Studies have demonstrated several benefits of regular ginseng consumption,
including increased energy, stress resistance, and libido. And there is
significant scientific support for using ginseng to counter fatigue, improve
concentration, and aid recovery from an illness or surgery. However, ginseng has
not been proven effective for bolstering the immune system. At least, not
In a recent animal study, ginseng appeared to stimulate the function of
certain immune cells to help clear bacterial infection. In another human study,
those receiving daily ginseng supplements prior to flu vaccination were less
likely to contract the flu than those in the control group, who were
administered placebos in addition to the vaccine.
While ginseng has many beneficial uses, right now there's not enough science
to back up using ginseng as an immune booster. While new evidence is being
sought, help strengthen your immune system and reduce your chance of getting an
infection by eating healthy (get lots of fruits, vegetables, and fiber),
practicing relaxation techniques to reduce stress (your body is more vulnerable
to disease when its under duress), and fighting off colds and flu with the
proven immune boosting herbal medicine echinacea.
Immune system: Numerous body parts (for example, white blood cells,
bone marrow, the spleen) that work together to destroy germs that have invaded
your body and threatened your health.
Libido: sexual drive
Placebo: An inactive compound identical in appearance to a substance
being tested for effectiveness. In experimental studies, placebos are
administered to one group of people and the substance being tested to another in
an attempt to determine whether the recipients are responding to the activity of
the substance being tested or only to the suggested benefits of the substance.
Persons receiving placebos do not know that they are receiving a placebo instead
of the drug.
All About Ginseng (Frequently Asked Questions) by Stephen Fulder
(Avery Publishing Group, 1999)
The 10 Best Tools to Boost Your Immune System by Elinor Levy and Tom
Monte (Houghton Mifflin, 1997)
Fortify Your Immune System Naturally by Kari Koster-Loesche (Sterling
Ask Dr. Weil web site. "Which ginseng is genuine?" and "Immunity." Available
at www.pathfinder.com/drweil. Accessed November 22, 1999.
Blumenthal M, ed. The Complete German Commission E
Monographs—Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines.
Austin, TX: The American Botanical Council and Boston, MA; Integrative Medicine
Communications; 1998: 138-139.
Integrative Medicine Access: Professional Reference to Conditions, Herbs
& Supplements. Newton, Mass: Integrative Medicine Communications;
Scaglione F, Cattaneo G, Alessandria M, Cogo R. Efficacy and safety of the
standardised Gingseng extract G115 for potentiating vaccination against the
influenza syndrome and protection against the common cold. Drugs Exp Clin
Song ZJ. Ginseng treatment improved the ability of phagocytes in blood and
lungs to capture and kill bacteria. Presented at the 99th General
Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology; June 1, 1999;
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