Ahead of Linnaeus and the western world became conscious of ginseng, it had a long history of use in traditional Chinese medicine. Records dating back to 100 A.D describe the use of ginseng in China, especially the mountains of Manchuria–where it had been frequently reserved for use only by royalty. The fleshy roots may also have been utilized for food. 1 prior to the introduction of modern healthcare, the strength-giving properties and medicinal powers of ginseng endeared many civilizations to this powerful herbal medication.
Ancient civilizations believed in the medicinal properties of ginseng to deal with a cornucopia of diseases and ailments. The Chinese Canon of Medicine even shows reverence to ginseng, saying that, “ginseng benefits sexually, brightens the eye, opens the heart, expels evil, benefits understanding and when taken for prolonged periods of time will invigorate the human body and prolongs the life.”
Chinese emperors began to hoard the stuff, and an industry with this historical nootropic was born–along with a black market.
Since its”discovery” in North America in 1716 and now into modern day, ginseng has become popularized and admired by the USA and across the western world for many of the very same qualities it had been loved for in early times. Ginseng is marketed in over 35 countries, with annual sales exceeding $2 billion bucks. A 2002 survey suggested that 4% – 5% of people 45 – 64 years old living in the USA have used ginseng. It is popular, and for a good reason.
Kinds of Ginseng
As a result of the elevated levels of ginsenosides–ginsenosides will be the primary biologically-active constituents of ginseng (more on these later)–Panax ginseng would be your principal type of ginseng used for supplementing and in research studies.
In addition to these types, ginseng may come in other forms including Siberian ginseng (eleutherococcus senticosus), Indian ginseng (withania somnifera a.k.a ashwagandha), and Brazilian ginseng (pfaffia paniculata).Unless stated otherwise, any studies and benefits discussed refer to the Panax varieties of ginseng, American ginseng, and Asian ginseng.
Although called”alternative medicine,” the epic health effects of ginseng aren’t because of early spiritual healing abilities.
Instead, we understand certain molecular actors are to thank for the ginseng benefits for females. Of them, tetracyclic triterpenoid saponins–also called ginsenosides–would be the key active ingredient proposed to describe why ginseng is such a highly effective herbal medicine.
What are ginsenosides?
Molecularly talking, they’re steroid-like ring structures with sugars attached to them at various carbon side chains. More than 40 unique ginsenosides have been identified and isolated from ginseng root. This huge set of molecules that are active are responsible for its antioxidant, anti-cancer, and anti-inflammatory effects of ginseng.
Ginsenosides operate their molecular magical by acting through signal transduction pathways within the body. Several crucial processes modulated by ginsenosides include antioxidant signaling, steroid hormones, vascular regulation through the molecule nitric oxide (NO), and neuronal signaling through NMDA and GABA, two super-important neurotransmitters.
The main receptor targets for ginsenosides seem to be glucocorticoid receptors (GR) and androgen (sex-steroid) receptors. Each of them are extremely important in our ability to react to stress, modulate hormones, and properly grow, recover, and maintain our health.
Could the protective effects of ginsenosides be due to the fact that their primary aim is to safeguard their server, the ginseng root? The same as a powerful cactus produces spines to prevent particular critters from nibbling it do death, the ginseng root produces ginsenosides as a protective strategy against nature.
Ginsenosides are known to be antifungal, antifungal, and antifeedant–their sour flavor is a reason that some insects and animals steer clear of eating ginseng. When we consume these chemicals, they may impart many of the exact same host-protective effects for our entire body.
Ancient medicine, modern science.
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With such a long and ancient medical history, ginseng’s use as a herbal supplement has been studied in just about any medical condition imaginable. No, you cannot get an herbal medication prescription from your health care provider, however, this highly effective plant has been proven in clinical trials to reap many ailments and is offered in a variety of herbal supplement forms. Area where the medical capacity of ginseng has been researched is within the cardiovascular system.
Specifically, the ginseng sides have strong anti-inflammatory effects that could prevent oxidative stress and damage to your heart, blood vessels, and circulation. The circulatory system may benefit from ginseng because ginseng sides also increase a protective molecule called nitric oxide (NO) from the flow –helping to keep blood vessel function and blood pressure.
Indeed, ginseng may help reduce blood pressure, but outcomes of clinical trials seem to vary widely with this outcome. A meta-analysis of research on ginseng supplementation found there was a minor but favorable trend for enhanced blood pressure for the group consuming ginseng herbal supplements, however, the favorable effect was only found in people with cardiovascular disease and other types of disease, indicating that healthy individuals with normal blood pressure might not benefit.
Nevertheless, ginseng might act on other aspects of the cardiovascular system.
Studies in patients with decreased coronary blood flow and hypertension have demonstrated that ginseng improves blood flow (from the anti-clotting mechanism targeted by blood thinners) and reduced arterial stiffness. The extensive acts of ginseng on the cardiovascular system create it seemingly beneficial for certain diseases.
To decrease cardiovascular risk factors such as blood pressure, blood vessel disorder, and overall heart health, ginseng supplementation appears to have some evidence in those who may be at a heightened risk. The good news is, no trials reveal a negative impact of supplementations it cannot hurt to try.
Depression and Anxiety
Physical, mental, or psychological stress requires a toll physically. It can result in a variety of negative health effects, many of which may consist of changes in disposition and outlook in life. In a “flight or fight” planet, ginseng might provide some much needed stress relief.
Ginseng may have the potential to boost mood, regulate levels of anxiety, and decrease symptoms of depression. 6 It does so through effects on the brain that are known to comprise neurogenesis (the sprouting of neurons), synaptogenesis (growth of new synapses), neuron development, and neurotransmitter activity–all of that “protect” the central nervous system.
In one study, rats were given ginseng and then put in a plus-sized maze (a stressful position for a small rat) revealed fewer anxiety-like behaviors. The anxiety-reducing ramifications of both kinds of ginseng used in the study were actually similar to the antidepressant medication Diazepam. 7 In mice, red ginseng supplementation for seven days relieved the emotional fatigue in animals induced with this stressful situation. Ginseng has also been proven to reduce levels of the stress hormone corticosterone.
Depression can frequently be associated with stress-like symptoms. In the few studies available, ginseng treatment had been proven to exert antidepressant-like effects in animal models of depression and might improve measures of quality of life and depressive symptoms in postmenopausal women. Further research is required to describe the extent to which ginseng may be helpful as an antidepressant.
Protective effects of ginseng have been researched since the root’s discovery from the ancient world. It is known that substances of ginseng can act on many signal pathways involved in the cell cycle, and prevent the undesirable growth and proliferation of cellsa hallmark of cancer growth.
Observational studies indicate a benefit (i.e. lower threat ) for cancer. It’s been shown that ginseng ingestion is associated with a 16% lower cancer risk in individuals compared those who don’t eat ginseng,9 and lots of other studies have demonstrated a relationship between a greater ginseng consumption and a reduced risk for cancer.
The chemoprotective effects are shown to exist for different cancer types, such as lung cancer, gastric cancer, liver cancer, and colorectal cancer. For now, all we have are associations, however, the data indicates that ginseng might have some anti-cancerous properties for individuals munching it down to the regular.
To stay in the best, avoiding sickness should be a priority. Simply consuming vitamin C is most likely not your very best bet. Ginseng, on the other hand, has shown to have potent effects on boosting the immune system. Specifically, our innate immunity–the ability to recognize foreign”invaders” and prevent and remove infections–may benefit from ginseng supplementation.
Subjects consuming 100mg of ginseng extract for 2 months also showed improved death of infectious agents in the body, signaling an enhanced capacity to fend for certain vicious viruses. In an aging people with reduced immunity, ginseng saponin extract improved the use of immune cells known as lymphocytes,suggesting they had an enhanced ability to respond to bacterial strain.
Along with boosting the death of”bad” cells, ginseng can also lessen the amount of inflammation within the body, whether due to an invading bacteria. Ginseng has been shown to lower the sum of pro-inflammatory cytokines such as TNF-alpha, IL-1B, IL-6, IFN-y, IL-12, and IL-18. A number of these inflammatory markers are associated with autoimmune disorders.
Whether enhancing the ability to fend off germs or fostering our ability to clear them out, ginseng can keep your immune systems powerful and keep you out of the physician’s office.
Let’s Talk Sex (Hormones)
Now that we’ve got your attention, let us look at a few of the very historical uses of ginseng.Chinese emperor Shen Nung, the”father of Chinese Medicine,” was the first to explore how ginseng may have the ability to treat erectile dysfunction (ED) in men.
Numerous placebo-controlled studies support a favorable effect of ginseng supplementation on male ED. Supplemented in dosages of 900mg (for 2 months ) and 1,000milligrams (for 12 months ) three times per day, ginseng has been shown to increase symptoms of ED in over 60 percent of those in the treatment group. Results of many different studies indicate that ginseng supplementation also improves various markers of sexual functioning in men with ED, raises levels of testosterone, improves libido and sexual drive, and even boosts sperm count and motility. Ginsenosides are primarily responsible for these developments by raising the number of neurotransmitters like dopamine and GABA, raising the production of testosterone through enhanced luteinizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone, and enhanced nitric oxide (NO) levels in blood vessels, enabling enhanced circulation of blood into body parts where it is needed.
Women are not excluded from the aphrodisiac-like qualities of ginseng. Post-menopausal women ingesting ginseng capsules (1,000mg) experienced enhanced sexual function scores and greater stimulation levels compared to a placebo group, without the adverse effects reported. 15 Another study in premenopausal women suggested that Korean red ginseng supplementation for eight weeks improved sexual satisfaction and drive however, this wasn’t different compared to placebo group, who also increased their role.
Why the boost? Ginseng seems to have effects on sex-steroid hormone receptors like the estrogen receptor and the androgen receptor. By maintaining healthy levels of hormones and receptor signaling, ginseng can prevent the decline in sex hormones that occur with disease and aging. 17
Ginseng might be your next go-to for improving cognitive health and performance; it’s even been demonstrated to be neuroprotective. Mice given ginseng chemicals demonstrated improvements in memory and learning, and only one 500mg dose of a ginseng-containing supplement enhanced long term potentiation (LTP)–a strengthening of synapses related to memory formation.
Additional signs of mind benefits are shown in studies where ginseng tablets improved cognitive performance, reduced mental exhaustion, and enhanced working memory and response time. Combining ginseng along with other cognitive enhancers such as caffeine and L-theanine may even have advantages over and beyond ginseng independently. Protecting the squishy ball of neurons in our mind could be one of the most important and promising benefits of ginseng.
Emotional and Physical Performance
We have got the health-boosting properties down the ginseng, and you will find many. In addition to the disease-fighting benefits of this herb, ginseng may also be able to improve your physical performance, make the most of your workout routine or training program, and help you reach your health and fitness goals. At the same time, ginseng may improve cognitive function, possibly giving you the much-needed boost at weekly bar trivia.