Ginseng (Panax sp.) is one of the world’s most commonly used herbs. In Asia, medicinal ginseng dates back several centuries. In North America, herbal ginseng use dates back to the early settlers, who used the plant to treat a number of conditions. Is ginseng good for you? What do medical experts say about using ginseng for health? Let’s explore.
Ginseng as a Medicinal Herb
In the United States, ginseng is extremely popular, second only to Ginkgo biloba. In fact, ginseng is incorporated into such varied products as tea, chewing gum, chips, health drinks and tinctures.
Medicinal ginseng is lauded for a host of miraculous cures, and has been used as an antidepressant, blood thinner, and immune system booster. Supporters say it relieves maladies ranging from upper respiratory infections to addiction to high blood sugar.
The experts have mixed opinions when it comes to using ginseng for health. An article published by the University of Rochester Medical Center says that thus far, most claims regarding the medicinal benefits of ginseng are unsubstantiated. However, on the positive side, the report says that ginseng has been shown to decrease blood sugar when taken two hours before a meal. This may be good news for people with Type 2 diabetes.
Also, it appears that herbal ginseng improves stamina and boosts the immune system in animals, but such claims haven’t been established in humans. University of Chicago’s Tang Center for Herbal Medicine Research says there are potential therapeutic uses for ginseng, including regulation of blood glucose and carbohydrate metabolism.
Some studies indicate that herbal ginseng may have certain health benefits, including antioxidant properties, stress relief, enhancement of physical endurance and reduction of fatigue in patients undergoing chemotherapy. However, studies are inconclusive and more research is needed.
Using Medicinal Ginseng Safely
Like all herbal treatments, ginseng should be used with care.
Don’t overdo when eating ginseng, as the herb should be used only in moderation. Large amounts of herbal ginseng may trigger side effects such as heart palpitations, agitation, confusion and headaches in some people.
It isn’t advisable to use medicinal ginseng if you are pregnant or going through menopause. Ginseng also shouldn’t be used by people with high blood pressure, or those who take blood thinning medications.
Disclaimer: The contents of this article is for educational and gardening purposes only. Before using or ingesting ANY herb or plant for medicinal purposes or otherwise, please consult a physician, medical herbalist or other suitable professional for advice.