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Eleuthero is a shrub that grows about 5 to 8 feet tall. It is also known as touch-me-not and devil's shrub. Eleuthero belongs to the Araliaceae family and is a distant relative of Asian ginseng. It has erect, spiny shoots covered with gray or brown bark. The leaves are long, petioled, and grow in a compound palmate formation. This shrub is native to the taiga region of the Far East, including such countries as Russia, China, Korea and Japan. Eleuthero is commonly used in place of Asian ginseng because it displays some similar properties and is more prevalent than its distant cousin. The root and rhizomes are used.
Eleuthero contains eleutherosides A-G, and complex polysaccharides. The most active eleutherosides are B and E. The ginsenosides that are recognized in Asian ginseng are not present in eleuthero.
Eleuthero has very few reported side effects. Insomnia, irritability, melancholy, and anxiety are infrequently reported, or are signs of overuse. It is not recommended for people with high blood pressure. Supplemental powdered eleutheroside extracts are most often taken at about 100 to 200 mg per day, tinctures at about 10 to 20 ml per day, and dried root at about 2 to 4 grams per day. Frequently, eleuthero is taken for about six weeks, followed by a one or two week break before resuming. Because some drug interactions may exist, people on prescription medications should consult a doctor before taking eleuthero supplements.