Ginseng is a herb used for its energy boosting and medicinal properties. There are three main species of ginseng: Oriental, Siberian and American. All forms of ginseng are said to aid in reducing stress, improving vitality and boosting the immune system.
The naturally derived stimulant has been employed in alternative medicine, such as Chinese medicine, for thousands of years. The Chinese name yenshen translates into ‘root of man,’ as often the root looks like a human figure.
Until fairly recently, the reason why ginseng appeared to provide an effective energy boost and the reasons for its positive influence on the immune system were unknown. However recent research within the scientific community has helped to shed some light on this.
So how does ginseng work?
We know that secretions from various glands (hormones are some of these) control the body’s systems, (i.e. the adrenal glands control the output of the hormone adrenaline which regulates energy levels). When these glands are in perfect health, the functionality of the rest of the organs are balanced and also work in a healthy and efficient way.
The active ingredients in ginseng known as ‘ginsenocides’ who’s chemical structure resembles that of human hormones, help to control hormone activity and the regulating mechanisms of nerves. In particular, they influence blood pressure and insulin production, and increase metabolism.
In the many thousands of documented studies of ginseng worldwide the overwhelming agreement is that prolonged use of the right type of ginseng can be a major factor in countering the effects of fatigue, aging, hormonal imbalance and stress. Research by Bowden (2008) demonstrates that consuming ginseng every day increased energy levels and actually improved performance and reduced subjective feelings of mental fatigue.
It has also been suggested that individuals who are undergoing treatment for cancer may benefit from ginseng supplementation. A study published in the journal of clinical oncology found that people undergoing treatment for cancer noticed they felt an increase in energy and wellbeing after taking Korean ginseng. Participants who took a placebo instead of the ginseng did not notice the same results.
Why take ginseng?
Without any toxicity, ginseng is harmless and can be absorbed into the body very quickly and easily. It is perfectly tolerated by all, and doesn’t cause any side-effects. No interactions are known, so ginseng may therefore be consumed in conjunction with all other vitamins, minerals and supplements.
While ginseng can be taken to give you a ‘quick’ energy boost, it should be consumed regularly as part of your daily diet or nutritional plan to provide you with a more regular flow or balanced energy.
Ginseng is available in a variety of forms including: the whole dried root, powdered forms, slices of root and the distilled essence of the ginseng root. There are also a number of ginseng supplements available on the market such as Total Ginseng which provides 450mg of Korean Ginseng, and 20mg of the potent active component Ginsenosides per 1 a day capsule.