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(Rupr. & Maxim.) Maxim.
Eleutherococcus senticosus is a species of small, woody shrub in the family Araliaceae native to Northeastern Asia. It is often colloquially referred to as Siberian Ginseng, eleuthero or Ciwujia. E. senticosus has a history of use in traditional Chinese medicine where it is known as cì wǔ jiā (刺五加).
E. senticosus has been marketed in the United States as Siberian Ginseng because it is believed to have similar herbal properties to those of Panax ginseng. However, it belongs to a different genus in the family Araliaceae, and it is currently illegal in the United States to market eleuthero as Siberian Ginseng, since the term "ginseng" is reserved for the Panax species.
The herb grows in mixed and coniferous mountain forests, forming low undergrowth or is found in groups in thickets and edges. E. senticosus is sometimes found in oak groves at the foot of cliffs, very rarely in high forest riparian woodland. Its native habitat is East Asia, China, Japan, and Russia. E. senticosus is broadly tolerant of soils, growing in sandy, loamy, and heavy clay soils with acid, neutral, or alkaline chemistry and including soils of low nutritional value. It can tolerate sun or dappled shade and some degree of pollution. E. senticosus is a deciduous shrub growing to 2m at a slow rate. It is hardy to zone 3. It flowers in July in most habitats. The flowers are hermaphroditic and are pollinated by insects.
In Chinese herbology, E. senticosis is used by people with bone marrow suppression caused by chemotherapy or radiation, angina, hypercholesterolemia, and neurasthenia with headache, insomnia, and poor appetite.
Extracts of E. senticosus have been shown to have a variety of biological effects in vitro or in animal models, but these effects have not been demonstrated in humans:
- increased endurance/anti-fatigue 
- memory/learning improvement
- anti-inflammatory 
- antidepressant-like effects in rats
Interactions and side effects
- People with medicated high blood pressure should consult their doctor before taking E. senticosus because it may potentiate the medications' side effects.
- E. senticosus, when purchased from non-GMP sources, has occasionally been adulterated with Periploca graeca, which can potentiate digoxin or similar drugs; however, this is not an interaction of E. senticosus.
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- University of Maryland Alternative Medicine Reference
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