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What Is Ginseng? Benefits and Possible Side Effects

by janeausten
Siberian ginseng

Introduction

Surely you have ever heard the saying “this is not a panacea”, in relation to which a certain compound should not be interpreted as a universal remedy. Well, ginseng is a plant of the panacea genus, from the Greek Panax which means “heals all”.

Depending on where it has been cultivated, there are different types of ginseng such as Siberian ginseng, Chinese, American or Korean, also known as red ginseng, this being considered the most stimulating.

For 5,000 years there is evidence that Chinese medicine already used the root of this plant to prepare remedies against weakness and exhaustion thanks to its tonic and restorative properties. The high content of the so-called ginsenosides of this root determines its revered effects. But for ginseng to provide these benefits, the plant must mature for at least six years.

Ginseng Benefits

Before quinoa, spelt or chia came into our lives, ginseng became a kind of pioneer in the fashion of food supplements, those ‘panaceas’ that promised to fix everything. And what are those benefits that make ginseng one of the most consumed natural remedies in the West since it broke out in the 1990s?

It is a plant that grows on the slopes of mountains in cold areas of the Asian continent such as China, Korea or Russia, but due to its high demand we can also find it in Canada, the United States, Mexico or even in Spain. But the most beneficial is siberian ginseng. Because there are many Siberian ginseng benefits available.

Stimulates Resistance

According to various studies —including one from the Complutense University of Madrid— ginseng is capable of stimulating resistance in situations of overexertion: it is that (natural) ‘energy shot’ that many seek to maintain a high pace of life.

This increase in resistance is mainly due to the action of ginseng on the central nervous system (CNS), decreasing cerebral oxygen consumption, also acting on neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin.

Boosts Cognitive Processes

Other studies ensure that ginseng also has a no tropic effect in such a way that it favors cognitive processes, improving visual memory and acting against anxiety. In this sense, these studies affirm that ginseng could facilitate abstract thinking by producing faster reactions to simple acoustic or visual stimuli, despite the fact that it has not been shown to improve mental concentration.

On the other hand, ginsenosides could also alleviate the effects caused by beta-amyloid peptides, mainly responsible for the neurodegeneration of diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Korean ginseng favoring neuronal survival.

Supports The Immune System

Ginseng might also increase lymphocyte proliferation and antibody production, including the possibility of some antiviral activity. Some of the mentioned studies suggest that ginseng might have anticancer activity on some tumors.

Proper Use Of Ginseng

Experts advise that your daily consumption does not exceed 2 grams of root powder per day and that the treatment does not exceed three months. In this sense, ginseng usually provides more benefits in short periods, so it can be a good complement in a situation of maximum mental and/or physical activity.

In the event that it is administered in longer periods, especially among the elderly, it is recommended to insert a month of rest in the treatment. In any case, and in case of any doubt -especially in the interaction with medications or in case of important diseases- consult your doctor before taking ginseng continuously.

Conclusion

Finally, we must point out the close association that ginseng has had with sports activities for years. Thanks to the delay in the appearance of fatigue, it is a compound that can be beneficial for athletes, in addition to the fact that it could reduce inflammation thanks to its antioxidant properties and its anti-radical activity against certain toxins such as alcohol.

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