From Science Daily
In most of the human studies published so far, extracts of Eleutherococcus senticosus – a plant you may recognise under the name of Siberian ginseng – have shown no performance enhancing effects. Despite this, Asian scientists in particular continue to study the ergogenic effects of Eleutherococcus senticosus. And the efforts of the sports scientists at Zhengzhou University in China have been successful.
Eleutherococcus senticosus is also referred to in modern publications as Acanthopanax senticosus. While the plant is not related to Ginseng, its extracts resemble those of Ginseng in that they are believed to have an adaptogenic effect: they may help organisms to function better when subjected to stress.
Researchers have identified a few dozen interested compounds in Eleutherococcus senticosus which may protect against stress. A number of these, the eleutherosides, are specific to Eleutherococcus senticosus. The diagram shows an example: eleutheroside E.
The researchers performed experiments using male mice. For a period of four weeks the animals were given nothing [First], 100 mg Eleutherococcus senticosus extract per kg per day [Second], 200 mg extract per kg per day [Third] or 400 mg extract per kg per day [Fourth]. For an adult weighing 80 kg these doses correspond to 650, 1300 and 2600 mg Eleutherococcus senticosusextract per day.
The researchers used water-based extracts they had made themselves using Eleutherococcus senticosus bark. They bought their raw materials at a local market.
At the end of the four weeks the researchers tied a weight to the tail of each animal, threw them in an aquarium and timed how long the mice were able to swim for. The more Eleutherococcus senticosus the mice had been given, the greater their endurance capacity.
The more Eleutherococcus senticosus the mice had been given, the less protein waste [urea nitrogen] the researchers found in the mice's blood after the swimming test. Less urea means less fatigue, and can be an indication of reduced protein breakdown.
After the swimming test the researchers also found less lactic acid [lactate] in the mice's blood, the more Eleutherococcus senticosus they had been given. Less lactic acid in the blood means less fatigue. In addition, the lower lactic acid levels in the experimental group suggest that Eleutherococcus senticosus supplementation saves carbohydrates.
The researchers found confirmation of this theory when they measured the concentration of glycogen in the liver and muscles of the mice after they had done the swimming test. The level was higher in the animals that had been given Eleutherococcus senticosus.
Aha. So Eleutherococcus senticosus supplementation may help muscles to burn more fatty acids during physical exertion. This would back up the findings of a Taiwanese human study that we wrote about a year ago.
"Extracts of stem bark from Acanthopanax senticosus [Eleutherococcus senticosus] could extend the swimming time to exhaustion of the mice, as well as increase the tissue glycogen contents, and decrease the blood lactate and serum urea nitrogen contents", the researchers write in their summary. "These results indicated that Acanthopanax senticosus extracts had anti-fatigue activity and could elevate exercise tolerance. However, further studies are necessary to clarify the detailed mechanism(s) involved in the anti-fatigue properties of Acanthopanax senticosus extracts."
Molecules. 2010 Dec 24;16(1):28-37.