Does Eleuthero Belong in Your Cold Remedy Kit?
Here are some common names by which eleuthero has been known historically:
Ci Wu Jia, Devil’s Shrub, Eleutherococcus, Siberian Ginseng, Touch-Me-Not
Its botanical names include:
acanthopanax senticosus, eleutherococcus senticosus
It’s cold season right now and many of us have had to deal with the coughing, aching, sneezing type symptoms we’ve come to know are part of catching the common cold, but if we just take a few simple actions we may be able to “knock out” the annoying common cold faster than usual and shorten its duration, even if we can’t cure it!
The following list includes some common sense tips which may be helpful to review here (and yes I know there are tons more but I must share with you that while I was researching this list, I was reminded of a very interesting herb which is known in Chinese Medicine, as Kan Jang or simply, eleuthero!) So while you peruse these simple tips you might want to consider doing a bit of research on eleuthero, see if it resonates with you and if it does then keep this herb on hand to add to your home remedy tool kit.
When we first feel the symptoms of catching a cold, what do we do first?
At the first sign of a cold be sure to just slow down and rest, as it is vital to give your body some down time to help it fight off the cold virus. So keep warm and snuggle up in bed! If you don’t you may be headed for secondary, more complicated infections. In fact a cold may be the body’s way to slow you down so you stop driving yourself into exhaustion.
2. Brush your teeth
Brush your teeth with a non-fluoridated toothpaste and include a bit of baking soda on your brush. This simple act may help prevent your cold from going into pneumonia. The baking soda also helps to alkalize your mouth a bit. There is tons of research on the merits of alkalizing our systems a bit above the normal range, as acidity is the natural environment of most disease conditions.
Some studies have shown that people with deep gum pockets at their gum line are more likely to have their colds move into pneumonia. This occurs since these bugs love to hide in these deep pockets. Also be sure to throw away your old toothbrush once you have recovered from your cold or flu. The same bugs that were involved when you got sick can hide in your toothbrush and return to re-infect you. So therefore be sure you brush your teeth at least twice a day. You can also brush your tongue to get rid of that furry feeling but please don’t forget to floss, because gum infections can raise your risk of heart attack and stroke. Poor oral health habits have been linked to obesity, dementia, pre-term births and underweight babies.
3. Drop sugar and fructose from your diet!
Sugar (almost all of it) serves as fuel for the bacteria that can damage your teeth and boost your risk of disease. Take away the bugs’ fuel, and they die. It is also said that sugar and starches (grains such as wheat, corn, soy) are the fuel cancerous tumors love best whereas quality proteins and healthy fats starve these vary same tumors.
4. Drink those fluids!
Be sure to drink plenty of purified water (not tap) and other clear fluids to help thin down the amount of mucus the cold is producing. I like organic unpasteurized apple juice as it is also soothing to the gallbladder, along with herbal teas such as chamomile. You can dilute your juices with purified water 50-50, as well.
Homemade organic chicken or vegetable soup, with fresh garlic and ginger included is comforting and light but skip any addition of grain, noodles or potatoes…no crackers or matzo ball either, as it is the broth that seems to really help a cold or flu. The more we learn about grains, with the exception of quinoa and amaranth the more we know the havoc they play on our health.
You might consider eating only organic grapes between your soup meals. The ancients fasted on grapes as a cleanse. I have done this too but please do not combine them with other fruits or foods. Simply eat them alone and allow them to digest before eating your soup (or anything else for that matter). I have done a three day grape cleanse and felt invigorated by it. We don’t want to slow the body’s ability to heal by overworking it with too much food or with foods that are difficult to digest. But please check with your health care practitioner before making any radical change to your diet.
It is so important to stay hydrated, I cannot stress it enough, especially if running a lowgrade fever, which is the body’s natural way to help burn up the infection. I like to massage topical magnesium oil into my skin all over and then head for my home Far Infra Red portable sauna unit to get nice and warm. A 3o minute session is about right and I then follow up with a not too hot bath to which I add baking soda for a bit of an alkaline water therapy treatment.
I had a wonderful MD once upon a time who taught me to get onto my stationary bike and do 30 minutes of aerobic exercise to raise my body temperature to help burn off a cold when I would first feel it coming on. Many savvy health practitioners today recommend not suppressing a fever with aspirin or Tylenol. But again please check with your doctor about this as a high fever is something to take very seriously and medical attention should be sought. We are all so different that it is important to respect those differences and act accordingly.
5. Should I take some extra vitamin C?
Some experts feel that taking 1 to 4 grams a day of vitamin C may make your cold shorter in duration and be less severe. I like the natural forms of ascorbic acid such as, acerola and rose hips as I always prefer the natural to the synthetic in everything I put in my body or recommend to my clients. Here is a link to some great information on vitamin C.
Despite the popular belief that vitamin C can cure the common cold, the scientific evidence doesn’t support the notion. Taking vitamin C supplements regularly (not just at the beginning of a cold) produces only a small reduction in the duration of a cold (about 1 day). The only other piece of evidence supporting vitamin C for preventing colds comes from studies examining people exercising in extreme environments (athletes such as skiers and marathon runners, and soldiers in the Arctic). In these studies, vitamin C did seem to reduce the risk of getting a cold. But let’s not rule out the placebo effect here as the mind is still responsible for everything working or not working either consciously or subconsciously.
6. How about taking echinacea?
At the first signs of a cold, it has been recommended that you might consider taking 3 to 5 ml of this herb every two hours and that this will seem to make your cold less severe.
I have found that there are some great natural combination wellness formula supplements at health food stores but it is important to read the labels very carefully or ask your health practitioner what he/she might recommend as they have access to professional lines that cannot be found in stores. I do like to see vitamin D included in these formulas as well, especially if we are not getting natural sunlight on our bodies for about 10 minutes per day without sunscreen.
7. What about zinc lozenges?
Zinc lozenges containing zinc gluconate, zinc gluconate-glycine, or zinc acetate, providing 13 to 25 mg every two hours, may be of help in order to help your body to get the virus under control and shorten the duration of your cold. The lozenges can also be soothing to a scratchy throat. Elderberry extract is also said to be effective in a lozenge.
8. Eleuthero is a little known cold remedy which can be quite effective.
Eleuthero is native to the Taiga region of the Far East (the southeastern part of Russia, northern China, Korea, and Japan). The root and the rhizomes (underground stem) are used medicinally.
Although not as popular as Asian Ginseng, eleuthero’s use dates back 2,000 years, according to Chinese medicinal records. It is also referred to as ci wu jia in Chinese medicine, where it has been used to prevent respiratory tract infections, such as colds and flu.
Eleuthero is also believed to provide energy and vitality. In Russia, eleuthero was used by people in the Siberian Taiga region to increase performance and quality of life besides decreasing infections. In more modern times, eleuthero has been used to increase stamina and endurance in Soviet Olympic athletes.
Russian explorers, divers, sailors, and miners also used eleuthero to prevent stress related illness.
After the Chernobyl incident, many Russian and Ukrainian citizens were given eleuthero to counteract the effects of radiation.
Eleuthero’s Latin name is andrographis paniculata or it can also be found with the name Kan Jang which is a medicinal herb from the Chinese Medical tradition which has been used to help treat fever, sore throat and other respiratory and gastrointestinal conditions.
Eleutherococcus senticosus, is also known as acanthopanax senticosus or Siberian Ginseng or again as, Kan Jang. Many people take a standardized extract providing at least 48 mg per day of andrographolides, with or without the addition of Eleuthero extract (Kan Jang).
I have purchased eleuthero from Gaia herbs where it is simply labeled as Eleuthero Root and have had good results with this herb. I do find that it does seem to reduce the duration and severity of a cold.
How does eleuthero work?
The constituents in eleuthero that have been most studied are the eleutherosides. Seven primary eleutherosides have been identified, with most of the research attention focusing on eleutherosides B and E. Eleuthero which also contains complex polysaccharides, which are complex sugar molecules are constituents that are said to play a critical role in eleuthero’s ability to support the immune system.
Eleuthero is said to be an “adaptogen.” What does that mean?
In herbal medicine an “adaptogen” means that it is an agent that helps the body adapt to stress. Adaptogens such as eleuthero are thought to help keep various body systems—including the immune system—functioning optimally.
There is also evidence reported that “adaptogenic” herbs such as eleuthero have an immunomodulating effect and help support the normal function of the body’s hormonal stress system.
In herbal medicine, it is thought that eleuthero can be of help to also support adrenal gland function when the body is challenged by stress and whose isn’t these days?
There are so many herbs available today and many are highly touted but eleuthero has been shown to enhance mental acuity. Writers like eleuthero for concentration and fitness experts like it for physical endurance without the letdown that comes from that which we get from fully leaded coffee, or other caffeinated products.
What else is eleuthero helpful for besides the common cold?
Research has shown that eleuthero improves the use of oxygen by the exercising muscle. This means that a person is able to maintain aerobic exercise longer and recover from workouts more quickly.
Eleuthero may also support the body by helping the liver detoxify harmful toxins and this may be an important adjunct preventative to help protect our gallbladders. See my other supplement recommendations for gallbladder disease.
How do we take eleuthero?
Eleuthero can be obtain dried, as a powdered root and rhizomes, at a dosage of 2 to 3 grams per day, and this dosage is commonly recommended by herbalists. Alternatively, 300 to 400 mg per day of concentrated solid extract standardized on eleutherosides B and E can be used in capsule form, also as an alcohol-based extract, 8 to 10 ml in two to three divided dosages. Kan Jang’s formula combines an andrographis extract with an eleuthero extract providing 2 to 2.4 mg of eleutherosides daily.
Historically, eleuthero is taken continuously for six to eight weeks, followed by a one-to two-week break before resuming.
Are there drugs that are contraindicated with eleuthero?
Check this list at evitamins.com for the drugs that are contraindicated whilst taking eleuthero.
Are there any side effects to worry about with eleuthero?
Reported side effects have been minimal with use of eleuthero. Mild, transient diarrhea has been reported in a very small number of users. Eleuthero may cause insomnia in some people if taken too close to bedtime. If you read the possible side effects on an over the counter drug for colds these side effects will be overwhelming vs. the ones listed here for eleuthero.
Eleuthero is not recommended for people with uncontrolled high blood pressure. Although there are no known reasons to avoid eleuthero during pregnancy and breast-feeding, pregnant or breast-feeding women should be aware that some products available today may be adulterated with herbs that should not be taken in pregnancy, such as Asian Ginseng. Only eleuthero from a trusted source should be used and if pregnant or nursing always check with your health care practitioner first who may be able to direct you to the best brands for you personally as quality varies in the herb and supplement industry, greatly.
Feel better soon!