Ginseng for Health Benefits

2020-06-25 23:35:05 |

Ginseng appears to simply make people feel better as if they are more in control of their life. @Shutterstock


 

Since time immemorial, ginseng has had the reputation of being a potent tonic that restores a weak body to good health and maintains a healthy body in top shape. Many twentieth-century researchers have focused on understanding the science behind ginseng’s ability to help people stay healthy and fight off disease more effectively than any other herbal remedy known. The research on ginseng has born consistent results showing that ginseng does not cure any specific illness, it is effective in helping to prevent many types of diseases, particularly those that result from environmental, physical, or emotional stress to the body. To understand how ginseng achieves its preventive effects, there are a number of specific diseases that ginseng has been shown to be effective against.

1. Colds, Flu, and Generalized Illness

Ginseng seems to help the body to resist many types of low-level illnesses that commonly strike the body under stress, such as colds and flu. Many patients were recommended ginseng reported that thanks to the ginseng, they stop getting low-level illnesses such as colds, fevers, headaches, and the like. A triathlete told that even when you put your body under great duress like training for the competition, your ability to resist disease greatly expands when you take ginseng. He reported that since taking ginseng, he had not been sick once.

2. Healing and Inflammations

Because the hormones produced by glands in the endocrine system regulate blood pressure and the chemical nature (e.g., the levels of sodium, potassium, and calcium) of the blood, the improvements caused by ginseng in the endocrine system appear to have an effect on the ability of the body to heal bruises and fight inflammations. These effects have been proven in studies carried out by Soviet and Japanese researchers.

3. Digestive Ailments

Many common illnesses are related to digestion. In this regard, research has supported the use of ginseng to improve digestion. Some studies on animals also show that ginseng increases the rate of RNA synthesis in liver cells, thus improving their functioning. Increased RNA synthesis also has a positive effect on the digestive system. Other studies show that ginseng elevates plasma HDL (good cholesterol) while lowering LDL (bad cholesterol) levels.

4. High Blood Pressure

Studies have shown that ginseng is useful in normalizing blood pressure, whether it is too high or too low. In one study, a group of 540 volunteers suffering from hypertension showed significant improvement in normalizing blood pressure when given ginseng. A variety of studies on elderly people with high blood pressure showed that ginseng lowered it modestly. The effects of ginseng seem to be especially significant when used in combination with a comprehensive program that includes dietary changes, exercise, and the learning of relaxation techniques. In China, ginseng is used in hospitals to raise blood pressure as part of emergency treatment after shock, loss of blood, or a heart attack.

5. Diabetes

There are typically two treatments to help diabetics control their blood sugar levels. In type I diabetes , the standard treatment is to administer insulin injections to supplement the body’s low levels of insulin. In type II diabetes, the treatment usually consists of a significant change in diet to avoid overwhelming the body with blood sugar after meals. This means that type II diabetics generally must not consume foods that contain the simple forms of sugar (glucose, fructose, lactose) in large quantities, eating polysaccharides, which are broken down slowly in the stomach before being released as sugar into the bloodstream.

As it is not yet clear why, ginseng has been shown to improve both types of diabetes. Ginseng appears to help bolster the body against the stress of continual insulin injections. Like any invasive procedure, injection subject the body to a harsh challenge, but ginseng seems to help the hormonal system rebalance itself quickly. Because of its adaptogenic properties, ginseng also helps normalize the blood sugar level, raising or lowering it as the body requires. In one series of experiments on healthy humans who were given 100 g of sugar water, those whose sugar water included 2 ml of ginseng did not undergo a rise in blood sugar level during the first hour, as did the control group. By the end of the third hour, the blood sugar level in the ginseng group fell to 23% below its initial level. In many experiments on animal, again, those animals who had received an extract of ginseng had lower blood sugar levels than animals in the control group.

6. Anemia

Traditional Chinese medicine has long used ginseng to treat anemia, and now several modern experiments appear to confirm the wisdom of this tradition. In one study, fifty patients who had not had success with other antianemia medications were treated with ginseng. Their red blood cell counts rose, and they also experienced a decrease in several subjective symptoms, such as fatigue.

7. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Generalized Fatigue

Ginseng has been shown to exert a number of beneficial effects that may be useful in the treatment of both chronic fatigue syndrome and generalized fatigue. In regard to the latter, because ginseng improves the body’s general health and ability to combat stress, the body ends up with more energy and vitality.

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a specific disease state in which people become abnormally exhausted after even the briefest activities. Their energy becomes quickly depleted, and they are seldom able to sustain effort or concentration for very long. Other symptoms of CFS include a recurrent sore throat, low-grade fevers, lymph node swelling, muscle and joint pain, intestinal discomfort, emotional distress, depression, and loss of concentration. Some researchers believe that the causes of CFS are related to the Epstein-Barr virus, which is a member of the herpes group of viruses. Such viruses remain in the body in latent form and are kept in check by a healthy immune system. However, as soon as the immune system is run down, the virus strikes. People with these types of viruses are subject to infection many times over the course of their life. Blood samples from patients with CFS reveal lower levels of natural killer (NK) cells and reduced levels of lymphocytes, white blood cells that battle viruses. It has been noted that CFS patients have lower levels of interferon, a special chemical factor produced by the body as a natural protector against viruses. As ginseng helps to strengthen the body’s response to stress and indirectly supports the immune system, it has become highly regarded as a potential ally in combating CFS. In general, research supports the fact that ginseng improves certain aspects of the illness. In one study conducted at the University of Buenos Aires in Argentina with fifty patients, researchers identified the following attributes of CFS including reduced mental alertness, emotional liability, lack of motivation and initiative, irritability, hostility, indifference to surroundings, unsociability, uncooperative behaviour, lack of appetite. The patients were first given a placebo pill for two weeks and then tested on several measures of mental acuity and attention. They were then given a standardized ginseng extract. The researchers found that the administration of ginseng for the fifty-six days caused a substantial improvement in many areas, especially in the patient’s attention and concentration.

8. Heart disease

Stress is a significant factor in heart disease, so by virtue of its ability to help the body reduce stress, ginseng has often been correlated with reducing heart disease. In fact, many studies show that ginseng enhances blood circulation, normalization of blood pressure, reduction of cholesterol levels, and favourable shifts in protein and lipid metabolism. In one study, 206 patients were treated with ginseng: 75% showed a reduction of cholesterol levels, and 62% showed a reduction in high blood pressure.


Researchers in China have given purified ginseng ginsenosides to patients after heart surgery. In comparison to patients not given this compound, those given ginsenosides experienced better recovery and less tissue damage.


9. Menopause

Ginseng seems to assist women in dealing with menopause. In one clinical study, eighty-three patients took ginseng over a period of eight weeks. Symptoms such as hot flashes, weakness, and fatigue were reduced in seventy of the test subjects.

10. Surgery and Recovery

Surgery is very debilitating to the body, producing a high level of stress on many bodily systems. In fact, the amount of time it takes for people to recover from surgery has been shown to be highly linked to the stress caused by the operation. Given this debilitating nature of the surgery, a number of studies have been conducted using ginseng on people undergoing surgery. In one study involving 120 postoperative gynecological patients, 60 were given ginseng on a daily basis while 60 received a placebo. The patients who were given ginseng experienced significant increases in their levels of hemoglobin, protein, and hematocrit (percentage of red blood cells in a total volume of blood), as well as body weight, all of which are important measures of recovery.

Dr. David Morrow, a board-certified cosmetic surgeon, dermatologist, and founder of the Morrow Institute for Specialty Plastic Surgery in Rancho Mirage, California, has started to give ginseng to his patients in order to boost their immune systems and assist in their speedy recovery. His patients begin taking ginseng a few days before the surgery and continue with it for two weeks afterward. He reports that he has noticed a definite improvement in the recovery rates of his patients, and he points out that many of his patients are so pleased by the overall energizing and healthful benefits of ginseng that they continue to take it for months afterward on their own.

11. Cancer and radiation

A number of statistical studies have been conducted to assess the effectiveness of ginseng in preventing certain types of cancers. In one study, near two thousand pairs of volunteers were divided into two groups. One group had been diagnosed with various cancers, while those of the other groups were healthy. The statisticians determined that ginseng users had a lower risk of cancers of the lip, oral cavity, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, stomach, colon, rectum, liver, pancreas, lungs, and ovaries. In addition, even smokers who had taken ginseng regularly had a lower risk of cancer. However, there was no improvement in the risk factors for cancers of the breasts, uterus, cervix, urinary bladder, and thyroid glands. In a follow-up study, the same researchers compared two groups of nine hundred-plus subjects and found the same lower incidence of cancer among ginseng users. However, it has been noted that the researchers did not take into account dietary factors and other healthy habits. Critics have suggested that those who took the time to take ginseng may simply have had better health habits in general. Nevertheless, the results of these two studies are quite intriguing.

Ginseng has been shown to be very effective in reducing the deleterious effects of radiation exposure, such as that received by cancer patients. Ginseng seems to help return both white and red blood cell counts to normal after radiation treatment has lowered them.

12. Depression, Insomnia, and Mood problems

Ginseng has also been shown to help with a range of emotional illnesses and mood problems. In one experiment, fifty men and women with depression between the ages of twenty-four and sixty-six were tested on a variety of intellectual and cognitive functions. They were then given two capsules of standardized ginseng concentrate each day for fifty-six days. Following this period of ginseng usage, they were again given the same tests and their respective scores were compared. The mean scores for all patients on certain of the items, such as information comprehension, visual comprehension, observation, and practical reasoning improved in a statistically significant way. There were also improvements in several measures of emotional balance such as motivation, incentive, cooperation, and personal care.

Ginseng appears to simply make people feel better as if they are more in control of their life. In an experiment that was conducted at a high-technology company in Stockholm, Sweden, 390 test subjects were divided into two groups: one received ginseng, the other a placebo. By the end of the study, which lasts twelve weeks, those subjects who were taking ginseng were tested and measured to have a better appetite, higher levels of alertness, and they were more relaxed.

 

Reference:

MoraMarco J. (1997). The complete ginseng handbook. Contemporary books.


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