Cold and flu season has arrived with extra concerns this pandemic fall. Many people are seeking any boost they can get for their immune system, but before you reach for the Cold-FX, can panax ginseng boost your immune system?
Note: information here does not replace the expertise of your doctor. Consult with a professional before taking any supplements, especially if you have chronic underlying conditions (especially diabetes). This evidence is gathered from reputable organizations around the world simply to inform.
Ginseng: The Natural Killer
The use of herbs and botanicals as alternative remedy to conventional therapy has attracted health professionals especially where immune system is partially compromised or selective immune therapy is required with the objective of minimizing the adverse events.
Perhaps more anecdotally, ginseng reduces symptom severity. Often ginseng is taken in soup or teas with other “cold-killing” ingredients, think chicken soup or a hot toddy. But in blind trials, albeit small, ginseng was shown to have an increased effect on the general well-being and comfort of people getting over a cold or flu. The effects were measured by surveys and tracked over 8 weeks. The response from those taking a ginseng supplement showed a definite benefit but more studies can be done to prove this beyond a doubt. It shouldn’t be too hard to find participants with colds who would welcome some hot ginseng tea!
Many companies hawk their cold medicine as the best on the market, but no one claims to have a cure. Ginseng can’t cure your cold, but it acts in many of the same ways as the big-name cold drugs by reducing inflammation and boosting immune response as a natural killer.
Ginseng consumption seems to work especially well with vitamin C as the active component ginsenosides complement the antioxidant properties of the vitamin.
How Ginseng Improves Immunity
Specifically, Korean research has shown that ginseng extracts boost T-cell production and helps to activate phagocytes. T-Cells do the job of killing infected cells but they do much to regulate the immune response by activating other immune cells and producing cytokines. Phagocytes work alongside, identifying bacteria, dead cells, and other foreign substances that don’t belong in our bodies and, essentially, eating them.
As immunity builds, it is less likely to get sick to the same infection; of course, in this year 2020, a best practice would be to give our bodies every help we can. American ginseng, vitamin C, Echinacea, and mom’s chicken soup all keep the hard-working cells in our blood at their optimum performance.
While many of the articles cited studies that were done with Korean ginseng and using proprietary extracts, the base chemicals from this plant play the same roles in herbal medicine. It is not unusual to find Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners to be fans of a specific strain of ginseng, Korean, American or even Siberian.
Bring it on, Cold Season
The evidence for the beneficial effects of ginseng is growing daily with many new studies and research under way. No drugs or medicinal herbs can bring true immunity, but we can use all the help we can get.
In review, a healthy lifestyle with moderate exercise and good diet is the best defense against colds, but ginseng for cold symptoms treatment makes getting over getting sick easier!
Stay extra healthy and comfy this winter with a hot ginseng tea!!