Whether we’re looking at a new health supplement or an energy drink for a caffeine boost, it seems like everything contains some form of ginseng these days. Those who look for more natural alternatives to mainstream medication will also find ginseng as an ingredient in many ancient traditional medicinal practices. There are several reasons why ginseng is so ubiquitous, but many of these claims might not be true. At the very least, we should be aware that ginseng is not a miracle solution to every health problem.
We might find some supplement manufacturers claiming that ginseng is a powerhouse ingredient that’s full of antioxidants. Some will also say that it can improve brain function, regulate blood sugar, and several other important roles.
Before we simply start using anything that has even a mention of ginseng in its ingredient list, let’s have a look at some of the hard facts, backed up by dietitians and proper research:
Correcting Our Thought Process
The first step in knowing more about ginseng should be to take it down from its pedestal. We should be aware that it isn’t some sort of miraculous drug, nor is it the only remedy we have to a series of health problems.
While there are many ways in which ginseng might be useful in alleviating symptoms, most experts are of the opinion that it shouldn’t be utilized as the main solution or to officially treat a disease without some sort of medical supervision. The same goes for using herbs and plants like tulsi or ashwagandha. These two might be popular in traditional medicine, but we should be taking advantage of modern scientific research as well. If that means taking certain claims with a pinch of salt, it’s for our own long-term good.
People mainly use ginseng because they think it acts as an antioxidant in the body. Antioxidants are molecules which might be able to do away with oxidative stress. This effect eliminates the growth and spread of free radicals, which have been known to cause cancer.
Does this mean that ginseng has the potential to prevent cancer? There is a study that gives a positive response to this, but other forms of research on the subject are still inconclusive. If we want to get an alternative remedy for certain health issues, though, using ingredients like maca root might also be a logical consideration.
Being Aware of Side Effects
Before we start using ginseng as a supplement, we should also be aware of the possible side effects. There are many drugs that might have an adverse reaction to this plant, so it’s always best to consult a doctor before such a decision. There have been reports of people suffering from rapid heartbeat, fluctuating blood pressure, headaches, insomnia, and diarrhea after taking ginseng without proper medical advice.
Women are at an even higher risk of these harmful side effects, as they might experience tenderness in the breast or abnormal vaginal bleeding. In fact, women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer are even told to avoid ginseng at all costs.
If we do want to consume ginseng supplements and believe that they will be beneficial, get them from a reputable brand after a thorough amount of research. Additionally, get a doctor to give the go-ahead on this decision first. In any case, it’s not advisable to consume a lot of ginseng in any form within a short period of time. A doctor will let us know if ginseng might have the potential to benefit our current health condition, so a consultation is best.
For instance, three grams of ginseng taken orally might be able to help people who have Type 2 diabetes. Many doctors might be fine with this supplementation, but others could still brewery or try out such a method. The patient’s health status, age, and many other factors will be considered before they make their final decision.
Classification of Ginseng
When we consider ginseng for our health issues, it’s also wise to be aware about its different classifications. This plant can fall into three categories, white, red, or fresh. These categories are divided into how long the plant is grown, which also has an influence on the efficacy of ginseng itself.
Fresh ginseng is what’s harvested within four years of planting. If we harvest the plant between 4 to 6 years, it’s called white ginseng. Finally, if we harvest ginseng after a period of 6 years or more, it’s called red ginseng.
There are also two types of ginseng itself, with one being the Asian ginseng and the other called American ginseng.
American ginseng is believed to work like a relaxing agent, and the Asian is known for its invigorating result according to at least one study.
There is some evidence that shows some benefit of ginseng as an anti-inflammatory. These are mostly test-tube studies that demonstrate how ginseng extract along with ginsenoside compounds might limit inflammation and also increase the antioxidant capacity of our body cells.
The inflammation reduction and antioxidant activity can give our bodies a lot of advantages. One example is that of eczema; the use of ginseng might be able to reduce the inflamed skin and other symptoms to some extent, making the patient more comfortable on a daily basis.
Boosting Brain Function
While we still have to work hard in school as well as our careers, there is some research that shows how the use of ginseng might be able to boost our brain function. This means that function such as behavior, mood, memory, and cognition might improve and become more stable than before.
According to the studies in question, there are components like the compound K in ginseng. This compound helps to protect our brain from the damage that’s caused through free radicals, pollutants, and other factors. The result might mean better mental health, healthier social functioning, and a more stable mood that stays positive for long periods of time.
If this effect is indeed true, many of us will probably be more successful and productive while at work or socializing at parties. Being more able to handle what life throws at us can do wonders in turning our life around. While this isn’t necessarily a health benefit, it might be useful to consume ginseng in order to gain more stability in our lives.
Once we’re caught up on what ginseng can accomplish and what are exaggerated myths, we can focus on using this option in the right manner. The discussion above should help us decide whether this plant is suitable for our dietary needs. If that is indeed the case, we should be able to take further steps to get the full benefits of ginseng into our system.