Korean ginseng is said to offer many health benefits for humans. As an adaptogen, Panax ginseng, as it is also known, can aid the body in regulating itself under stress. The medical community agrees that the stresses under which the herb can assist a person range from psychological and emotional stresses to physical ones such as extreme heat or cold, exertion, radiation and infection. Also, adaptogens are seen to be those herbs and medications which have no side effects, treat many conditions, and balance the patient’s functions regardless of what happened.
Traditional Chinese herbologists have used ginseng for many centuries to calm a patient’s spirit, aid in digestion, make the lungs stronger, and give the person more energy. However, they always use an approach deemed appropriate for the particular patient since their system states that what works for one person could be too harmful to another to use the one size fits all approach of Western medicine.
Studies have begun to show that ginseng can increase endurance and boost the body’s ability to adapt to stress.
For this reason, doctors versed in herbology will give a patient ginseng to help combat colds, flu viruses, and sometimes even herpes infections. The studies now show that small doses of ginseng, taken before the onset of a cold or flu-like virus can help lessen its severity, if not outright prevent it from attacking the person. Although the scientific community says it is not the best proof of such an effect, levels of antibodies in the blood to ward off infection do rise while a person is taking ginseng extract, thus leading the lay person to believe it. However, one group which should avoid ginseng until more studies are performed is those how have diabetes, because each several studies have contradicted one another at this point as to whether ginseng can assist in lowering blood sugar or whether ginseng could possibly raise a diabetic’s sugar count to dangerous levels.
For otherwise normally functioning, middle-aged men, studies have shown that Korean ginseng enhances their abstract thinking ability. It also helped them with detail-oriented editing and arithmetic tests, but did not aid in memory, reaction time, or concentration skills. Elderly people without signs of dementia can also benefit in similar ways from ginseng as long as the doctor approves such treatment.
Although the quality of some studies may affect their conclusions, Korean ginseng has also been shown to enhance cancer treatments, once again under use as stipulated by the oncologist who recommends it. Some people claim that it has positive effects on a man’s sexual health and function. The studies on ginseng and athletic endurance seem mixed at best, saying that the herb helps those who do no special training stay in shape better than those who train although it does elevate a person’s mood, vigor, and lung function in most scientific trials. Care should be used in interpreting the results of many trials, as they have contained small numbers of subjects and short time spans.