Nature: sweet, slightly bitter, warm
Enters: Spleen, Lung, Heart, Kidney
Actions: Tonifies Spleen, Lung, and Kidney Qi; quiets the Shen.
• Qi deficiency: fatigue
• Generally indicated for any pain.
• Our understanding of this herb (as discriminated from Wu jia pi) is fairly modern, and largely informed by the Russian research into and use of the herb.
Eric Brand: from this Blue Poppy blog, citing his own Concise Chinese Materia Medica (with Nigel Wiseman)
• Boosts qì and fortifies the spleen: Lung and spleen qì vacuity.
Cì w? ji? treats simple patterns of spleen qì vacuity or lung qì vacuity. It not only supplements spleen qì and boosts lung qì, but also dispels phlegm and calms panting.
Dual vacuity of the lung and spleen, manifesting in fatigue and lack of strength, poor appetite, and enduring cough or vacuity panting: Use alone or in combination with medicinals such as w? wèi z? (Schisandrae Fructus), tài z? sh?n (Pseudostellariae Radix), and bái gu? (Ginkgo Semen).
• Supplements the kidney: Aching lumbus and knees in kidney vacuity. Cì w? ji? warms and assists yáng qì while strengthening sinew and bone.
Aching lumbus and knees due to insufficiency of kidney yáng depriving the sinews and bones of nourishment: Use alone or in conjunction with medicinals such as dù zhòng (Eucommiae Cortex) and s?ng jì sh?ng (Taxilli Herba).
Cì w? ji? is also used to treat impotence, slowness to walk in children, and wind-damp impediment (bì) patterns with concurrent liver-kidney vacuity.
• Quiets the spirit: Heart and spleen insufficiency, manifesting in insomnia or forgetfulness.
Cì w? ji? supplements heart and spleen qì while quieting the spirit and sharpening the wits (improving mental faculties). It boosts qì to engender blood, and is indicated for insomnia or forgetfulness due to dual vacuity of the heart and spleen depriving the heart spirit of nourishment. For this purpose, combine it with medicinals such as hé sh?u w? (Polygoni Multiflori Radix), su?n z?o rén (Ziziphi Spinosi Semen), shí ch?ng pú (Acori Tatarinowii Rhizoma), and yu?n zhì (Polygalae Radix).
BII: Adaptogen: increases humans’ ability to withstand adverse physical conditions, increases mental alertness and work output, increases quality of work under stressful conditions, and improves athletic performance. Also has adaptogenic activity in disease states.
• Virtually nontoxic.
• Useful mainly in fatigue, depression, immunodepression.
PPP: Assists the body to counteract and adapt to stress of many origins; restores and strengthens the body’s immune response; increases vitality.
• Improves mental and physical performance.
• Used to minimize the effects of stress in those subject to chronic illness or to environmental or occupational stress: spares the adrenal glands, promotes self-repair mechanism to enhance resistance to radiation and chemical carcinogens. Compared to Ren shen, Ren shen confers a direct resistance to cells by altering cell physiology whereas the improved survival from eleutherococcus is via an indirect action on the whole organism.
• Used to improve performance and minimize the effects of stress in athletes. In studies, improved speed of runners, maximal work capacity of athletes, and enhanced muscle strength.
• Enhances immune function, especially natural killer cells and T-helper cells. Stimulates immunity against bacteria and viruses.
• May heighten protective activity of the anticoagulant system, improve repair of heart muscle. May provide greater oxygen metabolism and increase conversion of fat into glycogen for energy. May counter the effects of cerebral ischemia. Atherosclerotic patients and those with rheumatic heart lesions show an improvement in cardiovascular function and general well-being when taking eleutherococcus.
• Patients with chronic bronchitis, pneumoconiosis, and pneumonia show improved well-being and Lung capacity when taking eleutherococcus.
• Eleutherococcus lowers blood pressure in hypertension and raises low blood pressure (e.g. in hypotensive children).
• Cancer: Eleutherococcus enhances non-specific immunity and minimizes side effects from radiation, chemotherapy, and surgery, improves healing and well-being.
• Eleutherococcus has been found to inhibit spontaneous malignant tumors and tumors induced by a number of carcinogens. It also led to decreased transplantability of tumors in mice and inhibition of metastases in some cases. Components of eleutherococcus exert an antiproliferative action upon some cancer cells. Eleutherococcus potentiates the effect of some cytotoxic drugs, thereby reducing the amount of drug needed. Eleutherococcus lowered the occurrence of chromosomal mutations and increased the survival rate of plants exposed to mutagens.
• Convalescence after antibiotic therapy: Eleutherococcus has demonstrated a beneficial effect on antibiotic-induced diarrhea during convalescence.
• Adjuvant treatment in dysentery.
• Compared to Panax [true Ginseng]: Unlike ginseng, eleutherococcus rarely causes excitation or a stress-like syndrome in patients. Eleutherococcus has a more general effect on immunity than ginseng. Eleutherococcus causes a more profound increase in stamina than ginseng.
• Caution: sometimes species of Periploca – an inferior and toxic herb – are substituted for eleutherococcus.
• Recommended regime for healthy people is a course of 6 weeks followed by a 2 week break. For treatment of specific illnesses, continuous use is preferable.
Does eleuthero leaf (Ci Wu Jia Ye) have the same properties as eleuthero root?
I haven’t found any information in herbal medicine texts about this, but if we agree that the presence of eleutherosides indicates adaptogenic value (though I’d rather just ask locals who have been using it for centuries what they think), then it looks like the stem could be as potent, if not more, than the root. I don’t know about the leaves though.
Here’s an abstract that is more about comparing species, but alludes to the presence in aerial parts: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/287469715_Determination_of_eleutherosides_B_and_E_in_various_parts_of_Acanthopanax_species
One that compares eleutheroside presence in different parts, and, oddly, looks only at stem, not root: https://www.hindawi.com/journals/tswj/2014/515291/
Another showing highest levels in stem, not root. This one mentions leaves also, but it’s hard to tell without looking at the full text, what the leaf findings were. They say in table 2 that the leaves yielded a lot of extract, but I don’t know if they mean that in terms of eleutherosides and beta glucan. I’ll let you dig through it. https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Determination-of-Eleutherosides-and-%CE%B2-Glucan-from-A-Kim-Bae/61a317343c73ce219d85d559fb187f6481a83289