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Don’t Take Ginseng for Granted

Some supplements get overlooked even though they are effective. Or their health benefits are just starting to get scientific attention.

Others have been famous for a long time…and are perhaps taken for granted now.

Ginseng falls into this last category.

It has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries. And chances are, you’ve heard of ginseng’s health benefits. If you’re not taking it, perhaps you should reconsider.

Ginseng is a short plant with fleshy roots. It grows slowly. It is harvested after a four to six years.

The two most popular types are American ginseng and Asian ginseng. American ginseng has a calming effect while the Asian variety is stimulating.[i]

Ginseng is often praised for its anti-inflammatory effects.[ii] But it’s renowned for other good reasons…

  • Fights cancer. Research published in the Journal of Ginseng Research analyzed nine different studies. These involved more than 300,000 participants. The data showed people who consumed ginseng had a 16% lower risk of developing any type of cancer.[iii]A study from the University of Hong Kong found that ginseng reduces chemotherapy side effects. It also cancer medications work better.[iv]
  • Boosts energy. A study published in the journal PLoS One recruited 90 participants. All of them suffered from chronic fatigue. For a month, scientists gave some of the participants Panax (Asian) ginseng. The other patients got a placebo. The ginseng group had less physical and mental fatigue.[v] Another study from South Korea’s National Cancer Center reviewed data from 155 articles. Results showed ginseng reduced fatigue and boosted physical activity.[vi]
  • Treats ED. Research published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology analyzed a database of studies. The study team found that ginseng effectively treats ED.[vii]
  • Strengthens the immune system. A study in the Journal of Ginseng Research looked at post-operative stomach cancer patients. Researchers gave some of the patients ginseng. They gave a placebo to the rest. After three months, the ginseng patients had better immune system markers.[viii] A study from the University of Milan gathered 227 volunteers. Scientists gave some of them a daily dose of ginseng. They gave the others a placebo. After four weeks, both groups got flu shots. The immune response to the shot was greatly enhanced in the ginseng group.[ix]
  • Lowers blood sugar. A review of medical data in the journal eCAM found ginseng can help control blood sugar in people whether diabetic or not.[x]

Ginseng is safe. But be careful if you take medication to lower blood sugar. Ginseng could drop blood glucose levels too low. It can also interfere with anticoagulant drugs.

Data are lacking on how ginseng affects children and pregnant women. So it’s not recommended for either.

For maximum effect, experts recommend you take ginseng in two- to three-week cycles. Take a one- to two-week break in between.

Don’t take this familiar supplement for granted. It’s hard to overstate the well-documented health benefits of ginseng.