When flu season is upon us, ginseng is a wonderful supplement to try. It can play a positive role in providing protective effects on the body. Instead of using medicines to stem cold symptoms, this superior plant herb can be taken regularly to protect the body against flu and other respiratory diseases.
What is Influenza?
Influenza is a virus that can cause mild to severe illness and even death. It usually affects the nose and throat and, in more serious cases, the lungs. If you have been unlucky enough to have caught the flu virus you will know just how terrible it makes you feel.
While difficult to treat lung and breathing issues at the source it has been shown that ginseng can help with preventing influenza and other respiratory issues. This is supported through numerous studies and one to mention briefly is that of the work of a scientist at Georgia State University’s new Institute for Biomedical Sciences, US. Testing was carried out using ginseng against flu as well as RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus) which infects the breathing passages and the lungs. This is just one study, we’ll mention in more detail some others later.
Is it Serious?
As influenza can be widespread it can cause annual epidemics worldwide and new strains are hard to detect and unpredictable (think Swine Flu in 2009). According to the WHO (World Health Organisation) severe flu-related illness can cause untold deaths per year. Because research results have shown ginseng can be used as a natural alternative, and as an addition to, over-the-counter medicines, we looked a little further.
The Science Bit – The Adaptogen ‘Ginseng’
Natural substances that the body can safely use to aid, prevent, or protect against illness are called adaptogens. We cover that fact lots when we talk about ginseng but that’s because it’s the most widely-known and most potent adaptogen.
Plenty of us use this ‘super’ herb in order to counteract symptoms that the body is struggling to cope with. When the body is under stress, either physically or psychologically, plenty of us opt for medicines as a quick fix. Many of us aren’t aware of the abilities of natural herbs and their preventative abilities. So, in these modern days where the focus is on ‘plant’ based and being virus conscious, considering ginseng is a great idea and makes a huge difference on health and wellbeing.
Science weighs in on Ginseng vrs the Flu
In a brief science summary, the following may help us to realise both how simple testing can be , yet how important its results are:
Previous clinical studies have demonstrated ginseng’s beneficial effects. A group of 18 to 65-year-olds who had a history of cold symptoms in the year prior to one of the studies were given ginseng extract two times a day. The mean number of colds contracted following the study was significantly reduced.
In the same study groups, older patients were given ginseng on top of influenza virus protection and compared to those given virus protection only. This produced great results showing that the adults introduced to ginseng contracted lower levels of influenza-like symptoms when compared to those not taking ginseng.
In healthy patients tested, when taken as a preventative herbal remedy for 8 to 16 weeks, a reduced duration of the symptoms of cold-like illnesses were recorded.
Why Consider Ginseng as a Herbal Supplement
As a seasonal disease in today’s world, influenza and respiratory disease can be serious and sometimes fatal. In the most recent global flu pandemic in 2009 there were record numbers of deaths recorded in the first year alone.
Because it spreads quickly, outbreaks are unpredictable and new strains of the influenza virus are creeping in every year. This is a good reason for the flu vaccine being available annually in the UK. However, the problems with introducing new vaccines each year and lack of protection from pandemic strains are a serious issue. Being unable to predict any strains that may cause a pandemic is a major concern.
Another thing to mention is that RSV as we mentioned, can cause severe inflammatory bronchiolitis pneumonia and viral death in infants and vulnerable adults. RSV has no vaccine which means to many of us that natural supplements that are proven to treat and protect the body are certainly worth considering.
With this in mind, we take supplements to assist with the body’s own processes. Although it is unusual for us to rely solely on a herbal remedy, this has changed rapidly over the years. These days, many of us depend on natural treatments like ginseng which have been shown to treat, prevent and protect.
Ginseng is a popular choice for those of us unwilling to be treated only in a medical way. It does interact very well with certain medications that can’t be avoided too.
It works to treat a range of symptoms not limited to influenza virus or RSV. It is used as a herbal alternative to issues concerning depression, anxiety, blood pressure, cognition and other physical and mental problems. All in all ginseng is a great choice and its plant root is used in ready-made tonics, tablets, and supplied as a root which can be infused to make tea.
In summary, with numerous studies having been conducted over many years, impressive results have been recorded.
If you aim to protect your body and prevent influenza or RSV infections, you could consider ginseng as a ‘super supplement’.