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The Amazing Health Benefits of Korean Ginseng

Posted by Geoff Beaty on 9 April 2022
The Amazing Health Benefits of Korean Ginseng
Korean ginseng’s genus name, Panax, is derived from the Latin panacea meaning “cure all”. Traditional Chinese medicine textbooks describe near-mythical qualities for the human shaped root (the word ginseng is derived from the Chinese word for person) such as restoring balance to one’s life force and increasing longevity. In the East, where it is considered to be the most important of all medicinal herbs, wild mountain ginseng was a revered plant (it is now almost extinct), a treasure beyond price, surrounded by many stories of magical lore. The late herbalist extraordinaire Dorothy Hall’s personal opinion was that “all the multitudinous body effects attributed to the use of [Korean] ginseng are directly attributable to its effect on the two principal hormone-regulators of the body – the thyroid and pituitary systems…Is it just a giant Oriental placebo con-game, or does its reputation rest on real results? Before you decide, read up on just how many body systems and functions are dependent on healthy, strongly active pituitary and thyroid glands.”

While today's, mostly cultivated, Korean ginseng is not a miracle herb it is clearly an important remedy with an ancient history of improving health. Herbalists classify Korean ginseng as an adaptogen indicating a wide range of therapeutic uses. Ways in which Korean ginseng restores and enhances wellbeing include boosting energy, lowering blood sugar and cholesterol levels, reducing stress, improving thinking processes and cognition, treating diabetes and managing sexual dysfunction in men. Western herbalists understand Korean ginseng to be useful for short-term treatment of the effects, or anticipated effects, of stress (a ginseng “hit”) and over a longer period (for up to three months – a repeated course is feasible) to reduce the impact of the ageing process.

Recent human clinical research provides scientific evidence to back up some of the claims made for this multi-purpose plant. A systemic review, published in February this year (2022), found evidence from two studies which suggest Korean ginseng is an effective and safe treatment option for patients suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome, a complex and debilitating condition. The researchers concluded that more rigorous studies are required to provide further evidence. Another recent study on 60 people with hay fever found that treatment with Korean ginseng, for four weeks, was similar to an antihistamine in terms of improving runny nose, nasal and eye itching and sleep disturbance in patients.

Written by
Christine Thomas Herbalist and Technical Writer April 2022
Author:Geoff Beaty
Tags:Prevention & RecoveryEvidence Based ResearchHerbal MedicineFatigue

Associations

  • The Institute for Functional Medicine
  • Society for Integrative Oncology
  • American Society of Clinical Oncology
  • Australian Traditional-Medicine Society
  • Naturopaths and Herbalists Association of Australia