Siberian ginseng is not ginseng at all. In fact, it comes from a plant called Eleutherococcus senticosus, which is touted as having many health benefits. You can buy supplements made from this plant, and you'll want to make sure that the label indicates that it is made from E. senticosus, as actual ginseng comes from another genus of plants altogether, and is not known for having as many health benefits. You can also find Siberian ginseng marketed as eleuthero. The part of the plant that is in this supplement is the roots, which have been dried and made into a fine powder. You can find Siberian ginseng supplements at almost any health food store.
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One of the most popular uses for Siberian ginseng is to improve memory. It has been used in Chinese medicine for many years for this purpose, among others. There have been multiple studies that demonstrate improved cognitive function in people who supplemented with Siberian ginseng. Perhaps for this reason, it is one of the supplements currently being considered as a way to help Alzheimer's patients make cognitive improvements.
A 2001 study clearly shows that Siberian ginseng extract inhibited the replication of several different viruses under laboratory conditions. The viruses studied were human rhinovirus (HRV), respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and influenza A. This evidence strongly suggests that Siberian ginseng may be a way to decrease symptoms from colds and flu. For this reason, Siberian ginseng is also being studied as an antiviral to be used in the treatment of HIV.
Siberian ginseng has been shown to have an anti-inflammatory effect, making it useful to some individuals in the treatment of arthritis.
The Chinese also used Siberian ginseng to help boost energy levels. These days, people use it to improve physical stamina, both during sports and for everyday activities. Anecdotal evidence suggests that Siberian ginseng may also help alleviate some of the energy problems associated with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
Siberian ginseng extract has been shown to shrink tumours in laboratory settings. It has not been proven whether or not this effect can be transferred outside the lab. At this time, no animal studies have been done on this phenomena, but it is a promising potential treatment.
Dosage and Side Effects
The dosage of Siberian ginseng that should be taken is highly dependent on your body chemistry and the reason you are supplementing. Many people start out by taking 500 milligrams of the powdered root in capsule form, and may increase the dosage if their body tolerates it. Because Siberian ginseng has energy producing properties, it can cause nervousness and insomnia in some individuals. It should also be taken in the morning, when its energising effects will be welcome.
In addition to nervousness and insomnia, possible side effects include high blood pressure, irregular heart rate and headache. For this reason, individuals who begin supplementing with Siberian ginseng should start at low doses.
Drug interactions are rare, however, Siberian ginseng can have an additive effect with digoxin and should not be taken with that medication.
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