For many centuries now, ginseng has been used in various regions in North America and Asia. A lot of people use it to improve their physical endurance, memory, concentration, thinking or cognition. Not only that, it can also be used as a treatment for anxiety, depression, chronic fatigue, erectile dysfunction and various infections. There is no doubt about the health benefits. If you want to learn more, give this article a read!
Ginseng: What Is It?
Ginseng is a temperate, perennial, flowering herb native to the woodlands of Manchuria and China. Both the American and Asian ginseng types grow best in places that are have good drainage, sandy loam soils and woodland shade.
There are 11 species of ginseng, all of which belong to the Panax genus of the Araliaceae plant family. Botanists call the plant Panax, which translates to ‘heal’ in Greek. The common term ‘ginseng’ generally refers to the American or Asian varieties, which have characteristically different functions to other types, such as crown prince ginseng and Siberian ginseng.
The American ginseng plant has leaves which grow in a circular shape, with yellow-green flowers that create an umbrella-like shape. These grow in the plant’s centre, producing red berries. Flowering usually starts in the 2nd or in the 3rd year and may last up to about 2-3 weeks every season from the month of June up until September. In many farm settings, farmers trim the flora in order for the root to grow bigger.
The rhizome is harvested by pulling the plant after 6 years of sapling, when its berries start to ripen. The roots are then washed in clean water, separated in accordance with their size and processed to obtain either red ginseng or white ginseng.
The exceptional compounds in the Panax species are known as ginsenosides. Ginsenosides are currently under clinical research to investigate their potential for medical use.
Nutritional Value of Ginseng
American ginseng cannot be used until it is approximately 6 years old. Because it is considered endangered in its natural habitat, it is now grown and harvested in farms. As it ages, the plant develops wrinkles; the older the plant is, the more valuable it is, because its health benefits are more profuse in older roots.
Ginseng actually contains a lot of pharmacological components, including tetracyclic triterpenoid saponins, polyphenolic compounds, polyacetylenes and acidic polysaccharides. All of these are essential for the health. Continue reading to learn about the different health benefits of ginseng.
Health Benefits of Ginseng
Here are some of the most astounding health benefits of ginseng:
- Helps boost immunity. Research suggests that ginseng boosts the immune systems, helping the body fight off infections and diseases. The roots, leaves and stems of the plant help maintain homeostasis and enhance the body’s resistance to illnesses.
- Helps prevent cancer. Research shows that ginseng has the ability to prevent cancer, as it can inhibit tumor growth. This is probably its best health benefit.
- Helps lower blood sugar. Various studies suggest that tAmerican ginseng lowers blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes.
- Helps improve lung function. Ginseng has the ability to reduce lung bacteria and stop the growth of cystic fibrosis, a lung infection.
- Helps treat sexual dysfunction. Ginseng, specifically red ginseng, increases sexual arousal and treats erectile dysfunction.
- Helps with weight loss. Ginseng can act as a natural appetite suppressant while simultaneously boosting metabolism and burning fat more quickly.
- Possesses anti-inflammatory properties. Korean ginseng can stabilize the effects of inflammatory cytokines in those who have cancer after therapy.
- Helps improve brain function. Ginseng is beneficial in stimulating brain cells and improving concentration and cognitive activities.
- Helps improve moods and reduce stress. Various studies suggest that adding high amounts of ginseng to the diet may increase calmness and improve mental arithmetic. It also has essential anti-stress properties.