We love testing out the coolest products on the market, especially when they have ties to healthier living! While using herbs for medicinal purposes is far from a new concept, you might not have heard of ginseng before — even though it's one of the most popular herbal medicines in the world. It's believed to have multiple health benefits and can be taken in a variety of ways.
Ginseng is a broad term referring to 11 varieties of a plant and typically grows in North America and Asia. We talked to Josh Axe, DNM, DC, CNS, a doctor of natural medicine, to see how it could be a worthwhile supplement to add to your daily routine.
You really hit the variety jackpot when it comes to ginseng. Capsules are probably the easiest option, but it also comes in powdered form. You can even use the dried root in your soup or tea, or just buy ginseng tea. Just make sure that any product you're purchasing is from a reputable retailer, Axe said. Doses have been studied from 200 milligrams to one gram per day. "In general, sticking to 200 to 400 milligrams daily is likely to provide the most benefit if you're just looking to improve your overall health," Axe explained. It's best to start with a low dose and increase from there if needed.
But why should you take ginseng at all? Well, it can improve the performance of cells that fight infection and disease, so your overall immune system gets a boost. Ginseng can also help reduce inflammation, which is the culprit behind many diagnoses such as heart disease, diabetes, and even cancer.
Get ready to smile! Ginseng is one of the most well-known adaptogens, which can help anxiety receptors. It's believed to reduce stress and have a mood-enhancing effect. "Promising research has found that ginseng may help boost cognition and memory, with some studies even suggesting that it could improve mental performance in those with Alzheimer's disease," Axe said. It sounds like a dose is a great way to start the day!
Ginseng's impact on weight is one area that still needs to be explored more. However, some animal studies show that it can help normalize blood sugar levels, Axe said. Insulin is one of the main hormones that controls hunger, and ginseng may improve insulin sensitivity, which reduces hunger and can lead to weight loss.
"If you're taking antidepressants, antipsychotics, stimulants, morphine, blood thinners, or diabetes medications, you should talk to your doctor before taking ginseng to prevent an interaction with your medications," Axe said. Also, it's not recommended for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Like with any medication, herbal or not, there is a chance of side effects. Ginseng's are typically mild and can include headaches and insomnia. Negative symptoms could result from long-time use as well. So talk with your doctor before using, and if you get a green light, give it a try! We could all use a health boost every now and then.