In today’s competitive times, even a slight improvement in efficiency at work can help you hold your position or get a promotion. Ginseng, which is an ancient herbal medicine from the Far East, has been used to improve physical and mental performance. Now it has drawn much of the Western world’s attention. In advanced research, ginseng has been shown to be safe and useful to improve the functions of different body systems–save you at this game time.
Professor David Kennedy, director of Brain Performance and Nutrition Research Centre at Northumbia University, has worked with colleagues to test ginseng’s effects on mental function for the last ten years. Based on evidence from different types of studies, they can confidently say that ginseng has positive function on the brain.
One big discovery of their research is that ginseng helps you process numbers and words better. During an intensive math task in one study, study subjects who took ginseng used less time to finish and were 13% more accurate than those who take the placebo. Although computers and calculators are available in offices, you can work even faster on numbers or data with ginseng because in many cases you are more efficient at counting numbers in your head. As for verbal ability, researchers used a “working memory speed test” to assess subjects’ ability to remember and analyze verbal information. The outcome showed that both alphabet and word processing speed had been greatly improved; greater speed of these tasks helps people better process heavy and comprehensive mathematics and lingual works.
Another merit of ginseng is that it can help you focus better and respond faster. Recall that while you are working, it is so annoying to hear your colleagues chatting and gossiping in the office. Research has shown that subjects who took ginseng felt 10% more peace and responded 5-6% more rapidly to stimuli. When you are placid and efficient, you respond fast and precisely.
Why does ginseng have such effects on the brain? The answer is still not entirely clear. One possible explanation is that ginseng promotes mental transmission–it helps generate stronger brain signals and transport them more effectively. Another hypothesis is that ginseng can increase the uptake of blood sugar in human brain cells; when the brain has more energy to use, it can work better.
How can we take ginseng’s benefit?
One traditional and delicious way is making ginseng soup. Ancient Chinese people believed ginseng in hot soup is most effective for the body since its nutrients are entirely dissolved in the water. The best partner with ginseng is chicken. This following recipe is modified from a ready recipe of Ying Chang at Cooking Light:
5 sliced ginseng roots
2 pounds of skinless chicken breast
2 cups of fresh maize
2 sliced ginger
1/4 cup of medlar
4 cups of water
1/4 table spoon salt
1/2 teaspoon corn oil
Heat corn oil in a pot over medium heat. Add ginger, wait till it turns brown. Add chicken sauté 2 minutes. Add water into pot. Medium heat boils for 20 minutes. Add ginseng, medlar, and maize, simmer 40 minutes. Sprinkle with salt.
Well, suppose you don’t have such cooking time but still enjoy ginseng’s taste, ginseng tea will be a good option for you. Pour boiling water in a cup with a few (based on how strong the taste you like) ginseng slices and let steep for 5 minutes (longer time if you like stronger taste). You can also add other herbs such as chrysanthemum and medlar to the tea.
What if you don’t like ginseng’s taste but still want its benefits? Another solution is to use ginseng supplement, which you can get in drug store over the counter.
Though common adverse effects of taking ginseng are slight, including headache, nausea, and difficulty of falling asleep, it is wise to check with your doctor before taking any herb. Pregnant and lactating women and children are not recommended to take ginseng.