In: Drugs and Lactation Database (LactMed®) [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): National Institute of Child Health and Human Development; 2006.


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.

Dietary supplements do not require extensive pre-marketing approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Manufacturers are responsible to ensure the safety, but do not need to prove the safety and effectiveness of dietary supplements before they are marketed. Dietary supplements may contain multiple ingredients, and differences are often found between labeled and actual ingredients or their amounts. A manufacturer may contract with an independent organization to verify the quality of a product or its ingredients, but that does not certify the safety or effectiveness of a product. Because of the above issues, clinical testing results on one product may not be applicable to other products. More detailed information about dietary supplements is available elsewhere on the LactMed Web site.

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