Shorter days and less sunlight have many people feeling like a 1% battery. Caffeine and sugar can give a mini boost but are often followed by a crash. Many people look to natural ingredients that seem to help us stay energized and buzzing along. Does ginseng boost energy?
Ginseng Root has been used for ages across Asian countries, especially South Korea, Japan, and China. Many Korean studies have been carried out to test the effectiveness of Panax Ginseng on reducing fatigue and boosting energy levels. In fact, lots of Korean energy drinks have ginseng as an active ingredient. Traditional Chinese Medicine recommends ginseng supplements for many medical conditions (some examples include multiple sclerosis, blood pressure, and helping the immune system).
Does Ginseng really give you Energy?
Anecdotally, there are hundreds of Korean and Chinese people who will tell you ginseng supplements have increased their mental performance, helped their mental functions, and they had significant improvement in their wellbeing. It is only relatively recently that randomized controlled trials have been carried out on this herbal supplement in research institutes in Korea. Researchers have looked at everything from how standard doses affect mental fatigue if there is any improvement in cancer prevention. At this time, there is no universally accepted conclusion on the overall efficacy of healthy adults. For now, ginseng extracts keep their mystery.
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. This information is gathered from reputable organizations around the world simply to inform.
A Research Study on Research Studies of Ginseng
In 2016, researchers at the National Cancer Centre in South Korea published a paper that analyzed the previous studies on ginseng’s effect on fatigue and athletic performance. They examined the study’s methodological quality, including the sample size, dosage amount, and controls. Interestingly, they noted where the study’s funding had come from (companies that manufacture ginseng goods or public institutions).
The researchers found that: “there was a significant efficacy of ginseng supplements on fatigue reduction…” This was based on the analysis of the studies and the randomly-controlled-trials that had been carried out as of 2016. They felt that more testing was needed to confirm this finding.
Exactly how ginseng has such a positive effect has not been clearly identified. One possibility is that ginseng was found to increase levels of dopamine and serotonin (among other chemicals) in the brain. Since ginseng seems to increase resistance to the stress of exercise while increasing or refreshing energy stores there is enough evidence to continue study on ginseng supplements on fatigue.
The studies analyzed included healthy people from Western and Asian nations taking different species of ginseng. The paper cited many clinical trials and performed a comprehensive literature search.
Efficacy of Ginseng in Cancer Patients
One study that was not included above was led by the American Mayo Clinic. Until this study, ginseng’s effects had not been tested extensively against the debilitating fatigue that occurs in up to 90 percent of cancer patients.
This was a small scale study following 360 cancer patients who reported fatigue symptoms. After taking baseline measurements for how tired the participants felt, the 2 groups started taking either a ginseng supplement or a placebo. A researcher commented that after 8 weeks those taking pure, ground American ginseng were “feeling less pooped, worn out, and sluggish.” When measured, the fatigue scores of those taking the supplements were 100% better than those taking the placebo on average.
The team also made an important note on the type of supplement: if it is processed with other chemicals(such as ethanol, commonly used in making extracts), it would not provide the same benefits and maybe even have negative side effects.
Does Ginseng Boost Energy?
Against a historical backdrop of anecdotal evidence and Traditional Medicine claims, modern-day clinical trials are slowly coming across the same results. Science still has much to learn about the biological mechanisms that can reduce fatigue and boost energy, but there is growing clinical evidence for the efficacy of ginseng.
Talk to your doctor to make sure ginseng doesn’t conflict with any existing medication or conditions.