The Talented Eleutherococcus.

It sounds like a brand-new wonder drug, or one of those bacteria that kills you if you don’t cook your meat properly. Actually, it’s just good old ‘Siberian Ginseng’ and you can buy it easily from any health food shop and most supermarkets. Eleutherococcus is considered by scientists to be an ‘adaptogen’ in that it adapts and moulds its medicinal behaviour to an individual’s needs. It has wide-ranging benefits, especially where endurance sports are concerned.

Research has found Eleutherococcus to provide the following:

· Improved metabolism of oxygen (enhanced oxygen uptake, improvement in total work done in a set time and increased time to exhaustion for a set workload).

· Increase in speed and precision (stimulation of the phosphocreatine (PC) system and lowering of lactic acid levels).

· Reduced recovery time (meaning that you can sustain a higher training load).

· Normalisation of blood pressure (if you have high blood pressure, Eleutherococcus will bring it down. If it’s too low, it will lift it up).

· Enhanced immune function (you’ll fight off colds and infections more effectively).

· Improved ability to acclimatise to hot environments.

· Improvement in insulin sensitivity for diabetics.

· Reduced risk of Coronary Heart Disease.

So how does it work?

In theory, Eleutherococcus is supposed to stimulate the hypothalamus in the brain, which in turn controls the release of cortisol, a hormone that prevents the stress of exercise from damaging the body. This would explain the quicker than normal recovery rates experienced in individuals that take the supplement and also the immunological benefits. Various theories have been proposed linked to the hypothalamus to explain how Eleutherococcus benefits the energy systems of the body, but no underlying mechanism has been determined as yet.

Although many studies have shown Eleutherococcus to have ergogenic (performance enhancing) benefits, a lack of knowledge as to its workings could make you a little cynical, but give it a try and let me know what you think by e-mailing me at the address below. I personally think that if you are going to take a supplement of any kind (other than basic vitamins and minerals), one claiming such a variety of advantages is worthy of a test.