Study: Ginseng could change your workout forever

Febraury 26, 2024

A popular nutritional supplement enhances athletic recovery and performance, a new study finds. The research, conducted by Spanish academics, has found that ginseng not only aids in the body’s recovery after exercising, but also boosts performance and reduces the risk of injuries, reports Study Finds.

Ginseng is a slow-growing perennial plant with fleshy roots, belonging to the genus Panax in the family, Araliaceae. There are several varieties of ginseng, with the most commonly known types being Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng), American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius), and Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus)—each having different uses and effects.

The active compounds within ginseng act on the central nervous system, combat oxidative stress, reduce inflammation, and regulate cortisol levels. This regulation is essential for metabolic functions and maintaining a healthy immune system.

“We’ve found that ginseng can play a significant role … when it comes to recovering after exercise,” says study author Borja Muñoz, a fitness coach at the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC) in Barcelona.

the guidance of Patricia Martínez, a dietician, nutritionist, and course instructor at UOC, the team highlighted ginseng’s direct impact on diminishing fatigue and facilitating muscle recovery after playing sports.

The analysis concluded that regular consumption of ginseng significantly reduces post-exercise muscle damage in healthy adults. It aids in muscle regeneration, mitigates muscle fatigue, and addresses exercise-induced muscle damage through its unique properties.

One notable finding was ginseng’s ability to decrease levels of biological markers like creatine kinase (CK) and interleukin-6 (IL-6), which are indicative of muscle damage and inflammation. Additionally, ginseng helps reduce the accumulation of lactate in the blood, a common cause of muscle fatigue during intense physical exertion.

“When taken together with a balanced diet, ginseng can provide additional nutrition for athletes or anyone else who does physical exercise on a regular basis,” explains Muñoz. “It’s also worth noting that, unless it’s medically contraindicated in any given case, taking ginseng on a regular basis is considered beneficial (or at least not harmful) for healthy people.”

The inception of this study was sparked by Muñoz’s observations during his tenure as a fitness coach and injury specialist with a football club in China, where ginseng is a staple in traditional Chinese medicine. Soccer players reported notable benefits from ginseng consumption, likening its effects to those of an energy drink.

This pioneering research opens the door for further investigation into ginseng’s potential in sports performance and injury prevention. Researchers advocate for the development of a scheduled consumption protocol to maximize ginseng’s benefits.

“There’s still a significant amount of work to do, as ginseng has potential to increase athletes’ physical performance and help prevent certain injuries, particularly muscle injuries,” concludes Muñoz.

The study is published in the journal, Nutrients.

Research contact: @StudyFinds