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Ginseng improves exercise performance and helps body quickly recover

Ginseng, a supplement derived from plants and herbs, is celebrated globally for its myriad health benefits, including anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and potential anti-cancer properties. Recent research spearheaded by the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC) reveals an additional, compelling benefit: ginseng’s significant role in enhancing exercise recovery.

This new study uncovers ginseng’s direct impact on diminishing fatigue and aiding muscle recuperation post-exercise.

Ginseng can play a significant role as a nutritional supplement for recovery after exercise,” states Borja Muñoz, a fitness coach and lead author of the study.

Science behind ginseng and exercise

Under the guidance of Patricia Martínez, a dietician, nutritionist, and course instructor at UOC, alongside researchers Rafael Bailón and Laura Esquius, the team meticulously reviewed over 700 scientific articles to confirm these benefits for healthy adults engaging in physical activity.

“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, Muñoz explained.

“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.”

Ginseng’s impact on muscle recovery and fatigue

The research demonstrates that ginseng significantly reduces post-exercise muscle damage and enhances muscle regeneration, helping the body to recover from muscle fatigue and damage.

This is attributed to the active compounds in ginseng stimulating the central nervous system, possessing antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and regulating cortisol, thus improving metabolic functions and bolstering the immune system.

Long-term, systematic ginseng consumption has been shown to mitigate biological markers responsible for exercise-induced muscle damage and inflammation, such as creatine kinase (CK) and interleukin 6 (IL-6). It also reduces lactate production, which is linked to muscle fatigue.

By decreasing fatigue, ginseng potentially lowers the risk of injury, thereby enhancing athletic performance.

“Although recovery times vary based on the nature of the injury and between individuals, the damaged structures share the same physiological processes. That’s why professionals in this field must obtain the most efficient physiological context, to ensure that each person can recover as well and as quickly as possible. This is where ginseng comes in, as it can play a significant role in recovering from injuries,” said Muñoz about the possible benefits to athletes.

Tailoring ginseng intake for all types of exercise

The study originated from Muñoz’s observations during his tenure as a fitness coach and injury specialist at a football club in China, where ginseng was a popular supplement among players for its energy-boosting effects.

“Our aim was to learn more about the effects of ginseng in a specific situation, in this case in connection with exercise, and to provide verifiable evidence of its ability to improve the body’s response to the stimuli of chronic load in sport, helping athletes to recover between training sessions, as the footballers themselves reported that it worked just like an energy drink,” said Muñoz.

This research opens avenues for further investigation into ginseng’s role in enhancing sports performance and recovery.

Patricia Martínez points out the potential for future studies to establish a ginseng consumption protocol, optimizing its benefits for athletes.

“Of the possible future research we’re considering, a study to establish a scheduled consumption protocol to find out exactly how and when athletes should take ginseng to optimize its benefits within a given timeframe is particularly appealing, as the studies carried out in relation to these cases suffer from a lack of diversity and scientific evidence,” said Martínez.

Future of exercise: Ginseng as a dietary staple

In summary, ginseng emerges as a natural ally for athletes and fitness enthusiasts, offering significant benefits for exercise recovery and performance enhancement.

This research from the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya illuminates ginseng’s role in reducing post-exercise fatigue, accelerating muscle recovery, and potentially lowering injury risks.

“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,” concluded Muñoz.

By integrating ginseng into a balanced diet, individuals can tap into its powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, paving the way for improved physical endurance and health.

As the scientific community continues to explore ginseng’s full potential, this study marks a promising step towards understanding how natural supplements can optimize athletic performance and recovery processes.

The full study was published in the journal Nutrients.


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