American ginseng is often used for it’s rejuvenating properties. It is believed to act as an adaptogen, aiding the body in adapting to stress. Adaptogens are often thought to improve endurance performance, but a study published in the World Journal of Gastroenterology might have found otherwise for American ginseng.
The study included 13 college students, all physically active. The subjects consumed either American ginseng or a placebo supplement for 4 weeks. Before and after the 4 weeks of supplementation, the subjects performed a treadmill running test at about 80% of their VO2max. Subjects then ceased supplementation for 4 weeks, and then she groups switched the supplement that they were consuming and the process was repeated.
It was found that American ginseng had no effect on running performance over a variety of parameters, but it did decrease plasma creatine kinase, an indicator of muscle tissue damage. The decrease in plasma creatine kinase levels were likely due to the supplement reducing muscle damage, so it may have some benefit in terms of actual tissue recovery. American ginseng did not, however, improve endurance performance in any way.
Hsu CC, Ho MC, Lin LC, Su B, & Hsu MC. (2005). American ginseng supplementation attenuates creatine kinase level induced by submaximal exercise in human beings. World Journal of Gastroenterology : WJG. 11(34), 5327-31.
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