Most people don’t know much about the culinary benefits of ginseng. You’ve likely come across this ingredient in diffusers, candles, and skincare products, and you’ll be familiar with its distinct spicy aroma. Ginseng is commonly used in spa environments, as it’s thought to have calming and soothing qualities. It’s also a popular herbal tea ingredient.
There are far more uses to ginseng than many of us realise. This edible root has an appearance similar to ginger, and has been used as a herbal supplement in Chinese medicine for centuries. Most well-known for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, ginseng is available as American ginseng and Asian ginseng. In terms of its health properties, American ginseng is more potent than Asian ginseng.
If you didn’t even know what ginseng looked like until now, it’s unlikely that you know how to prepare or eat it. This guide will teach you everything you need to know about this fascinating herbal supplement – its health benefits, its uses, and anything else you should consider before adding it to your diet.
Let’s dive into the top benefits of ginseng.
1. Reduces inflammation
Ginseng is particularly renowned for its anti-inflammatory properties, and has been used for centuries to treat illness and pain for that reason. Research shows that ginseng’s antioxidant content makes it effective in boosting immunity, helping to ward off illnesses and boost overall health as a result.
In traditional medicine, ginseng is used to reduce redness, swelling, pain and soreness. One study found that ginseng can be used to treat fibromyalgia, reducing pain and tender points across the body.
2. Reduces cancer risk
Ginseng’s anti-inflammatory properties go far beyond the herb’s ability to treat pain. Research suggests that ginseng may even be capable of preventing and treating some forms of cancer. Being a chemopreventative agent, ginseng has been found in studies to reduce cancers in the liver, stomach, colon and pancreas. It can also treat some of the side effects of chemotherapy, such as fatigue and quality of life on the whole, according to further studies.
3. Could improve male sexual dysfunction
Sexual dysfunction is a common problem that can often be treated by making the right changes to diet and lifestyle. So before you visit your doctor to discuss the issue, you may want to try ginseng as a natural remedy first.
This herb has been found in clinical studies to improve erectile dysfunction when taken in high quantities. It’s thought that ginseng can stimulate blood vessels to dilate, improving blood flow. This isn’t new information, either – the herb has been used for years as a traditional Chinese medicine for this very reason.
4. Fights fatigue and low energy
We all feel low on energy from time to time, but if you’re consistently fatigued, you may be unable to live your life to the full. Thankfully, there are plenty of natural remedies that can give you the energy boost you need.
Ginseng, according to studies, can lower oxidative stress and improve cell energy production, which in turn helps to ward off fatigue and tiredness. Additionally, further research found that ginseng may even be able to improve physical activity.
5. Supports healthy brain function
As we get older, it’s natural for our brain health to decline somewhat – but there plenty of ways to keep your memory, concentration and learning skills intact. Studies have found that ginseng can boost several different brain functions related to mood, memory and behaviour.
According to research, adding ginseng to your daily diet should help you to retain information more easily and improve your concentration and focus. Ginseng can also improve cognitive abilities on the whole, and can play a role in preventing and managing degenerative brain diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s.
6. Reduces menstrual pain
Some women experience more severe menstrual pain than others, to the point where the discomfort can affect their ability to perform day-to-day activities. If you’re on the hunt for a natural remedy for menstrual pain, ginseng is well worth trying out.
This herb has been found in studies to reduce pain and discomfort – but that’s not all. Ginseng can even reduce menstrual bleeding and improve regularity, as well as controlling hormone production, which may in turn control mood swings and other common symptoms related to menstruation and PMS.
7. Controls diabetes symptoms
Thanks to its ability to control blood sugar levels in the body and regulate the absorption of glucose, ginseng can act as a natural diabetes preventer. Studies have found that this herb can inhibit sudden increases in blood sugar levels, helping to prevent the occurrence of the disease.
Additionally, ginseng can be used by diabetes patients to improve their symptoms, enabling them to better manage their blood sugar levels and providing some relief from the disorder.
8. Supports weight loss
If you’re on a weight-loss mission, you’ll get much better long-term benefits from doing it the healthy way – cutting down on the bad stuff and upping your exercise intake. You can also add natural weight-loss foods to your diet, such as ginseng. This herb is a natural appetite suppressant, meaning it’ll help you to stay feeling fuller for longer between meals.
It’s also a diuretic, and can assist in flushing out your body’s unwanted toxins and preventing fat build-up. In one study, ginseng had a weight loss effect on all participants, particularly as a result of its gut benefits.
9. Slows ageing
Ageing is completely natural – it happens to us all, and it’s something that’s best not to fight. However, if you do want to embrace your youth for as long as possible, there’s nothing wrong with that.
Ginseng can help to slow ageing by reducing face wrinkling and helping the skin to maintain its natural elasticity. With its impressive antioxidant properties, it can also extend the lifespan of cells and fight against free radicals, which are responsible for early ageing and even cancer.
10. Improves skin health
Curious to learn why ginseng is such a key ingredient in so many skincare products? It’s because it’s highly effective in stimulating blood flow, especially around the skin cells. Improved blood flow helps our skin to stay hydrated, which gives it a youthful, healthy glow.
Considering the skin is the largest organ in the body, looking after it in every way we can is vital for our overall health.
11. Reduces anxiety and stress
We all face stress and anxiety from time to time – but it becomes a problem when your body begins to react to everyday situations with higher levels of adrenaline than required. While it’s best to seek medical advice if you’re struggling with mental health issues, adding ginseng to your diet may help to boost your mood.
Studies have found that regularly consuming ginseng can reduce the production of cortisol, one of the most prominent stress hormones in the body. Additionally, ginseng can boost energy levels and improve metabolic function, which has also been linked to reduced anxiety and stress levels.
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12. Reduces respiratory issues
Ginseng may be effective in treating a number of respiratory issues, according to several studies. It’s thought that ginseng may have a positive effect on the inflammatory responses in the lungs, which can improve lung functioning of people with diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
In one study of people with COPD, ginseng produced significant improvements in participants’ ability to breathe and perform exercise, compared with participants who took no ginseng and experienced no difference.
13. Hair growth aid
Trying to grow your hair naturally can be a hassle, but oftentimes, simply adding the right foods to your diet can be a big help. Ginseng is considered one of the best hair growth foods as it contains a carbohydrate that has been found in studies to prevent alopecia, a common hair-loss disorder, as well as male-pattern baldness.
It’s thought that regularly consuming ginseng can encourage the production of dermal cells on the scalp, which can strengthen hair follicles and roots, preventing breakage and thinning.
14. Improves heart health
Looking after your heart is vitally important if you want to live a long, healthy life. Ginseng is a fantastic food to add to your heart-health diet, as it can boost blood pressure and heart rate during exercise, as well as increasing the cardiac output and blood circulations.
Now that you’re well-informed of the uses and benefits of this remedial root, you’re probably keen to add ginseng to your diet sooner rather than later – but how? For the sake of simplicity, it’s best to use ginseng exactly as you’d use ginger, grating it into your stir fries and Asian dishes for a flavour kick or taking it separately as a herbal supplement. You could also add ginseng to boiling water to make a tea, adding a bit of honey to taste.
If you haven’t knowingly tried ginseng yet, give it a go! Pick some up from your local supermarket or online here the next time you’re out and about. If you happen to find the taste of raw ginseng unpleasant, you could always take ginseng supplements in the form of tablet or powder form or oils.
It’s clear that ginseng is the underdog when it comes to nutritionally abundant foods – and it’s about time this lesser-known herb made its debut in today’s world of health and wellness.