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HEALTH & FITNESS ARTICLES

Benefits of Ginseng

It’s interesting that in the US, where the past few generations have been raised in a  pharmaceutical environment, the notion of using herbs to help fend off or prevent disease, seems a bit radical to a lot of people. Only about a hundred years ago, the most effective treatments for sickness, were plant based. Some herbs have reportedly been in use since 2800BC. Certainly then, there has been a major paradigm shift, pushing herbal remedies out of the mainstream of traditional western medical education.

Let’s take a look at Ginseng and some of its reported benefits. Ginseng is perhaps one of the most studied herbs for improving human performance.

Background: There are several types including, Asian (Chinese or Korean), Latin name is Panax Ginseng, Siberian and American. Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococus senticosus), also called eleuthero is not considered a true ginseng. Panax is the most common type of ginseng and will be the focus of this discussion. Panax is used extensively in Asian countries for dietary and medicinal purposes. It is available in a wide variety of forms (whole root, root powder, teas, extracts, creams, etc.). Panax root contains steroidal saponins (ginsenoside) that are the likely active ingredients.

Benefits and Side Effects: Some of the purported claims of Panax Ginseng include, enhancing physical capacity, alertness and concentration, greater aerobic capacity, increased muscular strength, treatment for erectile dysfunction, increased feelings of well being, improve longevity, improved health among people recovering from illness. Some of the most common potential side effects include headaches, sleep and gastrointestinal problems and allergic reaction.

Evidence: There are at least two schools of thought, and populations to consider. The Asian community has been using Panax for thousands of years and still continues today, based on tradition and experience. In the west, studies reported by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, show, under certain conditions, statistically significant improvement in concentration, vitality, alertness, visual-motor coordination, reaction times (visual and auditory), increased aerobic capacity, reduced lactate production and improvement in muscular strength. These results have been measured in several studies, over the last 30 years, involving both conditioned and unconditioned subjects, male and female, ages 18 to 65. (A typical protocol required a 200mg dose for up to 12 weeks in order to achieve these results). In spite of this evidence, The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) holds the position that there is not yet enough hard data to prove these health claims. They point to potential flaws in some trials and to the lack of large scale trials as the justification to seek more and better data to sufficiently prove the case. 


This article was provided by Assured Fitness Personal Training
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