Ginseng: Energizing or Not?
By Jill Turner, Vice President of Operations for Cooper Concepts
We recently had a reader write in and ask us our opinion on Ginseng, a supplement not currently in the Cooper Complete line.
Ginseng is most commonly marketed as an herb that will improve overall energy, particularly in those who are tired or stressed. In fact, in 1997 sales topped $300 million annually as a result. Unfortunately, the scientific research to date hasn’t been able to confirm that ginseng helps improve energy at all, so these claims are unsupported by research but well-believed marketing pitches.
Ginseng is a dried root of one of several species of the Araliaceae, of Ivy, family of herbs. Ginseng comes in several forms – Asian (Panax ginseng) and American (P. quinquefolius L.) are the most common, but there’s also a Siberian (Eleutherococcus senticosus) ginseng which is much less expensive, but doesn’t contain the same active compounds as American and Asian ginseng.
Ginseng root that is mostly unprocessed is called “white ginseng” while “red ginseng” is typically Asian ginseng root that has been steamed and dried. Traditional Chinese medicine delineates between the “white” and “red” form, but scientific evidence doesn’t indicate significant differences.
Researchers have also studied the impact of ginseng on other health conditions, and have found that American ginseng may lower blood sugar levels before and after meals in patients with type II (adult onset) diabetes. Because of this, diabetics should work with their physicians when adding ginseng to their supplement regiment.
Long-term use of ginseng doesn’t seem to be the norm. Typically, the product is taken for two or three weeks, and then followed by a one to two week “rest” period.
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