8 Proven Health Benefits Of Ginseng
In this article, we’ll discuss some of the proven benefits of the Ginseng herb for both men and women.
The plant ginseng belongs to the Panax genus of the Araliaceae family. It is rich in compounds known as gintonin and ginsenosides. It is a wild plant that is found generally in cooler climates and hilly regions, like the Korean Peninsula, Russian Far East, Northeastern China, the United States, and Canada.
However, the commercial cultivation of ginseng has just begun in the past few years. The shift of people around the globe towards alternative medicine is s huge medium for the increasing demand of ginseng. This demand has led to the rampant harvesting of wild ginseng. Correspondingly, wild ginseng has become extinct in the Chinese subcontinent and other parts of Asia. It is an endangered species in the western world.
Ginseng is a predominantly Asian herb believed to have a wide variety of health benefits and medicinal properties. There are various kinds of ginseng available on the planet viz. Korean ginseng, American ginseng, and South China ginseng. Ginseng, in particular, is the root of the plant ginseng and not the whole plant. It has been widely used in alternative medicine pan Asia.
Ancient Asian texts reveal that ginseng or Panax ginseng has been used to treat illnesses for as long as 2000 years! According to them, ginseng was used mainly for people who were recovering from major illnesses as well as patients suffering from chronic ailments. They also describe ginseng as a ‘supertonic’. This phrase may hold as the literal Chinese meaning of ginseng translates to the ‘roots of a person.’
In the present times, the popularity of ginseng has taken the form of a multi-million dollar ginseng supplements industry.
What Does The Modern Research Say About Gensing?
Since the properties of ginseng are not yet completely known, it is advised to not take ginseng with any kind of existing medication, to avoid unwanted medicinal interactions. Research to date also points towards some side effects of ginseng viz. headache, insomnia, fluctuations in blood pressure, and mild vaginal bleeding.
Thus, pregnant and lactating women are advised against consuming ginseng. Ginseng or Panax ginseng is also used as a treatment or a supplementary drug for Alzheimer’s disease, though there is no scientific evidence backing its use.
Ancient texts in alternative medicine like the Chinese Shen Nung Pharmacopoeia have detailed mentions about ginseng, although there is still a lot of research to be done by modern medicine over ginseng and what are its extended range of applications.
In the present day and age, modern medicine is inconclusive if ginseng has more than the already discovered health benefits. Ginseng can affect the body by targeting a single cell or having an overall effect. Therefore, the working mechanism of ginseng is not yet clear.
The benefits of ginseng or Panax ginseng can be stated due to the presence of empirical evidence supporting the claims. Some of these benefits are explained below.
1. General Well-being
Korean ginseng is well known to be used as a supplement for general well-being. It has been long used as a health supplement to foster good health, well-being, and regulating blood pressure as well as the overall mood of the individual (especially in Alzheimer’s patients).
2. Antioxidant & Anti-inflammatory
Research suggests that ginseng has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. A 2011 study conducted by NCBI (National Center for Biotechnology Information) showed that Red Korean Ginseng has anti-inflammatory properties which can be beneficial for people suffering from eczema. Research also shows that the compound ginsenoside found in ginseng can inhibit inflammation and boost antioxidant capacity in cells.
3. Improved Cognition
A 2010 study was conducted by the NCBI among 30 healthy individuals taking 200 mg of Panax ginseng daily for four weeks. The group showed considerable improvement in overall mood, mental health, and social functioning. However, the same study also showed that the effects of ginseng reduced after extended usage.
Some test-tube studies and experiments have also shown that ginsenoside and the compound K found in ginseng could protect the brain from free radical damage. Another study has shown that ginseng is effective in reducing mental fatigue.
4. Improve Erectile Dysfunction
Research has shown that patients who took Panax ginseng for erectile dysfunction had a 60% improvement in their condition as compared to the ones taking conventional prescription drugs, in whom the condition only improved by 30%.
Research from NCBI and other agencies states that ginseng is believed to increase the production of nitric oxide in the body, which allows for increased blood flow into the penis, hence improving the condition of ED. 1000 mg of aged ginseng extract consumed over 8 weeks has shown to provide an increase in overall satisfaction and significant improvements in ED.
5. Helpful In Managing Diabetes
A 2014 PLoS review suggested that ginseng could be of great value in managing diabetes. The research followed a group of patients for 12 weeks and it was observed that ginseng provided significant improvements in the blood sugar levels of these patients. Though these are useful developments, more research is required in the area to establish the concrete credibility of ginseng as a possible alternative treatment for diabetes.
6. Weight Management
Food and beverage preparations of ginseng are very common in Korea. One such preparation is the ginseng tea which could control weight according to Dr. Bahram Tadayyon. Although it must be noted that only tea is not the solution to the problem. A balanced diet and physical role also play a crucial role in weight management. Ginseng tea can be used as a supplement to control weight.
7. Increase In Energy
Ancient Chinese texts mention ginseng as a ‘supertonic.’ An NCBI trial among 600+ individuals divided them into two groups out of which one were given a placebo and the other were given ginseng. Compared to the placebo group, the participants of the group that consumed ginseng had a significant increase in energy and reduction in fatigue.
Though the results of this meta-analysis seemed promising, the NCBI report stated that additional research needs to be conducted on the topic so that precise information can be provided on the subject.
8. Potential Benefits Against Cancer
A 2015 analysis conducted by NCBI showed that ginsenosides could help in the cell cycle by preventing abnormal cell growth which causes cancer. NCBI has reviewed several studies and stated that people who regularly consume ginseng have a 16% lower risk of cancer as compared to the people who do not. Studies also suggest that ginseng could improve some side effects of chemotherapy, making it less painful.
Ginseng Benefits: Conclusion
Ginseng and all the plants under this category like red ginseng, Chinese ginseng, American ginseng, etc. are believed to have great medicinal value and health benefits. Clinical trials conducted by competent authorities also agree to the same. Although all the research ends with one line – more research is needed on the subject as the findings in a sample population cannot be applied to everyone. Until then, all we can do is take proper medical advice and precautions when taking a dose of ginseng or ginseng based supplements.
May 20, 2020 Sam Bell