According to researchers at the University of Western Ontario and the University of Alberta, ginseng supplements may help the immune system to fight off colds. Researchers found that when people who usually suffered colds took a standardized extract of the roots of North American ginseng, they had significantly less colds than a placebo group, and less severe symptoms.
The new randomized, double-blind study followed 170 people aged between 18–65 years of age with a history of at least two colds in the previous year. They were instructed to take two capsules per day of either ginseng or a placebo for four months, beginning at the start of the flu season.
Only 10 per cent of the ginseng group had two or more colds during the test period compared with 22.8 per cent in the placebo group.
While it has previously been shown that extracts of the root of North American ginseng (Panax quinquefolium) have the potential to modulate both natural and acquired immune responses, as well as fighting colds and flu, many of these studies have been criticized for poor quality.
While this latest study shows promising results, the authors say the supplement could be a safe and effective treatment and recommended further studies on its efficacy and safety for children and immunocompromised populations (such as the elderly).
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