Siberian Ginseng: Boost Energy With This Universal Restorative Toni
Submitted by bbrizman on Thu, 2011-06-30 09:01
Ginseng has been highly prized throughout the centuries for its ability to restore vigor. As Pierre Jartoux, an 18th century French priest, once wrote after learning about the herb on a trip to China, "It is an outstanding remedy for fatigue and excessive physical or mental exhaustion."
Siberian ginseng owes its origins as a tonic to a Russian physician, I. Brekman, who was searching for plants that improve human performance in the 1950s. He discovered eleuthero—Siberian ginseng. Although he did no controlled clinical studies, he gave eleuthero to thousands of workers and found that it countered fatigue, improved performance, and strengthened immunity to disease. He also wrote that ginseng "possesses a remarkably wide range of therapeutic activities protecting the body against stress, radiation, and various chemical toxins … and increasing general resistance." 1
But it wasn't until 1965 that members of the Institute of Biologically Active Substances in Vladivostok, Russia, published the first chemical report on Siberian ginseng, revealing that it contains seven compounds called eleutherosides A-G. 2
Based on numerous clinical studies, we now know that these early investigators were correct. Siberian ginseng provides numerous benefits, including the ability to:
work as an antiviral
strengthen the immune system
improve physical and mental performance
shorten recovery time after exercise or stressful situations
improve sexual function
support the adrenal glands, increasing stress resistance
protect against radiation exposure
help cancer patients tolerate chemotherapy treatment more easily
An adaptogen for normal and stressed individuals
Because Siberian ginseng is an adaptogen—without the stimulating effect of Panax ginseng—it can safely be recommended as a general supplement for both normal and stressed individuals. In a clinical trial of more than 2,100 healthy people ranging in age from 19 to 72 years, Siberian ginseng was shown to:
increase their capacity for mental and physical work, and athletic performance
decrease recovery time from work and injury
improve tolerance of environmental stimuli, such as heat, noise, and work load increase 2
Norman Farnsworth, Ph.D., professor of pharmacognosy at the University of Illinois, Chicago, and his research team, also studied Siberian ginseng's effect on individuals with diseases and illnesses, including angina, hypertension, various types of neuroses, rheumatic heart disease, chronic bronchitis, and cancer.
They found it to be effective in atherosclerotic conditions by lowering elevated serum cholesterol, reducing blood pressure, and eliminating angina symptoms. Not only that, it proved to be genuinely adaptogenic by increasing blood pressure in subjects with low blood pressure.2
Regardless of the psychological complaint, such as insomnia, hypochondria, and various neuroses, Siberian ginseng also helped produce a sense of well-being in the participants. One possible explanation for this is that it improves the balance between various transmitters in the nervous system.2
How does Siberian ginseng decrease stress?
Scientists believe it may help support normal functioning of the adrenal glands by preventing the depletion of stress-fighting hormones. When we get into a stressful situation, the adrenal glands release corticosteroids and adrenaline, which prepare us for the "fight or flight" reaction. But when these hormones are depleted, our body becomes exhausted. Siberian ginseng delays the exhaustive phase and allows a more economical and efficient release of these hormones. 3 4
Here's a typical scenario of what happens: imagine you're late for your kid's soccer game and you're jammed in gridlock on the highway. Or, you're in front of a roomful of co-workers who are waiting to hear your quarterly report, which you're afraid may result in a downsizing. You're stressed … and the pituitary gland at the base of your brain begins releasing adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH). This, in turn, stimulates the production of cortisol—the primary stress hormone— which means your heart begins to race, your palms get sweaty, and your stomach does somersaults. You finally get a burst of energy that helps get you through your ordeal.
But in our hectic world, chances are you run into stressful situations on a weekly, if not daily, basis. Eventually, chronic stress over stimulates the adrenals and they become exhausted and stop responding normally to ACTH. You end up feeling depressed, exhausted, and your health suffers.
The good news is that Siberian ginseng can help
In one study, animals that were given Siberian ginseng had a greater adrenal capacity to respond to stress because the glands produced the hormone more efficiently.5
And a Mexican study of a population subjected to the stress of high physical and mental activity found that ginseng plus a multivitamin supplement improved the quality of life more than vitamins could alone.6
Improves physical and mental endurance
Whether you're training for a marathon or studying for finals, Siberian ginseng can help! Athletes have experienced as much as a 9% improvement in stamina when taking Siberian ginseng. Siberian ginseng has been given to Russian athletes and cosmonauts to provide energy, stimulate activity, and normalize elevated blood pressure and blood sugar response to sport and performance related stress.7
Siberian ginseng also helps improve mental resilience, for example, during exams. It is believed to improve brain function, concentration, memory and learning.
Protects immune system
Siberian ginseng is also an amazing immune protector. It appears to increase the efficiency of natural killer cells and macrophages that devour disease-causing microorganisms, and is especially beneficial to those who want to prevent infection, maintain well-being, and recover from chronic illness. It also stimulates production of interferon, the body's own virus-fighting chemical, and antibodies, which fight bacterial and viral infections.
In one study, 1,500 Russian workers who received ginseng daily lost significantly fewer work days due to colds, flu, tonsillitis, bronchitis, and sinus infections, compared with workers who did not receive the herb.10
Helpful to patients going through chemotherapy or radiotherapy
In cancer therapy, the immune defenses are weakened and Siberian ginseng offers a better tolerance to such treatments. It is also possible that it may offer protection against the development of cancer.
Though the full mechanism is still unknown, Siberian ginseng exerts a protective action by increasing the body's capacity to decrease the toxicity of certain drugs and environmental pollutants.
In one study, it doubled the life span of rats exposed to prolonged radiation (total doses of 1,620 to 7,000 rads). When it was combined with antibiotics, the life span of irradiated rats (60 days; total dose, 3,000 rads) increased threefold. It also exerts a protective action in exposure to radiation.11
Siberian ginseng has been used safely for thousands of years by adults of all ages. If you want to rev up your immune system, avoid illness, rebound from stress more quickly … and just make life a little bit easier for yourself, you may find that it helps you, too!