Winter Season Battle – Ginseng Vrs The Flu

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.

Protect and Prevent: Might be a good time to do away with relying on one-off pharmaceutical products as treatment and opting for regular ginseng intake instead!

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’.

Using Ginseng To Boost Energy Levels

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.