Eleutherococcus senticosus, is another historical Nootropic known for "invigorating qi and strengthening the spleen, tonifying kidney to relieve mental strain" in traditional Chinese medicine.
It's a classic adaptogen, that modulates our hormones and many subtleties of how our biology responds to internal and external stressors. Commonly just referred to as Eleuthero.
Not a 'true' Ginseng?
While it's referred too historically as Siberian Ginseng, it is actually a totally different species of herb, it owes this namesake to similarities of appearance with Panax Ginseng. While less studied than 'true' or Panax Ginseng, there are over 250 scientific articles published on Pubmed and 24 human clinical trials, while Panax Ginseng in comparison has 110 human clinical trials on Pubmed.
It's a bit of a poor man's Ginseng, 100 Grams of Eleuthero (about a 3 month supply) runs just about $35.
The Soviet Formula
Siberian Ginseng is approximately 1/3 of Adapt-232, which is the adaptogenic-rich formula that the Soviet regime developed for it's extreme athletes, soldiers fighting in Afghanistan, supersonic aviators and cosmonaut program, that you can't buy. Google it. It's not for sale anywhere. I'm currently researching the formula and will be selling it in a few months, join our newsletter to be notified when it becomes available.
It's such an effective agent for combating fatigue, that it's used during the ultimate high stakes, fatiguing activity; combat in a war zone.
Military personnel were dosed for a 30 day period in a 2012 study, from it's abstract:
"The aim of this study is to increase tolerance and adaptation to stress of hypersensitive to novel stressor, occupational chronic stress exposed subjects with cardiovascular maladaptation to mild new stressor using adaptogens as part of prevention protocol... We found significant statistic differences in all cardiovascular parameters in adaptogen group and only in diastolic blood pressure in control group."
A Fu Jen Catholic University 2010 study of 9 men over 8 weeks found that it boosts endurance capacity:
"This is the first well-conducted study that shows that 8-week [Eleutherococcus senticosus] supplementation enhances endurance capacity, elevates cardiovascular functions and alters the metabolism for sparing glycogen in recreationally trained males."
To quote Galaxyshock:
"Eleuthero is quite good for fighting fatigue and in some comparison to other adaptogens actually had the highest antidepressive-effect."
Siberian ginseng contains bioactive components that exert beneficial effects on the adrenals, the glands that regulate stress hormones in the body. Eluthero was used in Russian clinical trials totaling over 4300 human subjects, the unconfirmed number from the USSR Ministry of Health is that 3 million soviets used it regularly.
A 2012 study of 40 military personal suffering from chronic occupational stress:
"Chronic stress may produce a decrease in central [Neuropeptide Y] expression and subjects exposed to it may prove hypersensitivity to a novel stressor with dysfunctions in the [Neuropeptide Y] system and cardiovascular maladaptation to stress, even hypertension... Adaptogens could be an important factor in successful prevention protocols of chronic occupational stress dysfunctions involving [Neuropeptide Y] systems."
From a 2008 Yonsei University, South Korean study of 40 postmenopausal women
"These results suggest that [Eluthero] supplementation may have beneficial effects against oxidative stress and improve serum lipid profiles without subsequent side effects."
An Australian human study of competitive club-level endurance athletes found that there is a dosage tipping point around 4 grams where it actually increases stress response and cortisol, not necessarily a bad thing for high performance athletes. From it's abstract:
"This result suggested that contrary to initial expectation, [Eluthero] increased rather than decreased hormonal indices of stress, which may be consistent with animal research suggesting a threshold of stress below which [Eluthero} increases the stress response and above which [Eluthero] decreases the stress response."
A couple of studies suggested that it can have a profound effect on those suffering from PTSD as it hacks Neuropeptide Y. From a 2012 Romanian study of 40 military personnel:
"Adaptogens could be an important factor in successful prevention protocols of chronic occupational stress dysfunctions involving [Neuropeptide Y] systems."
An American study of 11 combat veterans concurred:
"Plasma [Neuropeptide Y] levels may represent a biologic correlate of resilience to or recovery from the adverse effects of stress."
It's something of long term self control lifehack for those who are trying to give up smoking "I find the adaptogenic effect becomes more noticeable four to six weeks into not smoking, which is about the time that most folk’s resolve melts away."(p. 239)
It's reported anecdotally as a major Biohack for mood, in fact it's been called a small miracle for those struggling with Anhedonia. To quote a Canadian Biohacker:
"I am able to notice it in my physical appearance. I also notice more fondness for people as well as calming and relaxing type feelings (which aren't always welcome). I prefer to have more sense of excitement but I appreciate some of the anti-anhedonic effects of Eleuthero."
Anhedonia is defined as:
"the inability to experience pleasure from activities usually found enjoyable, e.g. exercise, hobbies, music, sexual activities or social interactions."
Anhedonia is a lot of times actually a good problem to have. Anhedonia frequently is a biproduct of hard work and stoicism.
Stoicism is the philosophy of not being such a pussy about everything, it's defined as:
"the endurance of pain or hardship without the display of feelings and without complaint."
If you are reading about Biohacking and peak performance, chances are that you are hardworking to a fault, you are probably a classic workaholic who has their nervous system chronically turned way up. With the territory of workaholism comes this masochistic belief that you should work until it hurts. If you are not working until you feel totally spent, you are doing something wrong. You are not doing enough. Your nervous system is perpetually in caveman facing a jaguar mode, your nervous system lacks elasticity and resilience. This is what prevents you from drinking fully of the pleasure of
- Dinner with your family.
- Spending time in nature.
- Having sex with your wife.
- Or an intimate conversation with a friend.
Adaptogens like Eleuthero are an effective way of restoring resilience to your immune system.
An interesting double edged nuance of Nootropics like Eleuthero; to keep in mind is that smart drugs can be potent enablers of Nihilism - something that goes hand in hand with Anhedonia. According to the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy:
"Nihilism is the belief that all values are baseless and that nothing can be known or communicated. It is often associated with extreme pessimism and a radical skepticism that condemns existence. A true nihilist would believe in nothing, have no loyalties, and no purpose other than, perhaps, an impulse to destroy."
In this digital age of limitless content it's really easy to flirt with Nihilism perpetually. For example; I recently went on a bit of a binge of watching these really enthralling documentaries about ISIS and the European migrant crisis, which drew me down a really morbid, and deep rabbit hole. As I watched documentary after documentary about these extreme ideologies growing in the world I grew increasingly Nihilistic.
I think the antidotes to Nihilism are to either turn off the negative content, change the channel or to get out there and try to improve the world; not doing either of those things is a great way to die a little on the inside. Passive information consumption and Inaction is definitely not healthy.
Nootropics are kind of a way of cheating this, they are a way of artificially maintaining a good mood. While I was binging on negative documentaries, I knew I should stop watching but I actually found myself using the excuse that "I'll just use some Nootropics to stay in a good mood while I'm indulging my Nihilism."
Which I did, and it worked, but this is an example of how Biohacking can be an insidious enabler of slightly bad habits which will over time result in a pretty mediocre life and mindset. So if you are dealing with a degree of Anhedonia, Eleuthero will help but be aware that Nootropics are a way of cheating in maintaining our ecosystem of positive emotions.
Tonifies all Three Treasures
It's usage in Traditional Chinese Medicine dates back 2000 years, known as ci wu ju, it invigorates:
A Social Smart Drug
An Italian study found 300 milligrams daily is something of a social smart drug for the elderly, it concluded:
"[Siberian Ginseng] safely improves some aspects of mental health and social functioning after 4 weeks of therapy, although these differences attenuate with continued use."
So again we see the 4 week tolerance curve show up with an Adaptogen. Maybe a good reason to cycle your usage of Eleuthero in 4 week increments if your primary objective is to optimize mood.
An Immune Hack
From the Volga Car Plant in Togliatti to the Norilsk mining and metalwork complex during the cruel Siberian winter of 1972 large scale studies were conducted totaling over 14,000 members of the hardworking Russian proletariat. The Soviet researchers found consistently that total disease occurrence decreased by 30 to 50 percent in working populations, who daily faced some of the most unhealthy working conditions imaginable, bodily risk from operating large under-maintained machinery, toxic exhaust fumes, extreme temperature changes and the ongoing psychological tyranny of being a tiny, utterly replaceable cog in the soviet system.
These results were reproduced in a more carefully conducted human double blind, placebo controlled 1987 study across the iron curtain in Heidelberg, Germany. The study noted that T-Cells numbers advanced by an impressive 78% thanks to a relatively small dose of Eleuthero extract.
To quote the abstract:
"The purpose of the double-blind study was the demonstration of possible effects on the cellular immune status, as determined by quantitative flow cytometry."
The German researchers stated:
"We conclude from our data that Eleutherococcus senticosus exerts a strong immunomodulatory effect in healthy normal subjects."
According to a Russian study of 50 patients with normal trichromatic vision it's something of a Biohack for eyesight, specifically distinction between colors is enhanced for six to seven hours. Making it a good supplement for those who depend highly upon their ability to tell between colors...
- Graphic designers
- Video DJs
- Scuba Divers
- IED disposal experts
A 2003 Russian human study drew an interesting connection between short term memory and eyesight vigilance. Unfortunately, only it's brief abstract is translated into English:
"Acute administration of a liquid [Eleuthero] extract significantly improves short-term memory in healthy humans. The expression of this action depends on the daytime and psychophysiological peculiarities of the volunteers. Administration of the preparation also changes light perception by increasing retinal sensitivity. This effect was more pronounced in humans with weak type of high nervous activity in evening hours."
Mechanism of Action
The Eleuthero root includes over 200 different molecules, that biohack our neurobiology, including:
- Eleutherosides (0.6-0.9%)
- Triterpenoid saponins
It is believed to modulated our neurotransmitters by hacking catecholamines, to quote a 2001 paper out of the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology:
"A mechanism of action for... [Eleuthero] is proposed which explains how they could produce the paradoxical effect of sometimes increasing and sometimes decreasing the stress response... it is suggested that the increased energy said to result from... [Eleuthero] may be a consequence of their increasing the occupancy of stress hormone receptors which function to redistribute the body's energy reserves from regeneration to activity."
A 2012 Swedish paper goes on to explain some of the Adaptogenic mechanism:
"The beneficial stress-protective effect of adaptogens is related to the regulation of homeostasis via mechanisms of action associated with the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and the regulation of key mediators of the stress response... Taken together our studies suggest that the stimulation and release of the stress hormones, [Neuropeptide Y] and [heat shock protein], into systemic circulation is an innate defense response against mild stressors (ADAPT-232), which increase tolerance and adaptation to stress."
Looking at Eleuthero root it's easy to see how the medicine men of Eurasia confused it for a Ginseng. It's taste is described as sweet, earthy and slightly bitter. According to Pike on Longecity it makes a lovely energizing tea
It's a good idea to break up dosages between a dose first thing in the morning, and a noon or mid-afternoon dose. Taking it later in the evening may disturb sleep.
It's one Nootropic that you don't want to take in an attack dose, you'll want to start with a low dosage and work your way up, to quote Introspecta:
"Very low doses which are found in some Teas worked great for me but whenever I tried the supplements they were too stimulating and gave me anxiety. I was under the impression that Eleuthero didn't cause anxiety but was wrong."
The top cofactors as mentioned frequently in human studies are Rhodiola Rosea and Schisandra Chinensis together in Adapt-232.
A few redditors enthusiastically reported that it potentates Kratom, a none-Nootropic performance enhancer with a notoriously steep tolerance curve.
Side EffectsAfter reading numerous self experimentation reports of Eleuthero, I've come to the conclusion that the only side effect of Eleuthero you should be seriously worried about is anxiety or mania resulting from excessive dosage or combining with other stimulants. This is one Nootropic you don't want take at crazy doses or stack with a bunch of other things.
A German double blind study monitored the human study subjects for 5 months after dosing and noted no negative side effects.
Since it's a stimulant taking it with other stimulants like coffee is maybe not a great idea. Currently no known enzyme interactions that would interfere with pharmaceuticals.