When it comes to natural remedies with a number of healing properties, why not turn to the plant that’s literally been called a “cure-all” for centuries? You might’ve heard of it in tea blends, but here’s what you need to know about ginseng and its wide array of purported health benefits.
What is ginseng?
Ginseng is a plant that has been used to promote overall well-being for hundreds of years. While it was originally popular in East Asia, it started to see an uptick in traction in the United States during the 1800s as Americans began importing it from abroad.
There are roughly a dozen types of ginseng plants, some of which, like red Korean ginseng and American ginseng, are more popular for health products. It takes roughly four to five years for the plant to grow into a form that can be harvested and used as a supplement, making it a hot commodity.
What are the health benefits of ginseng?
Research has long lauded ginseng for its powerful anti-inflammatory properties and ability to help fight tiredness and fatigue. Ginseng has also been shown to help manage blood sugar levels in people who have diabetes and those who don’t by boosting insulin production and helping blood sugar get absorbed into the body’s tissues. Not to mention, it’s also been linked to better cognitive function and a stronger immune system.
On top of all of those incredible benefits, additional studies show that it may also aid in reducing the risk of cancers, like stomach, colon, liver, and lung cancer. Not to mention, one review of several studies found that people who made it part of their regular regimen slashed their overall cancer risk by 16 percent.
What are the side effects?
Side effects of ginseng are generally mild, like insomnia, headaches, or dizziness, and they largely depend on dosage. (Research has found that it’s perfectly safe to take 200 to 400 milligrams per day.) Some menstrual irregularities have been reported, but again, that depends on factors like the dose amount, the period of time taking it, and other existing health conditions.
What’s the best way to take it?
When it comes to any supplement, it’s crucial to talk to your doctor beforehand to make sure it can work for you and not produce some of those negative side effects. Health experts recommend that people on diabetes medication and anti-depressants stay away from ginseng, and currently researchers say to not take ginseng supplements for more than a few weeks or three months max at a time.
Ginseng supplements can come in many forms, including capsule (Buy on Amazon, $7.37), powder (Buy on Amazon, $26.95), and liquid (Buy on Amazon, $20.89) depending on how you want to incorporate it into your regimen.
As you’re looking at products, it’s also important to note that because it takes a long time to manufacture ginseng, it’s crucial to buy it from a reputable brand — even if it’s at a higher price point for the number of capsules or powder you receive — to make sure the company isn’t skimping on quality. Some cheaper brands may look enticing, but often that lower price tag means that it may be diluted with other ingredients.
If you want another option for adding ginseng to your diet, you can purchase ginseng root yourself at your local grocery store and add it to your cooking. You’ll instantly warm yourself up by including it in an easy-to-brew tea or traditional ginseng chicken soup. Yum!
This article originally appeared on our sister site, First for Women.