Ginseng in health food shops: benefits and properties
In a previous article we spoke about the health benefits of ginger.
We continue this journey of discovery regards plants rich in properties and benefits which are important for our bodies, and on this occasion we will be focusing on ginseng.
Ginseng is well known for its energizing and adaptogenic properties which are typical of herbal remedies. Those properties can increase the body’s physical and psychic resistance to various types of stress.
What you may not know is that there are actually 11 types of this small root plant, the Panex species, which have a long stalk, oval-shaped green leaves and fleshy pale-coloured roots. These roots are highly-prized by health food outlets.
Let’s take a look together at what we know about ginseng; a simple root simply bursting with usefulness and practical applications.
Ginseng can be selected and classified in 3 different ways, according to plant growth:
- Fresh: harvested before 4 years
- White: harvest between 4 and 6 years
- Red: harvested after 6 years
Ginseng is a plant that has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine, and it’s not simple chance that has made it one of the most-used plant medicines across the world.
The two most widely-used varieties of ginseng in health food stores are American ginseng, with superior relaxation properties, and Asian ginseng, rich in reinvigorating properties.
In phytotherapy, on the other hand, it is used to stimulate the immune system and to combat fatigue and lethargy, both mental and physical.
Ginseng contains roughly 12 bioactive substances. The main compounds are ginsenoside and gintonin which work in synch to award us super health benefits.
Even though further medical research is necessary, it would appear that ginseng brings many good things to our bodies, provided a healthy diet is undertaken too.
The benefits that ginseng brings to our bodies
The benefits that can be gained for our bodies via the consumption of ginseng are literally multiple. It is good for mind and body health alike, due to the relaxation properties.
Let’s take a look together at the major benefits of ginseng for our bodies:
- It possesses antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties: it can reduce inflammation and protect cells from oxidative stress.
- It assists in brain function: ginseng regenerates cognitive abilities thus improving memory, mood and behaviour.
- It helps the immune system: ginseng’s anti-allergic and anti-microbe properties can strengthen immune defences and inhibit flu viruses.
- It reduces fatigue: it can increase the energy levels of cells within our bodies, tackling feelings of lethargy.
- It reduces blood sugar levels: fermented red ginseng can increase insulin production and improve sugar absorption.
- It facilitates weight loss: it can keep a healthy appetite in check, increase metabolism and help burn fats.
We can get access to all these benefits simply by including ginseng in our daily diet, provided that we eating balanced and healthy meals.
How to introduce ginseng into your diet
Adding the ginseng root into your diet is really easy. It can be taken in various ways:
- steamed to make it softer
- boiled to make tea and infusions
Also, in health food stores you can find capsule, powder, tablet, oil and dietary supplement forms.
The recommended doses to take vary according to a number of factors, such as weight, the duration of use and the actual effect you are seeking.
Within the Italiano Diet program, you will find ginseng in our Energizing Tonic, as one of the 10 plants in the decottopia therapy.
Finally, we need to remember that it is not advisable to take ginseng when pregnant or during breastfeeding.
As we have seen though, everyone else can use the root moderately thus accessing all the various benefits of this adaptogenic vegetable.