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How American Ginseng Helps Prevent Colds and Flu

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You can help strengthen your immune system and prevent colds and flu by simple everyday things - such a washing your hands often, eating well and taking regular exercise. But natural supplements? We thought for a while that vitamin C was the answer, but a study of 400 healthy volunteers in Canberra put paid to that.

So back to hot lemon tea and panadol? Absolutely not - look for yourself how quality American ginseng can also help.

What is our Immune System?

It's a complex army of warriors and messengers that works together across many levels in the body. It's made up of big things such as tonsils, thyroid and lymph glands, bone marrow, appendix and spleen, and tiny things such as white blood cells and the antibodies and other chemicals they produce. Together they're an orchestra - with you as the conductor - that helps keep you strong and healthy.

How does Ginseng work?

Ginseng might be one of the oldest medicines of all, but scientific investigation is relatively modern - most of it is in the last 20 years. It's found that the root of American ginseng contains over 30 different substances called saponins, and other things such as polysaccharides. These have remarkable pharmaceutical benefits on many parts of the body.

The first serious trials on the immune system were done at the University of California and published in the International Journal of Immunotherapy in 1998. They studied the effects of extracts of Korean, American and Siberian ginseng on 20 healthy volunteers. American ginseng significantly stimulated the proliferation of lymphocytes (part of the white blood cell platoon), and Siberian ginseng was almost as effective. Korean ginseng came a distant last.

These results spurred along scientific interest and a number of trials followed. Finding that Native Americans used ginseng for centuries to relieve fevers, scientists at the University of Ottawa studied cell cultures of alveolar (lung) macrophages. Macrophages are the “vacuum cleaners” of the immune system that mop up invaders before they can do damage. They found that American ginseng stimulated the alveolar macrophages - our first line of defence against influenza viruses - and the most active part of ginseng seemed to be the polysaccharide fraction.

Large scientific trials to test American ginseng in people

Ginseng - a future in vaccines?

Not content with testing ginseng supplements, some researchers had the originality to test American ginseng in vaccines. Things added to vaccines to make them induce a better immune response are called adjuvants - and most vaccines have them. The Swedes tested pig and cattle vaccines and the Chinese a chicken one. All found that the ginseng saponin fraction (Rb1 in the pig and cattle research) produced a significantly better immune response. At the University of Ottawa, even feeding a low dose of American ginseng to horses produced a significantly better response to vaccinations. Maybe animals will soon be competing with people for ginseng!

Our immune system also helps protect us from cancer, and scientific work is also underway on the anti-cancer properties of ginseng. Those tiny unstable oxygen molecules (called free radicals) that do irreparable damage to our DNA are mopped up by our incredible immune system. And stress? That's another inter-related story - see the section on stress on this website.

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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