Here’s another natural supplement that can help keep you safe from colds this winter. Canadian researchers found that taking ginseng daily helped participants cut their risk of colds by less than half. What’s better, those who did catch colds while taking ginseng reported milder symptoms and shorter duration of illness.
The peer-reviewed study, published in Canadian Medical Association Journal, found that taking 400 mg. of ginseng daily made dramatic differences in susceptibility to colds and how well participants got over them. Participants were given capsules of North American ginseng or placebos, which were standardized to have 200 milligrams of freeze-dried ginseng extract per capsule. They were told to take two pills daily for four months during the flu season and to rate their cold symptoms on a four-point scale each evening. Neither the participants or the researchers knowing which participants were taking the real ginseng.
The ginseng group reported fewer, milder and shorter colds, with fewer symptoms. Of the group that received ginseng, 10% people reported having two or more colds that winter, compared with about 23% of those taking the placebo. In addition, colds lasted about 11 days for the ginseng group and 16.5 days for the placebo group. The total symptom scores of participants in the ginseng group was an average of 77.5, compared to 112.3 for the placebo group.
Ginseng has a long history of being used to guard against colds and flus. The Pacific College of Oriental Medicine reports:
Ginseng improves stamina and stress resistance. Often called an adaptogen, it helps the body adapt to prevailing stressful situations…
Chinese healers most often use ginseng to reinforce qi, enhance memory and stave off cold and flu. Chinese athletes feel it gives them an added competitive edge. Many take it as a stimulant or tonic to increase energy and stamina. Ginseng has been a part of Chinese medicine records for 2000 years and was commonly used by the elderly to improve mental and physical vitality.
The University of Maryland Medical Center has more information about ginseng’s uses. They report that ginseng has shown promise in studies as a treatment for diabetes, cancer, colds, immune system enhancement and others. This excellent site also contains much information about dosage, contraindications and other important information.
The researchers cautioned that further studies are required to assess ginseng’s efficacy and safety for children and immunocompromised populations. It’s important to note that the study was funded by a manufacturer of ginseng supplements. However, the Canadian Medical Association Journal stated that the company had no role it the trial’s design or execution.
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