: Immune System, Adrenals, Nervous System, Cardiovascular System

Key Western Actions & Medicinal Uses: Adaptogen, Tonic, Relaxant, Anti-inflammatory, Detoxificant, Analgesic, Sedating. Builds endurance, general fatigue, builds immunity, colds, herpes simplex 2, possibly lowers blood sugar levels, slows blood clotting, relieves the signs and symptoms of stress, reduces inflammation, improves respiration, chronic fatigue, headaches, insomnia.


Pin Yin: Ci Wu Jia

Also Known As: Wu Jia, Wu Jia Shen

Meridians: Spleen, Kidney, Heart

Key TCM Actions & Medicinal Uses: Fortifies Qi/Builds Blood/Tonifies Spleen: fatigue, weak stamina, counter signs and symptoms of stress, anorexia, forgetfulness, palpitations due to weak Spleen. Nourishes the Kidneys: impotence, male sexual disorders, spermatorrhea, aches and pains of the loins, weak knees due to Kidney Deficiency. Expels Wind Damp/Reduces Swelling: inflammation, arthritis, joint pain, numbness of limbs, colds, bronchitis, respiratory infections. Calms Shen: insomnia, dreamed-filled sleep. Builds Immunity/Aids Detoxification: improves resistance due to white blood cell loss in cancer patients caused by side effects of chemotherapy or other harsh drugs.

Basic Habitat/Botany:

The Eleutherococcus genus contains over 30 species. It is a shrub that can grow to be 3-15 feet tall. Its leaves are palmate and its stems are covered in with bristles.

Eleuthero is native to northeastern China, Japan, Korea and Russia. It likes to grow in the under story of trees and mountain thickets.

Eleuthero (Ci Wu Jia)Parts Most Frequently Used: Root (with or without the root bark). Occasionally the Leaves of certain species are used in teas.

Flavors/Temps: Pungent, Slightly Bitter, Warming

Caution: Generally, considered safe. In rare cases it has caused agitation and palpitations.

History/Folklore: Both the Western and Oriental varietals of eleuthero are excellent for treating chronic fatigue, the effects of long term illnesses and poor stamina. For thousands of years this herb has been used in the Orient as a tonic herb used to invigorate Energy (Qi), nourish the Spleen and Kidney Systems, and promote general health. It has also been used to treat insomnia when there is access dreaming and anxiety.

In China, the root cortex is considered the most potent part of the plant, so they often discard the root bark. The root is best harvested when the plant is dormant.

The herb is commonly called Siberian ginseng in reference to the health benefits it shares with Panax ginseng, the popular ginseng of Oriental medicine. Siberian ginseng’s anti-fatigue and anti-stress properties are actually considered stronger than Panax Ginseng.

A famous Chinese doctor is quoted as saying, “I would rather take a handful of eleuthero than a carload of gold and jewels.”

Eletheuro is excellent for people suffering from general fatigue, fatigue without explanation, or fatigue after eating a meal. It helps regulate the endocrine secretions, the adrenal cortex and blood sugar levels.

Eleuthero is known to stimulate the adrenals and sex hormone production. It is gonadotrophic.

In Russia, the herb is called “shigoka” and is used as a tonic herb for building strength and supporting the immune system. The research done in Russia about this herb set the standard for all adaptogenic studies on any herbs that followed. While how these herbs work exactly remains in many cases uncertain, it is confirmed that they clinically improve stamina, mental acuity, and ease the impact of stress on the body, mind and spirit.

Unlike true ginseng, which eleuthero is distantly related to, eleuthero is not a stimulant or sexual enhancer. Like ginseng, the benefits of the herb are best witnessed when it is taken consistently over time.

Typical dosage is 9-30 g when used in decoction or 0.5 g when using powdered extract.

Key Constituents:

Glycosides (including: Eleutheroside A, B, C, D, E, F, Beta-sitostinal, Secamin, Ethyl-beta-d-galactoside, Isofraxidin), Triterpenoid sapponins, Polysaccharides, Glycans, Coumarins.

Did you know?


Eleuthero is popularly used in Korea and Russia. It was Russian research that first brought this powerful herb to prominence in the West.


Look for Eleutherosides

There are many fake and adulterated products claiming to be the herb eleuthero. Look to be sure the herb’s main active constituent, eleutheroside, is present in the product before purchasing just any brand.

Fun fact!

Germany & France

Both Germany and France prescribe eleuthero to support general health and endurance.

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