As we live in a world where we are thrown into a never ending stream of stress-inducing incidents and events, we are in need of building our bodies defence to handle the extra stress. Natural remedies and plant extracts have been used for centuries to cure ailments and help to rebalance our bodies, protecting us from the inside out and they continue to impress us to this day.
Ginseng is one herb that has been used for thousands of years for tackling stress related problems and is also extremely useful in aiding us in boosting our energy levels and memory capabilities.
As one of the most popular types of herbs in the world, out of the 11 species which are available, a couple of them stand as holding the primary benefits. We've been looking into them...
Chinese medicine has used this type of ginseng for years due to it's 'cool' calming effects. The tan coloured root contains ginsenosides (phytochemicals which have adaptogenic properties). These are thought to be the cause of many of its benefits, including its ability to counteract the effects of stress.
This version cannot be used for medicinal purposes until it is at least six years old. The older the plant, the more valuable it is and unfortunately due to over harvesting, this particular type of ginseng are quickly becoming endangered in the wild. However, it is also grown on farms, preventing it from disappearing altogether.
As well as boosting energy levels, American ginseng can also be used to fight infections such as colds and flu and used to combat diseases of the intestines, helping to improve digestion and for people who have lost their appetite.
Korean ginseng is also known as Chinese ginseng, Asian ginseng and Asiatic ginger. Its primary actives are again, ginsenosides. The Korean ginseng is sweet to taste at first but has a bitter aftertaste. Only the root part of the plant is used, and it is available as a ground powder of the whole root, as cut and dried roots or as a liquid or powder extract.
The main active in this herb acts on our adrenal glands, helping to prevent excess corticosteroid production in response to when we are feeling stressed - hence why it is so highly recommended to calm us down if we experience high-stress levels.
Its extraordinary abilities don't stop at helping the stressed ones among us. Studies have been conducted to test if ginseng can stimulate the formation of blood vessels and improves blood circulation in the brain, thereby improving memory and cognitive abilities - so far, so good.
If you are a keen athlete or train regularly, then ginseng can help you too. It helps people who exercise to use oxygen more efficiently, and it is also believed to regulate metabolism, therefore increase energy levels. It can be used for recovery after playing sports, as it lowers the time it takes to recover after a long session.
Other types of ginseng
There are other types of ginseng, although they all have different properties and may not be so well known, with fewer studies having been conducted.
Siberian Ginseng - This is particularly good at allowing our bodies deal with metabolic stress. It provides a sustained energy boost/ improvement in physical performance, but it does not contain the same active ingredient, ginsenosides, that American and Korean ginseng do. Fushi has utilised the use of this type in their Fushi Siberian Ginseng Capsules.
Brazillian Ginseng - Likely to scavenge free radicals from the body and few studies shows that it seems to improve physical performance.
Indian Ginseng - This version has a variety of neuroprotective effects, which may aid in improving some elements of cognition and it is also a known potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.