Dealing with daily life – and the stress that comes with it – can feel like a never-ending call to action: Defend your health! Up your mental reserves! Stay strong!
And while it’s tempting to think this phenomenon is unique to modern life, feeling the need to fortify ourselves against the physical effects of daily stressors isn’t new.
For centuries, botanicals – such as the adaptogen known as eleuthero (pronounced ah-LOO-thuh-row) – have offered a natural alternative to increasing stamina and resilience.
The Search for Energy-boosting Botanicals
Throughout history, plants have been prized for their medicinal properties. In the ancient days of the Far East, Nanai (Goldes or Samagir) hunters made tonics from berries and seeds to reduce thirst and hunger and combat exhaustion.1 During WWII, pilots were given botanicals thought to have a stimulating effect to help them fly for longer periods of time.2 And in the 1950s and 1960s, Soviet scientists experimented with medicinal plants to increase stamina and survival in challenging environments.3
The term “adaptogens” was first introduced by Nikolai Lazarev, a Russian toxicologist, to describe compounds that could increase “the state of nonspecific resistance” to physiological or biological stress.4 Today, an adaptogen is considered any substance that exerts effects on both sick and healthy individuals by “correcting” any dysfunctions without producing unwanted side effects.5
The King of Adaptogens
Many medicinal herbs and mushrooms are classified as adaptogens due to their abilities to support the body in “adapting” to stress – specifically, improving energy and offering immune modulation. And one botanical, often called the “king of adaptogens,” stands out in this regard: Eleuthero.
Eleuthero (Eleutherococcus senticosus) is a medicinal plant belonging to the Araliaceae family; its Russian name translates to “prickly bearer of free berries.” It’s sometimes referred to as Siberian ginseng, although it is not related to true ginseng (Panax ginseng), and it has different constituents.6 A woody shrub, eleuthero grows natively in Russia, Korea, Japan, and China and is often found in forested, cooler climates.7
According to the European Medicines Agency, eleuthero may help to restore vigor, benefit memory, promote appetite, increase longevity, and improve general health.8 In-vitro clinical research studies have shown this plant to support:9,10,11
- Immune modulation
- Antioxidant capacity
- Healthy inflammatory balance
- Healthy energy levels
- Cardiovascular function
- Cellular protection
- Liver protection
- Healthy blood sugar levels
- Bone remodeling
- Microbial balance
Though more research is still needed, the existing science supports eleuthero as an adaptogenic herb that acts as a whole-body tonic, improving vitality and resilience. With its long history of traditional use and validation by modern scientific research, eleuthero can be considered a valuable botanical ally for overall wellness.