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Health Benefits of Ginseng

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Last Updated Oct 21, 2020

Ginseng has been used for thousands of years and has been trusted in China, Korea and other Asian countries for its health benefits. Modern science agrees that the herb ginseng helps our bodies stay fit. If you’re pondering adding a little ginseng to your diet, here are a few great reasons to try it. It has been used traditionally in China for centuries, but has only been discovered in Australia and European countries recently.

Ginseng is a plant, the root of which is used in traditional medicine. Known as an ‘adatogen’, ginseng reportedly helps our bodies adjust to stressful situations, but it does more than just helping us adjust to stress. It’s grown in the northern hemisphere (China, Siberia and Korea) so the ginseng you see in your supermarket is likely imported from one of those countries.

Is Ginseng Safe?

While most people can safely incorporate ginseng into their daily diet, it does come with a warning. Since ginseng can cause sleep issues, headaches and migraines, digestive complaints and allergies, it’s wise to consult your health care professional before using it. And if you’re breastfeeding or are pregnant, you shouldn’t take it at all. For most of us, though, ginseng has many health benefits we shouldn't overlook.

Benefits of Ginseng

There’s a reason why the perennial plant has been used for more than 5000 years. These are just some of the health benefits of ginseng.

Ginseng is a powerful antioxidant and can help reduce inflammation. This is not just a rumour. Studies have shown that ginseng can reduce inflammation and is a potent antioxidant. Rather than use over the counter medications, try ginseng and see how it works.

Studies have also shown that ginseng may help brain function by protecting the brain from the effects of free radicals. Ginseng contains the ingredients ginsenosides and compound K. A study showed that people who consumed 200 mg of Panax ginseng for four weeks had improved brain function. Another study showed that a 400 mg dose made people calmer and improved their math scores. Ginseng has also been shown to be of benefit to people with Alzheimer's disease.

Ginseng may also boost the immune system. One study was done with cancer sufferers. They were given 5400 mg daily for two years and had significant increases in immune functions and a lower incidence of cancer symptoms. Another study showed that ginseng gave people a 35 percent higher chance of living disease-free and a 38 percent higher survival rate than people who did not take ginseng.

Anecdotal studies have shown that ginseng can help reduce certain types of cancers in individuals. Ginsenosides may play a role in this because they help prevent abnormal cell growth. People who consume ginseng have a 16 percent less chance of developing certain types of cancer, including lip, mouth, stomach, lung and other cancers.

Ginseng has also been shown to decrease fatigue and increase energy. One study chose 90 people with chronic fatigue syndrome. The placebo group showed no results, but the group that was given ginseng had less fatigue and reductions in oxidative stress. Another study was conducted with 364 cancer survivors. They used American ginseng in 200 mg doses per day and cancer related fatigue (CRF) was studied. The study concluded that ginseng given over an eight week period and data supported the conclusion of the study, which had a placebo group and a group that used ginseng.

Ginseng can also be used to lower blood sugar levels. One study examined hyperglycemia and concluded ginseng could be a substitute for other drugs. Another study used ginseng to study glycemic control. The study said, "Ginseng modestly but significantly improved fasting blood glucose in people with and without diabetes."

Men suffering from erectile dysfunction may benefit from ginseng. Two studies have been conducted and both used a placebo and ginseng on the test subjects. When Korean Red Ginseng was used in one study, the conclusion was that ginseng may be an "effective alternative" to a more invasive approach. The other study came to the same conclusion.

While it’s a stimulant, ginseng also stabilizes the metabolism while aiding relaxation. You may also find it gives you a nice subtle shot of energy. Some studies have found that ginseng berry could help people manage their weight, as it suppresses the appetite. We all want to stay young and ginseng seems to slow the aging process due to its high antioxidant content. And apparently ginseng slows down ageing, due to its high antioxidant content.

When menstruation comes, ginseng might be the ticket to relieving painful cramps and helping you get on with your day.

How to Take Ginseng

One of the best ways to take ginseng is by mouth. This can be important for people with diabetes, because taking ginseng by mouth in tablet form can be beneficial when taken two hours before eating.

Ginseng should be taken two times a day and the effects will be noticeable after a few weeks of taking it.

Care should be taken when using ginseng. The best type of ginseng is Panax ginseng, but other types are available, too, but may not be as effective. The list of Panax ginseng health benefits is not limited to those listed above. It can also help:

  • The common cold
  • Heart failure
  • Hangover
  • High blood pressure
  • Memory
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Bleeding disorders
  • And the list goes on.

Another way to take ginseng is to buy the roots, remove thin slices and make a tea of the ginseng.

What is the best type of ginseng?

The best type of ginseng may be Korean red ginseng. Korean red ginseng has been called the "King of Ginsengs" because of its potency. Chinese red Panax ginseng is another good choice. Basically, red ginseng is better than other types of ginseng. Siberian Eleuthero ginseng may also be a good choice. Each of these countries have cold winters, which seem to make ginseng more potent. American ginseng was used by Native Americans and is now popular in the United States.

Ginseng has many health benefits and should become a part of a diet to ward off disease and make a person feel stronger and more alert. It can be taken in pill form or comes in ampules, but you can also make a tea of it and derive its benefits from the tea.

To learn more about how to use ginseng and other herbal medicine, check out this list of accredited herbal medicine practitioners in Australia. Some of which offers online herbal medicine consultations.

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Originally published on Oct 28, 2014

FAQs About Ginseng

Can ginseng be taken daily?

Ideally, yes. But daily consumption of 1-2 grams of raw ginseng root or 200-400 mg of extract are suggested. Best to start with low doses and just increase over time. For best results, look for standard ginseng extract containing 2-3% total ginsenosides and take before meals for maximum absorption.

But it is also important to note that it is best to consult your doctor if you take any medications before taking ginseng. Caffeine intake may also amplify stimulant effects of ginseng. And to avoid side effects, ginseng shouldn't be used for more than three months (even a few weeks for some) at a time.

Does ginseng really work?

Ginseng has become very popular because of its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Some studies showed that it can help improve mood and endurance, even help treat cancer, heart disease, fatigue, erectile dysfunction, hepatitis C, high blood pressure, menopausal symptoms, and other conditions. However, evidence isn't conclusive.

Is ginseng safe for pregnancy?

No, experts do not recommend pregnant women take ginseng in any form. Though evidence is still inconclusive, it is better to stay away from it and just not take the risk.

Ginseng, because of its possible estrogenic activity, and the lack of study to prove otherwise, is also not recommended for breastfeeding women.

What does ginseng smell like?

Ginseng pretty much smells like how it tastes, which is bitter. Dried ginseng can be very bitter. Cooks also use it because it adds bitter notes that is required with some recipes.

Where can you find ginseng?

Ginseng is very commonly found on hardwood forests of North America, including Ontario & Quebec in southern Canada, south of Georgia, and west of South Dakota & Oklahoma. It usually grows in well-shaded & moist areas of the forest.

In Australia, ginseng is grown in the north-west area of Tasmania near Delograine because of their incredibly fertile soil.

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