For couples who have been trying to get pregnant for some time, daily stress can be compounded with the worry that they will never become parents. All this stress packs a punch, and in the end can be detrimental to their ability to conceive. What many of these couples don’t know is that nature is on their side and is there to help. Of the many gifts mother nature provides are herbs that help the body to manage stress.
One of my favorite herbs for helping people with fertility stress is Eleuthero root. Eleuthero root is widely used in the U.S. in formulas to increase strength, manage stress naturally and aid healthy fertility. (Commonly referred to as simply, Eleuthero.)
Native to Eastern Russia, Japan, China and Korea, Eleutherococcus senticosus, is one of the most extensively researched botanicals in the world. Sometimes called “Siberian ginseng,” Eleuthero root is not a true ginseng – it belongs to the same family as Panax ginseng, but it’s not the same species. Its incredible reputation in herbal healing rivals that of its popular Asian and American brothers, and most experienced herbalists consider it an equal.
Early Russian research from the 1950’s suggests Eleuthero root works primarily as an adaptogen herb to help the body resist or adapt to stress. Preliminary tests show it improves the body’s ability to handle physical strain, and improves mental sharpness for people working long hours.
Eleuthero’s Nutrient Profile
Nutritionally, Eleuthero contains Eleutherosides, which are chemically similar to Panax Ginseng’s ginsenosides. Eleutherosides bolster immune defenses, helping autoimmune related fertility issues, they can also help fight the herpes virus, if sexually transmitted infection is disrupting your fertility efforts. Eleuthero root is rich in saponins that help to balance hormones, support the adrenals and benefit energy levels. Glycosides found in Eleuthero root offer antioxidant protection and aid a healthy immune response.
In the world of herbs, Eleuthero root is a major player. Following the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl, people took Eleuthero to combat the effects of radiation and toxic chemicals. Today, it is used to prime the best Russian athletes for Olympic competition.
Eleuthero’s Role on Your Fertility Journey
For fertility, Eleuthero root encourages hormone balance for men and women, increases Qi (vital energy), improves sleep, normalizes appetite, and helps the body to fight stress (a major fertility blocker). Healthy fertility is really the outcome of a healthy, balanced body and Eleuthero root excels in this capacity.
For women: Eleuthero supports healthy menstruation and supports uterine tone. It specifically supports the adrenal glands, (small glands that rest atop the kidneys) which secrete stress-fighting hormones. Eleuthero is ideal to combat infertility-related depression and fatigue, and helps the body rebuild strength after illness or exhaustion.
Eleuthero offers a fertility boost for men, too: In phase 1 clinical trials, the Chinese combination Kan Jang (Andographis/Eleuthero) was found to increase sperm count. Animal studies show it may combat impotence, too.
My Favorite Ways to Use Eleuthero
Like most other adaptogens, Eleuthero is best used for a few months at a time to allow it to build in the system. It works well in capsules or extracts for everyday use. It especially works in synergy with:
1. Royal jelly, propolis and bee pollen in Active Bee Power (delicious added to smoothies, warm tea or eaten by the teaspoon).
2. Eleuthero also combines well with Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), Rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea), Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) and Skullcap (Scutellaria spp.) as a traditional stress relief tonic.
People have been benefiting from Eleuthero for thousands of years, and you can too. A poem from the Chinese Qing Dynasty extols its virtues. In Ode to Wujia by Ye Zhishen, the author declares, “How wonderful is Winzhang grass, the Eleuthero-ginseng… It will keep your virgin face younger. And prolong your life for ever and ever.”
While it may not make you live forever, Eleuthero root has certainly earned its position as an exceptional adaptogen to promote a long and healthy life, and is an important natural fertility aid.
– Dabydov, M and Krikorian, AD. Eleutherococcus senticosus as an adaptogen: a closer look Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 72 (3).
– Page, Linda, Ph.D. & Traditional Naturopath & Sarah Abernathy, Healthy Healing 14th Edition, 2011.
– Mkrtchyan A, Panosyan V, Panossian A, Wikman G, Wagner H. A phase I clinical study of Andrographis paniculata fixed combination Kan Jang versus ginseng and valerian on the semen quality of healthy male subjects Phytomed. 2005;12:403-409.
– Salvati G, Genovesi G, Marcellini L, Paolini P, De Nuccio I, Pepe M, Re M. Effects of Panax Ginseng C.A. Meyer saponins on male fertility. Panminerva Med. 1996 Dec;38(4):249-54.
– Abascal K, Yarnell E. Increased vitality with adaptogens Alternative & Complementary Therapies. 2003; April:54-60.