What are the health benefits of ginseng?

Ginseng refers to eleven distinct varieties with fleshy roots of a short, slow-growing plant. It is assumed that ginseng restores and enhances health. It is one of the most popular herbal remedies.

The herbs consist of a light-colored root with a forked shape, a moderately long stalk and oval-shaped green leaves.

It is believed that both American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius, L.) and Asian ginseng (P. Ginseng) improve energy, minimize blood sugar and cholesterol levels, decrease tension, encourage relaxation, treat diabetes, and control male sexual dysfunction.

Benefits

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Ginseng is reported to have multiple health benefits. However, further research is required to confirm these.

Ginseng has historically been used to help with a number of medical conditions.

To confirm its advantage as a complement, further research is required. It is alleged, however that ginsenosides, the chemical components found in ginseng, are responsible for the herb’s clinical effect.

The medicinal properties of ginseng are frequently challenged by Western scientists and health professionals. There is no definitive proof that establishes its true efficacy.

In terms of their quality and medicinal properties, ginseng products can vary. It is strongly recommended to verify the ingredients of ginseng products before purchase. Some goods have been found to contain, and some contain other substances, a minimal or negligible amount of ginseng.

The following health benefits, researchers say, are related to ginseng:

Increased energy

For people who feel weak and tired, ginseng can help stimulate physical and mental activity. One research found that ginseng showed positive results in supporting patients with fatigue with cancer.

The energy-boosting effects of ginseng, however, have only been seen in individuals currently receiving treatment. In people who had already completed treatment for cancer, ginseng did not display statistically significant changes.

Sharper cognitive function

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Ginseng has demonstrated effects on thinking power, but studies have been inconclusive.

Ginseng can enhance cognition and thought processes. The precision of this argument was tested by research published in The Cochrane Library.

The study indicates that ginseng tends to show cognitive, behavioral, and quality of life effects. However the authors of the study cautioned that the research included in the systematic review did not make a compelling case for the efficacy of ginseng as a cognitive booster, despite some promising results.

About the research, Richard Brown, M.D., associate professor of clinical psychiatry at the University of Columbia, said:

“It was a very careful review. But as with many Chinese herbs and treatments, while ginseng has been used by millions of people, there aren’t a lot of rigorous modern studies.”

Another research published in the Journal of Dairy Science, investigated whether American ginseng could be integrated into foods. To improve cognitive function, the researchers developed ginseng-fortified milk with adequate ginseng levels.

At this point, however it is not possible to know whether the addition of ginseng in a food product will have the cognitive impact desired.

Anti-inflammatory effects

Ginsenosides, according to experimental findings in the Journal of Translational Medicine, may have anti-inflammatory effects.

To minimize inflammation, ginseng is also used. The researchers propose that ginsenosides could be responsible for targeting pathways that may decrease inflammation in the immune system.

Treatment of erectile dysfunction

To treat erectile dysfunction, men can take ginseng.

A Korean study conducted in 2002 found that 60% of men who took ginseng noticed an improvement in their symptoms. Research published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology also claimed that “proof of red ginseng’s efficacy in the treatment of erectile dysfunction” was presented.

A more recent systematic review has however been performed.

In assessing the performance of red ginseng in the treatment of erectile dysfunction, the analysis showed that the number of tests, the overall sample size and the consistency of the experimental procedures were not sufficient to demonstrate continued clinical benefit.

In order to validate ginseng as a reliable treatment for erectile dysfunction, further research is needed.

Flu prevention

A possible connection between ginseng and the treatment and prevention of influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is suggested by research into the effects of ginseng on mice.

Findings have shown that red ginseng extract could improve the survival of influenza virus-infected human lung epithelial cells. Many reports of ginseng’s protective behavior against viruses, however were later debunked as ineffective.

Lowering blood sugar

Ginseng can help lower blood sugar and help treat diabetes, several studies suggest. Ginsenosides can influence the development of insulin in the pancreas and using other mechanisms, improve insulin resistance.

In order to consider ginseng as a potential complementary therapy for diabetes, more clinical trials and ginseng root standardization are needed. This is so that scientists can examine what particular doses are successful.

Side effects

Not all of the ginseng side effects are known. The following side effects have been documented, while ginseng is considered safe to consume:

  • headaches
  • sleep problems
  • digestive problems
  • changes to blood pressure and blood sugar
  • irritability
  • nervousness
  • blurred vision
  • a severe skin reaction
  • edema
  • Diarrhea
  • bleeding
  • dizziness
  • a dry mouth
  • a decreased heart rate
  • convulsions and seizures
  • delirium

Women may also experience swollen breasts and vaginal bleeding.

Interactions

Doctors suggest that ginseng not be combined with a class of antidepressants called inhibitors of monoamine oxidase (MAOIs). At the same time as ginseng, taking these antidepressants can cause psychotic episodes and tremors.

Blood pressure, diabetes and heart medications, including calcium channel blockers such as nifedipine, can alter the effects of ginseng. Never combine ginseng and heart medicine without consulting a doctor first.

When taken with blood thinners, such as warfarin or aspirin, the herb can also raise the risk of bleeding.

The effects of caffeine and other stimulants can be exacerbated by ginseng, leading to a fast pulse and potential sweating or insomnia. It may also eliminate the pain-relieving effects of morphine.

Takeaway

Although the multiple health benefits of ginseng as a supplement are not established, if it has beneficial effects on you, it is still safe to take the herb in small doses.

To ensure that the supplement you are purchasing is good and healthy for you, compare labels and individual items. Before taking a new supplement, please talk to a doctor.

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