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How Ginseng Works - American Ginseng as an Antioxidant


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Among its many medicinal properties, American ginseng is a powerful antioxidant. According to the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Centre on Aging, American ginseng has a higher oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) than either Korean or Siberian ginseng.

Ginseng - Antioxidant

What is this important?

Let's go back to a little element that's a double edged sword - oxygen. Without it there'd be no life. However in the very process of living, oxygen binds itself onto other molecules in our body. With a reactive oxygen ion hanging off them, many of these molecules become what are called free radicals. These can do lots of damage to our body including making us prone to diseases such as cancer, atherosclerosis, and Alzheimer's. Put simply, antioxidants such as ginseng neutralise free radicals and help protect our body.

But it gets messy. Our body is incredibly complex, and the more research is done the more we appreciate the many interacting things going on. After all we evolved in a complex world to function in a balanced way, as a whole.

Of course our own bodies know about free radicals, and even use some of them in sending messages around the body or helping the immune system. Did you know most blue-eyed cats are deaf? It's because their nerves haven't developed normally due to lack of melanin, a stable free radical.

Our bodies also know the harm free radicals can do so makes a range of antioxidants itself. Such as uric acid (but too much and you'll get gout!), vitamins C and E, glutathione and melatonin. And it makes slightly different varieties of many of them, each serving a particular purpose in the body.

Should I take antioxidant supplements?

Yes but don't overdo it and make sure they are natural. Natural ones are more likely to be used in the complex biochemical systems in our body. You can get these in foods such as fresh fruit and vegetables (especially ones with dark colours) or natural herbs such as ginseng and echinacea. People who eat more fruit and vegetables are less likely to get problems such as heart disease, some cancers, and some neurological diseases. But taking antioxidants by themselves doesn't seem to work. Benefits from fruit and vegetables (and ginseng too for that matter) seem to come from a complex range of things.

Moderate physical exercise

The body make lots of free radicals during exercise. But it makes even more natural antioxidants straight after exercise, and the best kind too. Mostly two to seven days afterwards to mop up the damage. But be careful - if you overdo antioxidant supplements this natural process might not work properly.

Ginseng as an Antioxidant

American ginseng's antioxidant properties come mainly from its high oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC). The saponins Rb1 and Rb2 appear to be responsible - both found in abundance in the root of American ginseng. These molecules have ring-like phenolic structures, like substances in ginkgo biloba, echinacea, green tea, rosemary and lavender. The University of South Carolina found that American ginseng can help protect heart cells from oxidative stress by dramatically boosting the activity of the Nrf2 protein pathway.

Should I take American ginseng for its antioxidant properties?

If all you want is antioxidants, it's "better bang for your buck" to spend your money on fresh fruit and vegetables. As well as being cheap, they've got the complex range of antioxidants you need in your diet. But why would you be only interested in antioxidants? They are just one stepping stone to good health. Others are dietary fibre, physical and mental exercise, resisting stress, getting enough sleep and many others. Doesn't it make sense to work on all of these in a balanced way, just as your body needs?

This is where ginseng comes in. It helps several body systems - immunity, memory, energy levels, heart and blood vessels, and even helps lower stress and blood glucose. Its valuable antioxidant activity is really just a bonus. The way to a long and healthy life is to combine a healthy diet and lifestyle with daily American ginseng!

Please note:
Any scientific information has been assembled by Simply Ginseng from reputable peer-reviewed scientific journals. We have tried to ensure it is clear, balanced and without bias. This information should not be construed as claims for any of our products. Always consult your health care professional.Use only as directed. Always read the label.
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