Restore physical and mental energy with ginseng
(NaturalHealth365) In the time-honored Indian healing system known as Ayurveda, a “rasayana” is an herb or substance believed to have the power to rejuvenate the body, fight the effects of stress, and even prolong life. Ginseng, one of the most ancient and commonly-used medicinal herbs in the world, is the quintessential rasayana, with countless people worldwide relying on this distinctively-shaped root to restore mental and physical vitality, improve memory and enhance quality of life.
Eliminate chronic fatigue, lower blood sugar and prevent cancer
There are two different varieties – Panax or Asian ginseng and Panax quinquefolius, or American ginseng – which can be used to improve your energy, stabilize blood sugar and kill cancer cells. Although the plants have slightly different qualities and effects, both have natural steroid-like compounds called ginsenosides as their active components.
A third plant, Eleutherococcus senticosus, or Siberian ginseng, is technically not ginseng at all. In addition to being important in Ayurveda, it is also a staple of traditional Chinese medicine. The Asian variety, or “renshen,” was first used by early Chinese emperors to treat various ailments.
American ginseng is growing in popularity
American ginseng can grow in the rich soil of hardwood forests, but over-harvesting in the 1970s decimated native crops. Under cultivation by farmers, it has made a comeback; currently, 95 percent of American ginseng is grown in Wisconsin.
The roots, which must be five or six years old to possess beneficial qualities, are commonly harvested in the fall.
Why is ginseng good for you?
The ginsenosides in ginseng root have powerful antioxidant capabilities – helping to prevent free radical damage to cells and DNA. They also function as potent anti-inflammatory agents.
In addition, ginseng is rich in substances called panaxins, which may have a hypoglycemic effect, and is also high in polysaccharides – or complex sugar molecules – that boost immune function. Beneficial flavonoids, assorted volatile oils, and B-complex vitamins also contribute to its health-enhancing qualities.
Plus, let’s not forget, this medicinal herb is rich in biotin – needed for healthy nervous system function – and choline, which can help delay fatigue during physical activity.
Reduce stress and fatigue with ginseng
The federal regulatory agency Health Canada credits ginseng with reducing the severity, frequency, and duration of cold symptoms. The University of Maryland Medical Center (UMC) notes that Asian ginseng may improve immune function, cut cancer risk and enhance mental and physical performance.
UMM credits American ginseng with lowering blood sugar of diabetic patients in clinical studies. A study conducted by the Mayo Clinic alleviated fatigue in cancer patients while improving their quality of life. And, insurance companies like Blue Shield Complementary and Alternative Health credit the herb with ‘adaptogenic value’ – meaning it helps to improve the immune system (as needed) to resist the harmful effects of stress.
There is some evidence that ginseng may help reduce symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome – due to its ability to help support healthy function of the endocrine system.
Unique metabolites protect liver cells and so much more
In a 2013 review published in Oncology Reports, researchers noted that PPD, a ginsenoside metabolite, was effective against multiple types of tumors in both human and animal cell models. They reported that the metabolite could cause an arrest in the cell growth cycle of human liver cancer, colon cancer, and leukemia cells.
A second metabolite, Compound K, induces apoptosis – or cell self-destruction – in human stomach cancer cells. The team concluded that potential clinical applications exist for ginseng as a human cancer treatment and called for further investigation.
What is the best way to consume this plant?
Ginseng is available in the form of fresh or dried root, liquid extracts, capsules, and teas. It is generally considered safe when consumed in recommended amounts, but it can cause headaches, elevated heart rate, nausea, nervousness, and insomnia in higher serving sizes.
Ginseng may be used daily for two to three weeks, then should be halted for one to two weeks. Naturally, we suggest you check with your doctor or health coach before making any significant changes to your diet or supplement routine.
If you have diabetes, autoimmune disease, or take heart medicine, understand that ginseng may increase the risk of bleeding. Obviously, for best results, be sure to work with an experienced herbalist with medical training.
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