Herb of the Month - Panax Ginseng!
Author: Angela Fleming Date Posted:1 September 2016
What is Panax Ginseng?
Panax Ginseng, also known as Korean ginseng is an ancient Oriental herb which has been used medicinally across Japan, Korea, Soviet Union, and China for over 5,000 years. In ancient times Korean ginseng was traditionally prescribed to reinforce and promote vital energy or ‘qi’ within the body, increase the production of bodily fluids and promote health and longevity. In the past it was specifically reserved for Chinese emperors and Imperial guards in preparation for battle to enhance and prolong physical and mental performance.
So what do we use it for in today’s day and age? Korean ginseng is famously known for its adaptogenic properties meaning it increases the body’s resistance or adaptation to physical, mental, biological and emotional stressors. It is quite the versatile herb! There are many beneficial reasons why one would take it, all supported by scientific evidence of course!
Indications for use include:
Korean ginseng increases the body’s ability to perform physically at an optimum level, whether it is in the office, on the field or in the bedroom research has shown Korean ginseng to increase stamina, endurance and energy.
How does it do this I hear you ask? Ginsenosides and antioxidant activity! A double blind placebo control trial conducted in 2014 investigated the affects Korean ginseng had on the coping capability of human skeletal muscle during physical activity. The results show that the ginsenosides found in Korean ginseng were responsible for increasing stamina and overall endurance during exercise due to its potent antioxidant activity; antioxidants reduced the oxidative stress and inflammation caused by physical activity (Hou et al 2015).
Stress & Wellbeing
Life can get quite busy at times, it can throw us those inconvenient and unexpected curve balls that create all kinds of worries and stressors, which, let’s face it can be mentally challenging to deal with. Korean ginsengs adaptogenic activity has been shown in clinical trials to resist these types of stressors. Evidence suggests that Korean ginseng can improve general performance during times of stress, enhance alertness, relaxation and mood, and reduce fatigue, and increase reaction time and decision making.
As we age so does our immune system. It is important to keep our immune system in tact in order to keep potential infections at bay. Research has shown Korean ginseng can support the immune system by enhancing white blood cell activity.
Evidence suggests it is capable of stimulating the proliferation of lymphocytes, increasing the levels of natural killer cells and antibody activity, and hasten T-cell mediated immune responses. Enhancing the immune system also improves general wellbeing; winning! (Fisher 2009).
Growing old is inevitable, it happens to all of us on a daily basis. The progression of aging is dependable on how we care for our bodies. Certain factors such as the environment, poor dietary choices, sedentary lifestyle and emotional and physical stress can induce free radical damage and oxidative stress in the body, which may have a negative impact toward how we age.
A great way to support the process of healthy aging is to increase our antioxidant intake. Antioxidants aid in mopping up cellular debris caused by oxidation. Korean ginseng is jam-packed with antioxidant properties! Clinical research has shown Korean ginseng can increase plasma antioxidant enzyme activity in healthy individuals (Kim et al 2012).
Food for thought!
The part of the plant utilised in herbal medicine is the root hence why it has been referred to as ‘the root of life’. Across South East Asia the root is included in many culinary dishes such as soups, stews, jellies, candies and desserts.
*Not to be confused with American, Indian or Siberian ginsengs.
*Korean Ginseng can interact with certain medications. Check with your doctor before prior consumption.
|Written by Angela Fleming|
Angela (BHSc Naturopathy) is a qualified naturopath who strongly believes in living a healthy and happy lifestyle. Angela believes being active, taking time out for yourself on a regular basis and consuming a balanced healthy diet (with the odd sneaky treat included now and then) is the fundamental key to keeping our minds and bodies in good health.
Angela loves to pass on her knowledge of healthy and happy living to her two young children, who love to experiment in the kitchen with her and train alongside her in Karate.