Home > Blog > Stress > A Guide To Supplementing With Siberian Ginseng

A Guide To Supplementing With Siberian Ginseng

Eating a healthy diet that’s rich in all the nutrients your body needs is the best way to be healthy and happy. But sometimes it isn’t enough, and you need a little extra help. Taking supplements like Siberian ginseng can help address underlying problems that are impacting your health and your quality of life. And this supplement in particular may be especially helpful if you are struggling with stress. It may also help address other conditions that could be adding to your stress level and impacting your quality of life.

What is Siberian Ginseng?

An image of a bunch of Siberian ginseng berriesSiberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus) has been used as a remedy in China and Russia for various health problems for many years. Siberian ginseng supplements are made from the root of the plant and contain active ingredients called eleutherosides, which may boost the immune system. This plant also contains polysaccharides, which boosts the immune system and affect blood sugar levels in animal tests.

This plant is also an adaptogen, which means that it may help strengthen your body so that it copes better with stress. This is an important attribute if you have Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS) or just lead a busy life and need some stress relief. Supplements made from this plant have been used for:

  • High blood pressure
  • Colds
  • Hardening of the arteries
  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Tuberculosis
  • Diabetes
  • High cholesterol
  • Low blood pressure
  • Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Rheumatic heart disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Treating side effects of chemotherapy
  • Boosting athletic performance
  • Sleeping problems
  • Herpes symptoms
  • Increasing appetite

However, the evidence supporting the benefits of this supplement for these conditions is sometimes incomplete. Further research must be done to understand how this plant can benefit your health.

The Tested Benefits of Siberian Ginseng

Siberian ginseng has undergone testing, mostly in Russia. However, more research is necessary to confirm the benefits of this supplement. At this stage, the evidence is showing that it could be helpful for:

Herpes Infections

One study has shown that this supplement can reduce the number of outbreaks in people with the herpes simplex virus (HSV) type 2. Outbreaks that did occur also tended to be less severe and lasted for a shorter time in people taking this supplement.


Studies show that this supplement may reduce the severity of colds as well as their longevity when taken within 72 hours of the first symptoms. However, in the study, this supplement was taken with Andrographis, a herb which also affects the longevity and severity of colds.


In study participants with type II diabetes, this supplement appears to decrease blood sugar levels.


An image of germs surrounding a T-cellOne study has shown that Siberian ginseng may boost the immune system. In the study, otherwise healthy people showed an increased number of T-cells, one of the most powerful components of the immune response.

Bipolar Disorder

Studies have shown that taking this supplement seems to result in a response and remission rate similar to more traditional medications. However, if you have bipolar disorder, do not stop any medications prescribed by your doctor or add ginseng without medical advice and assistance.

Mental Performance and Health

There is some limited evidence that this supplement may improve memory. In older people, it may also improve mental health and social functioning, though these benefits vanish after around 8 weeks.

Athletic Performance

Some studies have found that this supplement may boost athletic performance and muscle strength. However, the data about these benefits is limited.

This supplement may also have benefits for AFS and its associated symptoms and problems.

The Link Between Stress and AFS

Finding ways to reduce or eliminate the effects that stress has on your body is very important when you have AFS. A certain amount of stress is normal and even healthy for the body. This type of stress is usually resolved by the NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) stress response without you even being aware of it. When you’re under stress, the NEM stress response makes changes through the 6 associated circuits that protect your body from the harmful effects of stress and prepare your body for the effort to escape the cause of the stress.

However, the stress in the modern world is often low-grade and constant and the NEM stress response just isn’t designed to cope with this kind of ongoing stress. As a result, the NEM stress response becomes overworked. This fatigues the adrenal glands, which excrete cortisol, an essential hormone in the stress response. Cortisol affects every circuit in the body, causing a variety of changes. Typically, these circuits would then go back to normal once the stress was resolved.

But when stress is chronic, it’s never resolved. As a result, the unnatural functioning of the circuits causes them to become unbalanced. And the ongoing high demand for cortisol causes the adrenals to fatigue and then start to break down. This is when the situation can get very unhealthy and dangerous.

Siberian Ginseng and AFS

If Siberian ginseng can help strengthen your body and improve stress resistance, then it could be very helpful when you have AFS. Although it may not lower your stress levels directly, improving your body’s condition may help to relieve some of the negative symptoms and problems that you experience because of stress. As an adaptogen, it can help lower your stress levels naturally. However beware that ginseng can also be stimulating, so shouldn't be used in later stages of adrenal fatigue where sufferers are much more sensitive to supplements and its effects.

It may also help more specifically with the following issues:

Immune System Dysfunction

When you have AFS, you may experience frequent or lingering infections of all types. This occurs because of dysfunctions and imbalances in the immune system. This often results in rampant inflammation, which causes additional stress, and lowers the immune response. For a lot of people with AFS, this means you get more infections that your body struggles to clear.

By boosting the immune system, ginseng may help to correct this problem. And if you have fewer infections and colds, your stress levels will decrease and help alleviate your adrenal fatigue.

However, you will need to be careful with this strategy. When you have AFS, your immune system may already be in overdrive because of your body’s high cortisol levels. So, increasing your immune response may make any immune system dysfunctions worse, increasing your stress levels, and making your AFS worse as well.

Stress Resistance

It’s impossible to measure someone’s stress resistance at this stage of medical knowledge. Everyone has a different stress resistance level. Some people can handle high-stress situations without the slightest problem, others tend to struggle at much lower levels. Your stress resistance is probably dependent on several factors including your overall physical and mental condition.

Your stress resistance is pivotal to your AFS and if Siberian ginseng can improve the strength of your body and your stress resistance, it could be very beneficial in your recovery journey.

Mental Health

There are lots of mental health issues associated with AFS including brain fog, memory problems, and mood disorders. This supplement may help to alleviate these problems at least a small amount, letting you get back to nearly normal functioning again.

Blood Sugar Spikes

Unstable blood sugar levels are a key symptom of AFS due to dysfunctions with the NEM stress response as well as the strategies many people employ to overcome symptoms. This type of ginseng may help to stabilize those levels, again reducing stress and promoting overall health.

These benefits may seem quite small, but it all adds up when you have AFS. By alleviating symptoms and problems, you will reduce your stress levels. This will help to lower your body’s demand for cortisol and ease the strain on the NEM stress response. As a result, the circuits involved in the NEM stress response will have the time and space to rebalance and return to a healthier state of functioning. And this is the overarching goal of AFS recovery and will start you on the path to a healthier, less stress-filled life.

The Dangers of Supplementing With AFS

An image of a woman taking a supplement as she smilesHowever, you need to be careful when supplementing when you have AFS. It causes your entire body to become oversensitive, which means you can have a bad reaction even to normally harmless substances. AFS can even cause your body to have paradoxical reactions to supplements, which means that your stress resistance may be lower. Both of these situations will cause additional stress and may even lead to adrenal collapse, which is a very dangerous and frightening situation.

That’s why it’s important that you talk to a medical professional who’s aware of your condition and can help guide your recovery before you try any supplements. This is the best way to ensure that you’re adopting strategies that will help rather than hurt your overall condition. Supplementing with this type of ginseng can also be dangerous even if you don’t have adrenal fatigue.

Side Effects and Warnings

If you’re thinking of taking Siberian ginseng, then make sure that you talk to your doctor first. This supplement can cause side effects, so make sure that you get expert advice before trying it.

If you have any of the following conditions, then you should avoid this supplement unless otherwise told by your doctor:

  • Heart disease
  • Mental illnesses such as mania or schizophrenia
  • Sleep apnea
  • High blood pressure
  • Narcolepsy
  • Autoimmune diseases such as Crohn's disease or rheumatoid arthritis
  • Estrogen-sensitive cancers
  • Uterine fibroids

Pregnant women or women who are breastfeeding should also avoid this supplement.

Side Effects

Siberian ginseng can also cause side effects of varying intensities. If you notice any of these effects, then stop taking the supplement and consult your doctor:

  • Insomnia
  • Confusion
  • Drowsiness
  • Headaches
  • Nosebleed
  • Vomiting
  • High blood pressure
  • Irregular heart rhythms

Medication Interactions

Siberian ginseng can interact with other medications, so make sure you talk to your doctor if you’re taking any of the following:

  • Corticosteroids
  • Digoxin
  • Medications for diabetes
  • Anticoagulants
  • Lithium
  • Sedatives
  • Any medications that are broken down by the liver

Siberian ginseng can interfere with these medications, impede how they’re broken down, or negate or intensify their effects. This can be very dangerous, so your doctor must be aware that you’re taking any of these medications if you’re thinking of trying this supplement.

Taking Supplements Safely

If you decide to try Siberian ginseng supplements, then make sure that you talk to your doctor first. This supplement is available in capsules, tablets, powders, liquid extracts, and solid extracts as well as teas. However, the quality tends to vary widely, and often fillers are put into the supplements. These usually have no health benefits and may cause reactions, so make sure you get your supplements from a reputable supplier.

These supplements should not be given to children. Make sure you listen to your doctor and his/her recommended doses when taking ginseng. Start with the lowest recommended dose to test for side effects and then increase the dose slowly if necessary.


Whether you have AFS or not, you always need to be careful when taking supplements, even those that seem right for your condition such as Siberian ginseng. This supplement can be very helpful in stress management and other conditions, but before you take it make sure that you:

An image of a woman working on her laptop holding her head

  1. Talk to your doctor to ensure that it won’t interfere with any conditions you have or medications you’re taking.
  2. Discontinue use immediately if you notice any adverse effects.
  3. Start with the lowest possible dose and see how your body reacts before increasing the dose if necessary.

If you need more help managing stress and AFS, the team at Dr. Lam Coaching can help. We offer a free** no-obligation phone consultation at +1-626-571-1234 where we privately discuss your issue. You can also send us a question through our Ask The Doctor system by clicking here.

© Copyright 2021 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.

Dr. Lam’s Key Question

Siberian ginseng can improve the overall condition of your body and improve stress resistance. But, this won’t affect the amount of stress you’re exposed to. Still, it may serve to improve your condition by alleviating some of the stress that’s generated internally. However, you should always supplement with medical guidance.

Are You Ready to Start Your
Adrenal Fatigue Recovery Journey?