Myths and facts in herbal medicines: Eleutherococcus senticosus (Siberian ginseng) and its contraindication in hypertensive patients
Mathias Schmidt,1 Michael Thomsen,2 Olaf Kelber,3 Karin Kraft4
1Herbresearch Germany, Mattsies, Germany; 2Herbresearch Pty Ltd, South Hobart, Tasmania, Australia; 3Scientific Department, Steigerwald Arzneimittelwerk GmbH, Darmstadt, Germany; 4Universitätsmedizin Rostock, Rostock, Germany
Background: Eleutherococcus senticosus radix (also known as “Siberian ginseng” or “eleuthero”) is used as a medicinal plant in cases of asthenia with fatigue and weakness, a condition especially common in elderly patients. Most reviews and monographs state the contraindication “arterial hypertension”. This excludes many elderly patients from therapy with eleuthero, as the prevalence of arterial hypertension in this age group is high. The origin and substantiation of this contraindication appears, however, unclear.
Methods: Available data on eleuthero in the context of hypertension was searched and evaluated systematically for an increase in blood pressure after application of corresponding preparations.
Results: Numerous clinical and preclinical studies with eleuthero, as well as reviews and monographs were identified. All sources directly or indirectly refer to only two Russian publications from 1966, presented to the Western world in a review in 1985. Later citations of these two Russian sources tended to mix up the results described therein, frequently indicating the observation of secured adverse effects in hypertensive patients. Such warnings are neither in accordance with the original data, nor are they supported by other published data, which rather point to potential antihypertensive effects.
Conclusion: The contraindication “arterial hypertension” is not evidence-based and should be carefully re-evaluated for not unnecessarily excluding a large patient group from the benefits of eleuthero.
Keywords: Eleutherococcus senticosus, Siberian ginseng, eleuthero, arterial hypertension, contraindication
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