Ginseng and Stress Relief – What Does it Do? Does it work?

The effects of stress can take a toll on our health in many ways, not the least of which is how it affects our mental and physical health. Fortunately, there are ways to help alleviate these negative effects of stress, and the consumption of a natural substance called ginseng has been shown to be one such way.

Surprising to some and well-known to others, ginseng has been shown to improve mood. Studies have tested its uniquely natural ability to reduce stress levels and high glucose levels related to stress. This special plant is often used as a herbal tonic to treat psychological and physical illnesses caused by stress on the body. These are things associated with things like anxiety, panic, depression often caused by work-related or day-to-day pressures of modern living.

The Science Bit – The Adaptogen ‘Ginseng’

Within herbal medicine, a natural substance that can be used safely in the human body is called an adaptogen. Adaptogens are used to help the body adapt to levels of stress and counteract symptoms where the body itself is struggling or under pressure. Ginseng is exactly that; an adaptogen. It is a superior herb and able to naturally balance physical and mental changes to the body caused by life stresses.

As certain types of stress secrete hormones via the brain and endocrine system, the pituitary gland is activated to produce a stress hormone. In turn, this signals the adrenal glands to produce cortisol, the primary stress hormone. This is a perfectly natural occurrence although when overworked this process can cause detrimental biological stress responses to the body if sugar (glucose) levels get too high. Naturally produced cortisol released during this process is one of the ways the body controls blood sugar levels. However, too much can cause serious negative alterations to the body’s natural balance and lead to severe imbalances though they can be treated.

Why We Use Ginseng

In our modern world, it’s rare for us to depend on a herbal remedy as the sole treatment for illness and disease. That said, this ideal has turned around hugely over the years largely due to ginseng being one of the medicinal herbs that are frequently tested.

Modern life brings with it pressures and strains that have serious effects on the way our brains work. These stresses can be caused by all manner of things, causing an overactive brain due to things such as being overworked, financial worries, poor living arrangements, ill-health; in fact, anyone can feel stress for any reason, at any time. Ginseng can aid biological stress responses produced by the body and is a popular choice for those wishing to avoid being treated medically. However, ginseng is known to be able to positively interact with certain medications too.

Herbal ginseng is widely used by people not wanting to use mainline medicines and preferring to treat symptoms with a herbal alternative. Illnesses that can be helped with ginseng include anxiety, depression. It may also help with impotence, diabetic patients in weight loss, and even with mild and chronic panic disorders. Almost a super-herb, it positively helps to regulate blood sugar levels and strengthen the immune system. Ginseng even has the ability to treat severe illnesses affected by imbalances in the immune system. Anti-stress effects have been studied and shown that ginseng compares extremely well to alternative ‘controlled’ substances. This is perhaps why it is such a popular choice. It can be taken as a tonic or in tablet form and can be purchased as aged roots for maximum potency.

The History Bit – Where it’s From

Ginseng has a long history of medicinal use, dating back more than 3,000 years to ancient China. It was found in a tomb in the Choson Dynasty, and evidence found in the tomb indicates that it was used in a tea to treat some of the same medical issues we use it for today, including the common cold, diabetes, and high blood pressure.

Ginseng has become a staple in modern-day herbal pharmaceuticals, after being discovered thousands of years ago in the Northern mountains of China. It is thought the plant was used as, and in, food because of its anecdotal healing properties.

Fast forward through the years and vast exports to America, it has always been on an uphill trend and the price it attracts today still depends on quality, age, and demand. Wild Ginseng is rare so the majority we buy today is supplied by commercial growers who can meet the huge demand of its popularity. Ginseng is usually taken by those among us who prefer to try herbs that have been trialed and show properties that help with certain parts of the body’s healing process.

Of the several types of Ginseng used in today’s herbal supplements, perhaps the most used is Panax ginseng – a Korean plant that also grows in far Eastern Siberia. Panax ginseng is the most studied of the ginseng family and therefore often referred to as ‘true ginseng’. Panax has been shown to assist in blood glucose levels and stress-related damage of the circulatory system. It possesses the most potent properties of the ginseng family although it does not directly alter cortisol levels with short-term use.

Red ginseng is another that is commonly used in herbal tonics.

Conclusions on the Effects of Ginseng

●      Nourishes adrenal glands and reduces high cortisol levels

●      Regulates hormonal changes and stress to the immune system

●      Alleviates anxiety, depression, and panic disorders

●      Naturally calms the body, balances energy levels, and fights fatigue

●      Interacts well with certain medications such as heart disease and blood pressure medications

●      Antioxidant effects

●      Reduces blood sugar levels (stress-related / fasting)

●      Improves mood and mental performance

In summary, studies have produced positive results in the use of ginseng. Could be time to halt visits to the coffee shop and reach for a ginseng supplement instead!

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