Ginseng is a flowering plant with fleshy roots that has been used in traditional medicine in China and Southeast Asia for thousands of years.
Ginseng root looks similar to ginger and can be consumed as a tea or in dry form as an extract. There are several types of ginseng, but American ginseng is one of the most popular and is thought to have different effects on the body than Asian ginseng.
Why American Ginseng Is the Ideal Choice for Dealing with Hormonal Imbalances and Stress
American ginseng has been shown in scientific studies to reduce the level of stress hormones in the body and the risk of developing conditions such as depression and anxiety.
American ginseng’s stress-busting properties mean it is an especially valuable supplement in these current times when many people are dealing with the stress of lockdowns, school closures, and job losses.
As well as tackling stress hormones, American ginseng has been found to affect other hormone receptors, including the oestrogen and androgen receptors. This means that it may be particularly helpful for treating symptoms of menopause and other hormonal imbalances.
If you want an extract containing American ginseng, look for the scientific name Panax quinquefolius on the ingredients. Supplements listing Panax ginseng contain the Asian variety, which has a stimulating rather than relaxing effect on the body.
So let’s take a deeper look at some of the benefits of taking American ginseng, as proven in scientific studies.
1. Decreases Symptoms of Menopause
Hot flashes and night sweats are two of the most common symptoms of menopause, with over 80 per cent of menopausal women experiencing sweating, flushing, and anxiety for 1-5 minutes.
Several clinical trials have demonstrated that taking ginseng may reduce the occurrence and severity of hot flashes.
While hot flashes and night sweats are certainly unpleasant, they’re thought to be a harmless symptom of menopause. However, there are other effects of menopause that may be less benign.
It’s thought that reducing levels of oestrogen in post-menopausal women may increase the risk of developing cardiovascular disease. In a double-blind study of over 70 women between the age of 45 and 60, the group that was given a ginseng supplement was found to have significantly lower cardiovascular risk factors than the placebo group at the end of the experiment.
2. Lowers Blood Sugar Levels
Research has shown that ginseng may increase insulin levels and decrease blood glucose levels in both diabetic and non-diabetic people.
There’s evidence of ginseng being used to treat diabetes in China going back thousands of years. Modern medical studies have proved that ginseng’s effect on blood sugar is significant, even if we don’t understand exactly why. In human trials, ginseng has significantly reduced fasting blood glucose and increased insulin sensitivity.
Some studies have shown that ginseng may also help to improve the health of people with diabetes by having an antioxidant effect that can protect the cells of people with diabetes.
3. Improves Brain Functions Like Memory and Mood
As mentioned, ginseng can help reduce stress hormones and prevent stress-associated mental disorders such as anxiety and depression. These conditions are known to cause damage to nerve cells if left untreated long-term.
To prevent or manage these psychological conditions, ginseng can be used to protect the nervous system. It’s also been shown to be effective for improving memory and preventing degenerative brain diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
Ginseng has also been found to increase the levels of serotonin in the body. Serotonin is known as the “happy hormone” due to its effect on mood. Low levels of serotonin are associated with disorders like depression, anxiety, and OCD.
4. Antioxidant Effects May Reduce Chronic Inflammation
Ginseng is known to have potent antioxidant properties, which means that it fights compounds in your body called free radicals.
Free radicals are caused by normal reactions in the body but may be increased by factors such as pollution, eating processed foods, and excessive sun exposure.
Free radicals cause damage to cells and tissue, as well as inflammation within the body.
The chronic inflammation caused by too many free radicals in the body is linked to a number of harmful health conditions including cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, asthma, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease.
Consuming foods with high levels of antioxidants, like ginseng, neutralises free radicals and prevents and reduces chronic inflammation.
It’s also thought that free radicals are one of the main driving factors in the aging process, which is why so many skincare products contain antioxidant ingredients. Less damage from free radicals = fewer wrinkles.
Historically, ginseng has long been thought of as an anti-aging ingredient, but now we know it can scientifically slow the aging process with its antioxidant properties.
5. Boosts the Immune System
Several medical studies have suggested that ginseng may provide a “boost” to the immune system, which can improve resistance to disease.
Your immune system is your body’s natural defence against infection and illness. When bacteria or viruses invade your body, your immune system leaps to the rescue to fight the infection. However, if your immune system isn’t working very well, it will be more difficult to fight off colds and viruses and recover from illnesses.
A healthy lifestyle is vital for a strong immune system. Lack of sleep, not enough exercise, and too much stress will all deplete your immune system. Your diet is very important too. Certain herbs and foods, such as ginseng, are known to support the immune system and can help to keep you healthy.
Analysis of over 200 cancer studies has shown that ginseng consumption significantly decreases the risk of developing all types of cancers and can prevent side effects and cancer recurrence in patients undergoing chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
6. Can Improve Energy Levels and Reduce Tiredness
Ginseng is a common ingredient in energy drinks and supplements and is known to boost energy levels. It can also help fight fatigue.
In one study where a group of 90 people suffering from chronic fatigue was given either a ginseng supplement or a placebo, it was found that those taking the ginseng experienced less physical and mental fatigue than those taking the placebo.
Ginseng is also used to boost physical performance and may increase endurance when exercising. Increasing your physical activity level is one of the best ways to increase your energy. So anything that helps you to lace up your trainers and get moving is a sure-fire way to fight fatigue.
7. Boosts Working Memory, Reaction Time, and Calmness
As mentioned previously, ginseng is known to have a beneficial and protective effect on the brain in the way it reduces stress hormones and their negative effect on the nervous system.
Ginseng may also enhance cognitive function, such as memory and reaction time. A study of healthy volunteers with mild cognitive impairments showed that those treated with ginseng showed significant improvement in a visual recall test after six months of treatment.
Another study measuring the reaction time in response to a visual stimulus showed that ginseng improved reaction time and decision time after a two-week period, compared to the control group.
American ginseng’s hormone-regulating effects mean that it can be very helpful for promoting a feeling of calm and beating stress. Several studies have shown that ginseng can adjust the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, which controls reactions to stress.
While you may not be able to control the level of stress in your life caused by external factors, taking a ginseng supplement regularly may help you to deal with it and to feel calmer on a daily basis.
What to Look for in a High-Quality American Ginseng Extract
Many supplements contain ginseng, but it’s not always easy to tell if the ginseng used is of good quality or potent enough for you to notice the effect on your body.
To make sure you choose a good-quality ginseng extract, look for a reputable brand. There are many cheap imitation brands on the market that use low-quality ingredients at diluted concentrations.
You should also check the concentration of ginseng in milligram per capsule or dose. Some supplements may contain as little as 100 mg per dose, while concentrated supplements may contain 10 times as much ginseng in each dose.
However, not all ginseng is the same. 100 mg of a potent ginseng root can be as effective as 500 mg of a less potent root.
Ginseng potency is measured by the ginsenoside content. Ginsenosides are the active compounds inside the ginseng root that have a positive effect on the body, such as reduced inflammation.
Ginsenosides build up in the ginseng root over time, and it takes around six years for a ginseng plant to reach its full potency. This can also be affected by climate and soil conditions. Processing the root by steaming and drying can increase the percentage of ginsenosides.
The higher the ginsenoside percentage of a supplement, the more potent it will be.
Anecdotal evidence has been around for thousands of years that taking ginseng can be beneficial for your health. There’s now also mounting scientific evidence that suggests ginseng can be as effective as some commercial medications for reducing stress, treating mental conditions, and balancing hormones.
Ginseng is a very safe herbal remedy and is well tolerated by most people at moderate concentrations. This means you can safely try an American ginseng supplement without worrying about adverse side effects, and see the positive benefits for yourself.
If you’re currently dealing with menopause, stress, or just want to improve your overall health, taking American ginseng can have a dramatic effect and can reduce your reliance on medications and other treatments.