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The Health Benefits of Ginseng
- As far as the other numerous claims about ginseng and its health benefits, the verdict is still out. Research is being done but some of the results have been inconclusive.
- Follow your physician’s advice on dosage and stop taking the herb if you begin to experience any negative reactions.
Of the numerous herbs that are currently on the market in the United States, ginseng is arguably the best known and most recognizable. Most people are still unsure, however, about the potential benefits of ginseng and whether or not they should incorporate it into their diet.
The Basics of Ginseng
The idea that benefits of ginseng exist is not some new age creation. Ancient Chinese legends say emperors from the country considered ginseng so beneficial to their health that it was added to their soaps, lotions, and foods. In fact, the genus name of the ginseng herb (both the Asian and American versions) is Panax, which comes from the Greek word meaning “universal remedy.” Another common belief is that ginseng roots shaped like a person’s body are the ones that will cause the longest life expectancy in the person who consumes it.
Ginseng has been harvested and sold for thousands of years. Its popularity stems from its proclaimed health benefits. In fact, the herb has been a major export for states such as Minnesota that dates back to the mid 19th century. In Asia, wild-growing ginseng found in Manchuria has been harvested for thousands of years.
What Can Ginseng Do?
Although the list of health benefits associated with ginseng could take up pages, some of these supposed benefits have more scientific merit than others. For example, there is good scientific evidence, according to the Mayo Clinic, that ginseng may benefit patients who have heart problems. Ginseng has also been shown to reduce blood sugar levels to reasonable levels for people who have type-2 diabetes. Research has also shown that ginseng can boost the effectiveness of antibiotics and flu vaccinations. No one is sure why this seems to be the case, and more research is needed to fully understand these benefits.
As far as the other numerous claims about ginseng and its health benefits, the verdict is still out. Research is being done but some of the results have been inconclusive. For example, more research is needed to determine if ginseng can actually help in the treatment of ADHD or if it can help patients going through chemotherapy to retain more of their weight and immune system capabilities. Other possible benefits of ginseng include lowering cholesterol, lowering blood pressure, correcting erectile dysfunction, lowering the risk of cancer, and dozens of other health conditions.
Part of the reason for this problem is that many of the earliest research studies performed on ginseng’s benefits in these areas were not done properly or were not done with proper controls in place, which means that results could be questionable. Repeating the studies under better conditions to achieve more accurate results takes time, volunteers, and funding, hence the delay in developing conclusive evidence.
Taking Ginseng Safely
If you do decide to incorporate ginseng into your health routine, talk to your physician first. Some herbs can interfere with other medications and some can cause serious side-effects. Remember that just because something is natural does not mean it is always safe. Follow your physician’s advice on dosage and stop taking the herb if you begin to experience any negative reactions.
You might also want to keep track of any health benefits you experience after taking ginseng so that you may be able to contribute something to ongoing research.
The information supplied in this article is not to be considered as medical advice and is for educational purposes only.
|Antioxidants25 Nov 2008|