An organism that demonstrates a biochemical change in response to stressors or different environmental conditions is known as physiological adaptation. This adaptive ability conveys the organism from its normal steady-state to a heightened level of dynamic equilibrium. This dynamic equilibrium could be achieved by consuming adaptogens.
An adaptogen is a substance that: (1) shows some non-specific effect, (2) has a normalizing influence on a pathological state, and (3) is innocuous and does not disturb body functions.
Plant adaptogens have been considered substances that increase an organism's ability to adapt to environmental factors and avoid damage from stressors.
In this article, we discuss the well-known plant adaptogen, Panax Ginseng.
What is Panax Ginseng
Panax Ginseng is often described as the herb king. It has long been used in the Far East, particularly in Korea and China, as a respected herbal medicine in maintaining physical vitality. Panax (Pan=all + axos=medicine) means "cure-all" in Greek.
Panax is a slow-growing perennial plant with fleshy roots. It grows in cooler climate regions of the Northern Hemisphere. The earliest therapeutic use of Panax Ginseng can be traced back approximately 2000 years ago. (1)
Two major methods could process raw Panax Ginseng. First, it can be sun-dried to form white Ginseng or steamed to form red Ginseng.
Panax Ginseng has many pharmacological activities, including the anti-inflammatory activity of pulmonary function and erectile dysfunction, improvement of cognition in patients with Alzheimer's disease, and cancer prevention.
Panax Ginseng Benefits
Panax Ginseng and Energy
Ginseng increases energy and vitality when you feel that you need a boost. It is ideal for those situations when you feel depleted, wake up tired, or have low motivation.
It is a safe, effective, and natural stimulant that can boost your energy without the agitation, jittery feelings, and other unpleasant side effects associated with other stimulants, such as caffeine.
Ginseng works as both a short-term stimulant and a long-term remedy. In addition to helping you overcome brief periods of fatigue, Ginseng is also an effective tonic when taken consistently for months or years.
One study of 21 men and 69 women found that Ginseng showed good results in helping people with chronic fatigue. (2)
A 2014 study of people receiving cancer treatment found that Ginseng helped reduce cancer-related fatigue. (3)
The biggest selling point is that the effects of Ginseng build up over time. So regular use of Ginseng will lead you to a healthy energy level that you can sustain. That's why it's described as a tonic rather than a stimulant. A substance that invigorates and strengthens.
Ginseng and Cognitive Function
Ginseng revs up the nervous system and speeds reaction times and reflexes. Studies have shown that Ginseng increases the efficiency of cerebral activity, effectively helping the brain work faster and more accurately.
Ginseng's ability to improve cognition processes was examined in a 2018 report. (4) It concluded that Ginseng components have the potential to treat some cognitive deficits. In addition, human and animal studies showed that Ginseng could reduce oxidative stress, leading to enhancement in cognitive function.
Ginseng is also promising in enhancing cognitive function in patients with Alzheimer's disease. A 2016 study involved 14 people, three men and 11 women, aged between 73 and 93 years old. The patients received 4.5 grams of Panax Ginseng for 12 weeks. The study concluded that Ginseng helped improve frontal brain lobe function. (5)
Ginseng and Stress
Stress is unavoidable; it is part of being alive. Some people can cope with stress better than others. Your attitude and personality have a lot to do with how you handle stress and how your body reacts to it.
Ginseng assists your body in taking in more oxygen, pumping more blood, metabolizing more sugar, and generating more energy, which makes it helpful in situations that demand a great deal of physical output. But this also makes it useful when you are under emotional stress and your body reacting as if you were being forced to take instantaneous physical action.
In such circumstances, your adrenal glands are pouring adrenaline into your system. The adrenaline creates a state of alertness and mobilization of the body’s defenses. So from a hormonal point of view, you’re fighting for your life. If you take Ginseng, your adrenal glands secrete less adrenaline and switch off more efficiently when the crisis is over. As a result, your body returns to normal more quickly. Consequently, less damage is done to your health. (6)
One study proved that taking Ginseng produces stress hormones more quickly and makes them disappear from the body more quickly. This is good news because the presence of these hormones in the body well after their physical need has expired causes the damage found in people exposed to long-term stress. (7)
Ginseng and Immune System
Your overall health depends on the ability of your immune system to fight off diseases. Ginseng has been shown to increase the number of infection-fighting natural killer (NK) cells and white blood cells. (8) Blood samples analyzed after one month of regular Ginseng use showed a range of positive effects; the immune-enhancing benefits were even more significant after two months.
One study found that people who take Ginseng could have up to 35% higher chance of living a disease-free life for five years after surgery and up to a 38% higher survival rate than those who don’t take it. (9)
Ginseng and Cancer
During the development of tumors, vast amounts of nutrients and oxygen are required to sustain the rapid proliferation of tumor cells. However, tumor cells can still survive under extreme conditions such as low oxygen and carbohydrate availability due to their relatively high tolerance to hostile environments. Studies showed that the intake of Ginseng might reduce the risk of several types of cancer. (10)
Ginsenosides in this herb reduce inflammation and provide antioxidant protection. (11) The cell cycle is the process by which cells usually grow and divide. Ginsenosides can benefit this cycle by preventing abnormal cell production and growth. (12)
One study observed that people taking Ginseng could be less likely to develop certain types of cancer, such as lung, liver, colon, stomach, and mouth cancer. (13)
Safety and Side effects
Ginseng is remarkably safe and doesn’t produce any serious adverse effects. However, children and pregnant or breastfeeding women are advised to avoid it.
Ginseng is the best tonic medicine, a safe, healthy-enhancing herb that can aid energy, vitality, performance, and activity. Its most profound effects are on those suffering from exhaustion, stress, burn-out, chronic fatigue, or other symptoms associated with aging.
(5)Effect of Korean Red Ginseng on Cognitive Function and Quantitative EEG in Patients with Alzheimer's Disease: A Preliminary Study | The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine (liebertpub.com)