Ginseng is one of the most well-known oriental medicinal herbs. Its scientific name is Panax ginseng, Panax meaning “all-healing” in Greek. Ginseng (which means “man-root” in Mandarin) is pronounced with a ‘soft g’ as in ‘jinseng’. It has been widely used as an herbal remedy for various disorders. Natural-dried ginseng is known as white ginseng, and red ginseng is prepared by steaming fresh ginseng root prior to drying on the purpose of enhancing efficacy, safety, and preservation.
Our focus is on Korean red ginseng (KRG) which has been used in Eastern Medicine for about four thousand years. An essential ingredient of the Asian pharmacopoeia, ginseng root (or rhizome) has a very long history of use Practitioners of Chinese medicine have always considered ginseng to be a Qi tonic (“vital energy”). Chinese emperors, noblemen and the Imperial guards in particular, benefited from its many medicinal properties. There have been over 8000 studies published in PubMed regarding Korean Red Ginseng.
Korean Red Ginseng is a very significant herbal medicine known for its pharmacological effects in Asia, especially Korea and China Many studies have shown its role as herbal medicine in controlling anticancer, cardiovascular disease, immunity, diabetes, and skin activity. In particular, its most representative pharmacological effect is the regulation of the immune system and protection from external infections.
Today, many people face issues that weaken their immune system. Environmental pollutants, medicinal side effects, diseases, stress, and irregular or Westernized diets all contribute to situations that weaken our immune system. It has been reported that the KRG acidic polysaccharide (RGAP) is a great functional material with immune—physiological activity that reduces the change in immune function or restores its function. Immune response is a protective action that eliminates the disease-prone environment induced by the invasion of foreign objects and repairs the body. Such defense mechanisms are divided into innate and adaptive immune responses. This innate immune response is the first barrier of defense against various infections caused by external sources. It includes physical/chemical defenses like the acidity of the skin, mucous membranes, and stomach, the activity of immune cells, as well as the activation of blood proteins such as complements and inflammatory mediators.
How to obtain maximum benefit from ginseng
Ginseng is best taken in the morning because of its stimulant effect. You should not exceed 2g (2000mg) a day. Many practitioners recommend taking ginseng for no longer than 3 months in succession. If you want to extend the supplementation period, take a one-week break every 3 weeks.
If you suffer from hypertension, heart problems or are taking anticoagulants, please consult your doctor before starting a course of ginseng supplements.
Other dietary supplements that can be taken in combination with KRG to support immunity include:
- Zinc: An essential trace-element which supports normal immune system and cognitive function
- Vitamin D: Research shows that having healthy levels of vitamin D can help keep your immune system healthy and may protect against respiratory illnesses in general.
- Vitamin C: contributes to immune defense by supporting various cellular functions of both the innate and adaptive immune system.
- Reishi: The benefits of which were also enjoyed by Chinese emperors. This “mushroom of immortality” helps to maintain healthy circulation.
Overall, many supplements are a great and simple way to boost your immunity. Due to our western diet we struggle to get these key vitamins, so supplements can help.