Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Effects of Ginseng Supplementation on High-Intensity Exercise Performance and Short-Term Recovery

The herbal extract industry has been growing tremendously over the past years. Estimated annual sales are more than $3 Billion in the United States alone. Ginseng is one of the most popular herbal supplements used by many people to improve their training and athletic performance. Although the exact benefits of Ginseng are not completely understood, many people believe Ginseng to help enhance a person's capacity to adapt to stressful situations and help reduce fatigue. However, this has not been proven.

Purpose of the study: To examine the effects of Ginseng supplementation during high-intensity exercise and in the immediate recovery period after exercise.

The study: 24 healthy, active women participated in the study. 12 women were given a Ginseng supplement equivalent to 500 mg of Panax Ginseng C.A. Meyer (Chinese or Korean Ginseng) and 12 women were given a placebo. All of the women performed two short-term, high-intensity bicycle tests. One was at the beginning of the study and the other was after 8 weeks of using either the Ginseng supplement or the placebo. The results of the two tests and groups were then compared.

The results: The Ginseng supplementation had no effect on the peak anaerobic power, immediate postexercise recovery heart rate, or rate of fatigue in the group using the Ginseng supplementation. Both groups of women (those using Ginseng and those using the placebo) demonstrated the same responses to the variables tested.

The bottom line: This study found that long-term dietary supplementation with Ginseng in healthy, active women had no effect on standard physical performance characteristics underlying short-term, high-intensity exercise. Furthermore, Ginseng supplementation failed to improve immediate postexercise heart rate responses during the immediate recovery period. So if you are looking for Ginseng to help improve your training or athletic performance, Ginseng might not be effective as you previously thought.

Be aware that Ginseng is classified as a dietary supplement and not a medicinal drug in the United States, so manufacturers are not required by law to demonstrate its efficacy and safety for use. It has been shown that there is a lack of appropriate quality controls in the manufacture of some commercial Ginseng preparations. Always be careful when using dietary supplements. Talk to knowledgeable professionals and research the supplement before considering using any of them.

*The information for this section was provided by Hermann-J. Engels, et al., from the article entitled Effects of Ginseng Supplementation on Supramaximal Exercise Performance and Short-Term Recovery, from the National Strength and Conditioning Association, Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, Vol. 15, No. 3, 2001.

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