Eleuthero use while Breastfeeding
Medically reviewed on April 11, 2017
Eleuthero Levels and Effects while Breastfeeding
Summary of Use during Lactation
Eleuthero (Eleutherococcus senticosus) is also known as Siberian ginseng, but it is not related to true ginseng and has different constituents. Eleuthero contains eleutherosides--eleutherosides B (syringin) and E (syringaresinol) that are used to identify Siberian ginseng. Some other ingredients are acanthosides, phytosterols, triterpene saponins, dihydrodehydrodiconiferyl alcohol monopyranose, glycosides, 5'-O-caffeoylquinic acid isomers, glucopyranosides, and lignans. Eleuthero has no specific uses during breastfeeding, but is most often used as an adaptogen (i.e., to increase endurance and improve memory). It is also used to boost immunity, and as an antimicrobial and chemoprotectant. However, no good human evidence supports any of these uses. No data exist on the safety and efficacy of eleuthero in nursing mothers or infants. In general, it is well tolerated. It may increase blood pressure, increase bleeding and increase blood sugar. Breast tenderness has been reported. Most sources recommend against the use of eleuthero during breastfeeding because of a lack of safety data.
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Maternal Levels. Relevant published information was not found as of the revision date.
Infant Levels. Relevant published information was not found as of the revision date.
Effects in Breastfed Infants
A mother who took a product labeled as "pure Siberian ginseng" during pregnancy and breastfeeding gave birth to a hirsute Caucasian infant with thick black pubic hair, hair on the whole forehead, swollen red nipples, and enlarged testes. The infant's serum testosterone, cortisol and 17-hydroxyprogesterone were within normal limits. After breastfeeding was stopped at 2 weeks of age, the excess hair began to fall out and was gone by 7.5 weeks of age. Later analysis of the product found that it was not Eleutherococcus, but the bark of the silk vine (Periploca sepium), possibly contaminated with some other unidentified product.
Effects on Lactation and Breastmilk
Relevant published information was not found as of the revision date.
1. Koren G, Randor S, Martin S, Danneman D. Maternal ginseng use associated with neonatal androgenization. JAMA. 1990;264:2866. Letter. PMID: 2232076
2. Waller DP, Martin AM, Farnsworth NR, Awang DV. Lack of androgenicity of Siberian ginseng. JAMA. 1992;267:2329. Letter. PMID: 1564770
3. Foster S, Tyler VE. Tyler's honest herbal. A sensible guide to the use of herbs and related remedies. 4th ed. New York; Haworth Herbal Press. 1999;191.
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