The True Benefits of Ginseng

A large ginseng root laid on top of Korean money.

Sounding as tho it could be from another planet. What is Ginseng? Is this a ubiquitous question? Ginseng is a small plant native to Asia and America; its root is used in food supplements. The most famous varieties are Korean Ginseng, Siberian Ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus) and American Ginseng.

What Is Ginseng?

Siberian Ginseng is part of the same plant family as Korean & Chinese ginseng, but it is not considered true Ginseng in botanical terms.

It contains many properties that make East Asian Ginseng an adaptogen herb. An adaptogenic herb is known for its healing benefits and is widely used in natural and herbal medicine.

The botanical name of Korean and Chinese Ginseng is ‘Panax,’ which in Greek means “heal all.”

Ginseng’s Herbal Medicine History

The use of herbs to treat and prevent common ailments is nothing new. Long before shops were crammed with brightly coloured medicine bottles with pictures of happy families on them, nature was our medicine cabinet.

Ginseng benefits are widely acknowledged in Asia as a powerful cure and preventative medicine; the plant provides the body with vital nutrients needed to thrive. In addition, it has very mild sedative properties that relax and de-stress, while essential oils aid digestion and ease the bowls.

In traditional medicine, the root of the ginseng plant is highly prized for the dense nutrients it contains. The leaves, however, are still used to make relaxing elixirs and tonics that boost vitality, and some consider to have aphrodisiac effects.

Evidence of Ginseng is used as `herbal medicine dates back thousands of years when Chinese practitioners recommended the herb to prolong life and increase vitality and cognitive behaviour.

While a host of traditional uses have been debunked by modern science, the medical community agrees this herb provides certain health benefits;  the giant pharmaceutical corporations can’t remove the nutrients Ginseng contains.

Understanding The Benefits of Ginseng

Today, this innocuous-looking plant is added to a wide range of consumer products. Everything from energy drinks to face creams contains one variety or another of Ginseng.

The benefits of Ginseng are now so widely known that it is used to market products, and consumers are becoming increasingly aware that certain natural ingredients help the body remain healthy.

Modern Marketing Methods & Herbal Medicines

The fact that Ginseng is the latest ‘buzz’ ingredient for aggressive marketers to rave about, you would think this is a good thing, wouldn’t you? But, unfortunately, it isn’t. Unscrupulous advertising agencies bounding around wild claims only serve to devalue the benefits ginseng can provide.

This plant has been the mainstay of Chinese herbal medicine for millennia, ‘corporate barrow boys’ stamping it as the active ingredient in everything from face cream to energy drinks only prompts people to dismiss its benefits.

Corporate Failure

Energy drinks and other fast-paced consumer products contain a minuscule amount of low-grade Ginseng. Unfortunately, this poor-quality Ginseng is unlikely to have any positive effect.

Drinking a highly processed, expensive drink that proclaims to contain Ginseng is unlikely to impart any health benefits. It is a false comparison to liken an energy drink; that was “once close to some ginseng” to home-brewed tea made using fresh ginseng root.

Growing Consumer Awareness

The growing awareness of the broader consumer demographic of herbal medicine and natural cures is a very positive step. Due to more freely available information and a lack of confidence in the integrity of major corporations, people are starting to take responsibility for their health. Power to the people!!!

Ginseng Home Remedies

Many home remedies and elixirs are made using Ginseng, partly because it is easy to turn a raw fresh root into a pleasant, drinkable tea and the vast availability of this plant.

The plant’s root or leaves can easily be added to soups and stews to absorb the nutrients it contains. In Asia, it is often added to clear soups as a flavour enhancer. It has a taste similar to a mild form of ginger.

Medical Research

Research conducted by the Medical Centre at the University of Maryland, Ginseng (both American and Asian varieties) contains ginsenosides, which may act as an adaptogen in your body.

In layperson’s terms, Ginseng supports your mind and body during extreme mental stress or physical fatigue. As you’re probably aware, stress reduces your ability to fight infections by weakening the immune system. This, in turn, affects the cognitive ability to think clearly.

Therefore, eliminating the effects of stress enhances your ability to fight through these moments.

What About Ginseng’s Benefits?

The notion of Ginseng boosting mental clarity and function dates back to its first recorded uses. While the actual effectiveness of Ginseng can vary from person to person, the research outlined by the Journal of Psychopharmacology found that Ginseng significantly improved cognitive function during prolonged activities.

Ginseng RDA (Recommended Daily Intake)

This study exposed subjects to 200mg of Ginseng per day. Upon absorption, participants experienced a significant reduction in mental fatigue while increasing alertness and clarity.

But what about benefits outside of mental performance? While still under debate, preliminary research found those taking 400mg of Ginseng per day had fewer colds or less severe cold symptoms than those not supplementing with Ginseng. Other studies found this herb lowers blood sugar levels and may even reduce menopausal symptoms.

Ginseng is no doubt an exciting and beneficial herb. While true medicinal qualities are still under investigation, what has been discovered is promising. However, although safe, always talk with your doctor before adopting a ginseng regime, as this herb can cause complications such as high blood pressure, diarrhoea and nosebleed.

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