Ginseng: More Than Just An Energy Drink Ingredient?
07/11/2012 | 12:39 PM
Ginseng is a powerful medicinal herb that has been cultivated for centuries. Understanding its many uses can be a great benefit for health and wellness.
Ginseng is probably the most well known of all the traditional Chinese herbs, and because of this, it has a large body of scientific data clarifying how it helps a number of health concerns. The name "ginseng" is used to refer to both American (Panax quinquefolius) and Asian or Korean ginseng (Panax ginseng), which belong to same genus and have nearly identical chemical make-up. Both are brown colored, gnarled root. Ginseng is different to Siberian ginseng, which Eleutherococcus senticosus is a different plant with different effects.
Ginseng is commonly known for being an energizer or rejuvenator. It has been used by people to increase their energy and promote wellbeing. It can also be used for other health problems like high blood sugar, colds, flu, stress, erectile dysfunction and menopausal syndrome, and for this reason it is sometimes called an “all healing herb".
Ginsenoside is the main active ingredient of ginseng. Ginsenosides affect the adrenal glands, helping them manage stress in the body. There are studies that show that ginsenosides can increase the brain’s neurotransmitter activity and protein synthesis. Ginsenosides are used to enhance concentration and cognition, and restore memory, which may be caused by poor blood supply to the brain.
Ginseng is rich in Vitamin A and B 6 and zinc, which aid in boosting the body’s defense against diseases. Ginseng also contains anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant ingredients.
- Ginseng is good for immune system health: Studies show that ginseng can increase stamina and energy levels. By boosting energy, it can help the body fight illness more effectively.
- Ginseng provides energy: Ginseng is well known as an energy booster, which is why it is used in many energy drinks.
- Ginseng improves cognition: By providing the energy that the body needs, ginseng can make people more alert and improve cognition. The University of Maryland Medical Center reports that people taking ginseng demonstrate increased memory, better concentration and an improved ability to think abstractly.
- Ginseng can helps diabetics: There are studies that show that ginseng can decrease or stabilize the blood sugar. Studies have found it helps the pancreas function properly and increases the body’s response to insulin by stimulating the insulin receptors.
- Ginseng can help prevent cancer: The ginsenosides are said to be effective at preventing the growth of cancer cells in the body. Studies have found that ginseng may help to shrink tumors and prevent cancers of the stomach, ovaries, liver and lungs. In addition, ginseng may help with some of the side effects of radiation and chemotherapy, so talk to your doctor or naturopathic doctor if you wish to use compliment your radiation and chemotherapy with this alternative treatment.
- Ginseng helps reduce cell aging: By boosting the blood supply, ginseng may help slow cell aging and mental degeneration, according to preliminary studies. However, more research is needed.
- Stress: Ginseng has been long used to fight stress and its harmful effects. It is known as an adaptogen, a compound that can help fight mental and physical stress.
- Cancer: Ginsenoside are potent against preventing the growth of cancer cells in the body. Studies have shown that those people who take ginseng regularly have 70% less chance of developing cancer in their body.
- Menopause symptoms: Women may experience hot flashes, insomnia, vaginal dryness, and other symptoms during menopause. Using ginseng can help in preventing these symptoms by helping regulate menopausal hormones.
- High Cholesterol: Ginseng has saponins that stimulate the transport of cholesterol and the enzymes that are related to the metabolism of cholesterol. Saponins can reduce the amount of bad cholesterol in the blood while keeping the good cholesterol, according to the National Institutes of Health.
- Erectile Dysfunction: Ginseng contains components that boost the output of nitric oxide in the organ. Nitric oxide can help in fighting erectile dysfunction. In studies conducted, men who previously had erectile dysfunction could have better erection scores and get sexual satisfaction after eight weeks of using ginseng. Nitric oxide allows the blood to flow in the organ and relaxes the organ’s arteries.
- Insomnia: Ginseng gives the body energy, making it more alert and attentive. This could lead insomnia, so avoid taking just before bed.
- Hypoglycemia: Low blood sugar levels are most likely to happen if diabetics are not careful when using ginseng. If taken with blood sugar lowering drugs, hypoglycemia could happen, so talk to your doctor if diabetic or on hypoglycemic drugs.
- Bleeding: Since ginseng can improve the blood flow, it can also reduce blood clotting. Therefore, it is not advisable to use ginseng if a person is planning to have an operation or surgery anytime soon, or if taking blood-thinning medications.
- Drug interaction: There are some drug interactions between ginseng and some prescription medicines. If you are taking medications for diabetes, cholesterol, monoamne oxidase inhibitors; morphine; blood pressure medications; heart and blood pressure medications; stimulants, including caffeine; and blood thinners---even aspirin, talk to our doctor or naturopathic doctor about ginseng. It could cause a drug interaction.
Ginseng has been used in Asian medicine for thousands of years, and a growing body of scientific research shows how it can be used for a number of health conditions. If your ginseng extract has between 5 and 7 percent ginsenosides, it is recommended to take between 200 and 500 milligrams daily. For non standardized extract and the root, it is recommended that you take 2-3 grams daily. If you are taking any prescription medications or have any chronic health complaints, talk to your doctor or naturopathic doctor before consuming ginseng.