In many places around the world, Ginseng has earned its reputation for being a wonder herb and is celebrated for the benefits it offers for the brain, body, and immunity. It is no surprise that the herb’s importance and medicinal value have been documented even during ancient times, as it has traditionally been used as an important herbal medicine in Far East Asia.
Due to its enduring popularity over time, ginseng has become part of many traditions. The habit of taking ginseng has been passed on to modern-day Asia, particularly in countries such as Korea, Japan, and China.
The herb itself stands out because of its unusual appearance. Ginseng has been called as “man-root,” a nod to the physical appearance of the roots that grow out as fork-shaped, similar to legs of a man. These roots and root hairs are actually prized for their medicinal effects and benefits.
The Ginseng family has been categorized as Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng) and American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius), characterized by the presence of ginsenosides. Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus), a distant relative, doesn’t have this active component. Instead, it has a different compound called eleutherosides.
Let’s take a closer look at the incredible health benefits of ginseng for the body.
Various studies have credited ginsenosides as the main compound in ginseng that enhances one’s mental health and protects the brain from various disorders. Notably, ginseng is widely popular as a natural memory enhancer. In fact, the herb can be used to treat and prevent various neurodegenerative disorders such as the dreaded Alzheimer's disease to some extent.
A study has shown that an Alzheimer's disease patient that uses 4.5 grams of this herb per day shows improve cognitive function. Moreover, researchers found that ginsenosides were able to reduce inflammation in the brain. Yet another study indicated that ginseng increased the levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factors (BDNF), which encouraged the healthy growth of cells present in the brain.
Cementing its role in boosting one’s memory, ginseng’s natural wonders have been revealed to play a dual role—it has anti-inflammatory attributes that protect from the decline in memory, while the saponins present in ginseng boost the antioxidant defenses of new memories in an aging brain.
Protection from Mental Disorders
Ginseng’s herbal qualities go beyond memory enhancement, as it has been also been found to protect the brain from other possible woes. Ginseng’s active components are found to regulate neurotransmitter levels as well as reduce oxidative stress and inflammation in the brain. To this end, ginseng helps to prevent the death of cells. In one study, the herb has been found to be an effective neuroprotective agent that shields the brain from several disorders, such as stroke, depression, and Parkinson's disease.
The herb has also been found beneficial to help patients with schizophrenia. An experimental study revealed that ginseng extract is highly useful in reducing oxidative stress and psychosis in patients suffering from schizophrenia. In the study, around 70 schizophrenic patients were treated with ginseng and were found to have improved memory.
Ginseng’s Public Proliferation and Consumption
With its many benefits, ginseng has been regarded as the “King of Herbs.” For many centuries, the preparation of ginseng is a known equalizer among early civilizations as the herb has been prepared everywhere from the most exclusive chambers of royal families to the kitchens of common folk. These days, ginseng maintains its reputation as a fixture in many households. However, it now takes many different forms such as tea, capsules, or even as a seasoning in food preparation. Whatever the form and dosage, production and distribution have been made readily available for broad public consumption.
Read our guide to learn more about the benefits of Korean Ginseng. Final Words
As widespread as ginseng is, not all are made the same. The secret? Ginseng roots take time to form and be ripen for harvesting. For ginseng to offer all the health benefits, it should be grown for at least six years. Herbal supplements and products that contain the 6-years-grown or older Korean Red Ginseng is a gold standard for its herbal qualities. The list of ginseng’s benefits continues to be added to over time. In a few years, we may discover something that we never knew before. What is important to remember—lest we forget—is that adding ginseng to your daily supplements can significantly improve your physical and mental health.
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