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More About Ginseng and its Benefits
Ginseng is a type of natural herb that has been used for health reasons for many centuries. The earliest recorded instances of ginseng use occurred in Shangdang, China, and took prominence during the development of Chinese pharmaceutics.1 American ginseng, commonly referred to as Panax quinquefolius L.1, is another popular type of ginseng that’s known to have benefits for the whole body.2 Its active ingredients, called ginsenosides, have been shown to have many benefits, though not all have been proven through research. Some of ginseng’s benefits include:
- Boosting the immune system
- Improving mental and physical performance
- Speeding recovery time from illnesses
- Protecting against the effects of radiation
- Widening blood vessels, which lowers blood pressure2
The Effects of Ginseng on a Cold
Though ginseng has a number of benefits for a person’s overall health, there have been numerous studies showing the positive effects of ginseng on someone with the common cold. In this particular study, two capsules of North American ginseng, also known as Panax quinquefolius, were administered daily to participants in one group, while the others received a placebo over a four month period. According to the findings, researchers estimated the absolute risk reduction of recurrent colds to be about 12.8 percent less when taking ginseng.
Moreover, in another similar study, symptom severity was less pronounced in the ginseng group, and colds lasted an average of six days less than the duration of those in the placebo group. These studies suggest that ginseng can help the immune system while fighting off the common cold.
When Not to Take Ginseng
Even though ginseng can be beneficial to fighting the common cold, there are medications that shouldn’t be mixed with ginseng. For example, your doctor may recommend that you not take ginseng while on any diabetes medications, since ginseng works to lower blood sugar.3 If you were to use ginseng while on a diabetic medication, then you may lower your blood pressure to a level that isn’t healthy.3 Furthermore, because the effects of ginseng on pregnant women haven’t been as thoroughly studied, pregnant women or women who are breastfeeding may want to avoid taking ginseng.3
Ginseng can also cause unpleasant side effects when taken with certain antidepressants and immunosuppressants. It’s important to talk with your doctor before using ginseng while sick or when on any medications. Due to the various types of ginseng, you may want to further investigate the different types you can buy and ask your doctor if the American or Asian ginseng plant would be better for you.3
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1. Ginseng. https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?contenttypeid=19&contentid=Ginseng. Accessed on 5/26/2021.
2. A Study on the Origins of Korean Ginseng. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15309758/. Accessed on 5/26/2021.
3. Ginseng Can Help Colds But Comes with Warnings. https://shine365.marshfieldclinic.org/wellness/ginseng/. Accessed on 5/26/2021.