American Ginseng: the Miracle Health Supplement
The health benefits of American ginseng are not only amazing, they are also scientifically proven. It is an established fact that this plant is able to provide protection from all kinds of illnesses including the common cold.
Here comes the science
In one important United States study, people who took 500mg of American ginseng twice a day for several weeks found that on average they suffered 30 percent fewer colds and the colds they did suffer were 30 percent shorter.
And this 30 percent reduction is just the average. For some people, it is speculated that American ginseng may give almost complete protection against the common cold.
How does it provide these magical advantages? Blood drawn from people taking American ginseng in the US studies, showed increased levels of immunoglobulins or antibodies, the special substances that the body uses to fight off infection.
This proves that American ginseng provides valuable assistance to the body’s ability to defend itself against disease and suggests that it could help us to fight off a vast spectrum of ailments from bird flu to cancer.
Other benefits of ginseng
Ginseng is reputed to do more than just boost the immune system. Herbal medicine recommends it as a general stimulant, an aphrodisiac, a treatment for type II diabetes and as a tonic to generally improve the quality of life, though it has to be said that there is no conclusive scientific evidence for these claims yet.
What kind of ginseng do I need?
As the most rigorously tested product available, American ginseng is to be preferred. However, to protect natural supplies of the wild plant, the export of American ginseng from the USA is heavily restricted, and so is very difficult to obtain in other countries, such as the UK, even though it is perfectly legal to buy and consume it there. Its popularity and scientifically proven reputation can also make it expensive or difficult to source cheaply.
People having difficulties obtaining American ginseng can choose from the sometimes more readily available alternative: Asian (or Korean) ginseng.
Though no thorough and undisputed scientific research has been done on its benefits, it is very likely that Asian ginseng is an effective substitute for its American cousin. Its common name: panax ginseng, gives away that it is from the same genus as American ginseng (panax quinquefolius) and is thought to contain the same valuable active ingredients.
Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus) is a very different plant but is very popular as a herbal supplement among ginseng enthusiasts, reputedly also increasing virility and sexual energy.
People often become confused by the terms white ginseng and red ginseng. These are actually both preparations of Asian ginseng. The root of the plant is dried for white ginseng, and then heated to obtain the red form. Either is a suitable alternative to American ginseng.
What dosage of ginseng should I take?
There is no universally agreed upon dosage, but the study quoted at the beginning of this article suggests that 500 mg, taken twice per day will gradually confer the immune system benefits described.
Herbal capsules are an economical and easy way to take ginseng, and are available in a variety of doses, allowing you to spread your intake over the course of a day. They are made from powdered ginseng root, where the active ingredients are stored by the growing plant.
Ginseng tea is usually made from the leaves and contains a great deal less of the active ingredients.
Does ginseng have side effects?
Ginseng is known to have side effects in some people, though these are mild. They include insomnia, nausea, diarrhea, headaches, nose bleeds, high blood pressure, low blood pressure and breast pain. It is also not recommended for people taking antidepressants.
If you experience any of these effects while taking ginseng, you should stop taking it. No lasting harm will result.
Can I overdose on ginseng?
The overdose symptoms of ginseng are the same as its side effects, and are likewise rather mild, but the effects of very long-term use of ginseng are uncertain. For this reason, it is recommended to use ginseng in a cycle: take the supplements for 3 weeks and then stop for two weeks. Then repeat the cycle again.
It is a very safe herb to use, but remember that if you are taking medication prescribed by a physician or have a serious medical condition, you should consult with your doctor before taking ginseng or any other herbal supplement.