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  • There are three different herbs commonly called Ginseng: Asian or Korean ginseng (Panax ginseng), American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius), and Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus). The latter herb is actually not ginseng at all, but the Russian scientists responsible for promoting it believe it functions identically.

    Common uses for ginseng are for cognitive disorder (antiaging effect), diabetes and cancer.

    Asian ginseng is a perennial herb with a taproot resembling the human body. It grows in northern China, Korea, and Russia; its close relative, Panax quinquefolius, is cultivated in the United States. Because ginseng must be grown for five years before it is harvested, it commands a high price, with top-quality roots easily selling for more than $10,000.

    Dried, unprocessed ginseng root is called "white ginseng," and steamed, heat-dried root is called "red ginseng." Chinese herbalists believe each form has its own particular benefits.

    Ginseng contains many chemicals, the most important of which are triterpenoids called ginsenosides. Different species of ginseng contain different concentrations of the various classes of ginsenosides.

    Therapeutic Uses
    Ginseng can elevate blood pressure. It has also been shown to decrease exhaustion (fatigue) by stimulating the central nervous system and by sparing glycogen use in exercising muscles. Ginseng is also well known for its use in the treatment of diabetes. It will decrease blood sugar in diabetic (but not normoglycemic) mice. In non-diabetics, ginseng increases blood cortisol, but it reduces serum cortisol levels in diabetics. In vitro, ginseng has been shown to increase the lifespan of cells (anti-aging effect).

    Ginseng can reduce blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Regular intake of ginseng may protect against cancer formation; the extract and powder in people was shown more effective than the tea, juice, or fresh sliced ginseng. Ginseng also stimulates the immune system by enhancing white blood cell and antibody functions. It should not be used in high doses during acute infections as it may inhibit some immune functions.

    Dosage in people varies based upon ginsenoside content. In general, tonic effects are seen when the product contains at least 10 mg of ginsenoside Rg1 to Rb1 of 1:2.

    For people, the typical recommended daily dosage of Panax ginseng is 1 to 2 g of raw herb, or 200mg daily of an extract standardized to contain 4–7 percent ginsenosides. Eleutherococcus senticosus is taken at a dosage of 2 to 3 g whole herb or 300 to 400 mg of extract daily. Ordinarily, a two to three week period of using ginseng is recommended, followed by a one to two week 'rest' period. Russian tradition suggests those under 40 should not use ginseng. Finally, because Panax ginseng is so expensive, some products actually contain very little. Adulteration with other herbs and even caffeine is not unusual.

    Scientific Evidence
    Taken together, the scientific record on ginseng is intriguing but not conclusive. Most studies used injectable ginseng in animals and non-double-blind studies in people. If some of the money spent on animal and non-double-blind studies had been used to fund more double-blind studies in humans, we might know more. At the present it is hard to know whether ginseng is as effective as its mystique would make it seem.

    Safety Issues
    Ginseng should not be used in pets with hypertension (hyperthyroidism in cats, kidney disease in dogs and cats, cardiomyopathy). Do not use in pets with bleeding or pets with anxiety, hyperactivity or nervousness. Do not use in pets taking hypoglycemic medications without veterinary supervision. Because patients vary in their response to ginseng, because various species of plants exist with various quantities of ginsenosides, and because of variation in quality control among supplements, long-term ingestion should be avoided and veterinary advice sought when using ginseng.

    Ginseng may increase levels of digitalis drugs. Siberian ginseng appears to have greater safety due to standardized extracts (typically a 33 percent ethanol extract, standardized to five percent ginsenosides). It is reported to have antioxidant activity, lowers high blood pressure but raises low blood pressure (an adaptogen effect), dilates coronary arteries, and exhibits a mild diuretic effect. Side effects are rare unless high does are used. Follow the guidelines for Panax ginseng.

    In people, unconfirmed reports suggest highly excessive doses of ginseng can raise blood pressure, increase heart rate, and possibly cause other significant effects. Whether some of these cases were actually caused by caffeine mixed in with ginseng remains unclear. Ginseng allergy can also occur, as can allergy to any other substance. There is some evidence ginseng can interfere with drug metabolism, specifically drugs processed by an enzyme called "CYP 3A4." There have also been specific reports of ginseng interacting with MAO inhibitor drugs and also digitalis, although again it is not clear whether it was the ginseng or a contaminant that caused the problem. There has also been one report of ginseng reducing the anticoagulant effects of Coumadin.

    Safety in young children, pregnant or nursing women, or those with severe liver or kidney disease has not been established. Similar precautions are probably warranted in pets.

  • As we grow older, we may grow wiser, but we can also experience age-related memory impairment (ARMI). ARMI is relatively common1 and should not be confused with Alzheimer’s or other dementia, while ARMI is simply mild memory problems associated with normal aging (e.g. “Where did I put my keys?”). Even so, the memory loss and cognitive slowing associated with ARMI can interfere with our daily routines.2 In fact, according to a national survey, worries over retaining mental sharpness with age was the number two health concern among consumers (second only to worries about continuing with normal activities with age).3

    So what can we do to help maintain mental sharpness with aging? Aside from eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise (which is good advice for everybody in all age groups), there are some very specific nutraceuticals (i.e. vitamins, herbs, amino acids), which have been shown to be effective for just this purpose. These include Bacopa monnieri leaf extract, Panax ginseng root extract, Rhodiola rosea root extract, natural caffeine and L-theanine, folic acid and vitamin B12.

    Bacopa monnieri leaf extract
    The leaves of the Bacopa monnieri plant have been used for centuries in the traditional East Indian system of healthcare (i.e. Ayurveda) for purposes of promoting “healthy longevity, and strengthening life, brain, and mind.”4 While that is certainly impressive, it is even more impressive that several modern, human clinical studies have been conducted showing that supplementation with Bacopa helped:

    • Improve occasional, age-related absentmindedness.
    • Promote a healthy memory.
    • Improve some measures of delayed recall.
    • Promote cognitive function.
    Percentage Increase in Total Memory Score

    Most of these studies5,6,7,8,9,10,11 found that daily supplementation with 300 mg of Bacopa monnieri leaf extract (standardized for 50 percent total bacosides), provided significant benefits by week 12—although progressive benefits in Total Memory Score were also seen during week four and eight as well.12

    It should also be noted that these studies were conducted in men and women who were at least 40 years old, and in most cases more than 55 years old. That means that you’re more likely to experience similar benefits if you’re middle-aged and older, rather than if you’re in your 20s or 30s.

    If you’re wondering how Bacopa works, research13 suggests that it helps to maintain healthy levels of acetylcholine, a compound your body makes that works in your brain to help facilitate memory, learning ability and cognitive performance.

    Panax ginseng root extract
    Panax ginseng root, or ginseng for short, is a traditional Chinese herb, which has been used for thousands of years for various aspects of healthcare. It is also one of the most widely-researched herbs in modern science with over 5,000 published studies. Ginseng belongs to a category of herbs known as adaptogens. Adaptogens are herbs that help stabilize physiological processes and promote homeostasis (i.e. stable, healthy functioning of the body), especially in the case of stress and fatigue. This property was seen in two human clinical studies14,15 examining the effects of ginseng on mental performance. The results demonstrated that 200 mg of ginseng root extract daily:

    • Improved speed of mental performance within 60 minutes.
    • Enhance performance of mental arithmetic within 60 minutes.
    • Reduce feelings of mental fatigue within 60 minutes.
    • Quickly reduced feelings of mental fatigue during sustained mental activity.
    • Quickly improved some measures of mental performance.

    While many nutraceuticals may take weeks to work, these studies found that ginseng root extract provided beneficial results in as little as 60 minutes.

    Rhodiola rosea root extract
    Like ginseng, Rhodiola rosea root is an adaptogen. This plant has been used for centuries in the traditional systems of healthcare throughout Russia, Scandinavia, and other countries where it was used to increase physical endurance, work productivity, longevity, and to treat fatigue, mood and promote a healthy nervous system.16 Currently, there are over 500 studies on Rhodiola demonstrating the value of this plant. The reason for its inclusion in Ageless Memory is that human clinical research17,18,19 shows that supplementation with Rhodiola:

    • Improved capacity for mental work during stress.
    • Supports healthy cognitive function during stress.
    • Reduced fatigue during stress.

    These benefits were seen when 370 mg of Rhodiola root extract was used daily, and when it was standardized for 3 percent salidroside and 1 percent rosavins—key compounds in Rhodiola. This standardization is particularly important since most Rhodiola extracts have the opposite standardization: 1 percent salidroside and 3 percent rosavins. Consequently, products with this opposite standardization are not providing the correct balance of Rhodiola compounds used in these cited studies.

    Natural Caffeine and L-Theanine
    Black tea leaf extract provides natural caffeine as well as the amino acid L-theanine. This is an important distinction because not all sources of caffeine are natural, and not all sources provide L-theanine as well. Consider that if you buy one of those popular energy shots that are supposed to last a few hours, they contain caffeine anhydrous. That’s a synthetic form of caffeine. And while coffee certainly contains natural caffeine, we all know about the jittery effect on your nerves if you get too much—and some of the freshly brewed coffee you get from popular coffee houses can contain hundreds of milligrams of caffeine. Tea, on the other hand, also provides L-theanine, which has a calming effect. That’s likely the reason why drinking tea isn’t typically associated with caffeine jitters like coffee—it contains L-theanine, which helps sooth over-stimulated nerves. Now to be clear, the amount of caffeine used in research with L-theanine is only 50 mg—that’s the amount of caffeine you’d typically find in one-half cup of moderately brewed coffee. Furthermore, 100 mg of L-theanine was used alongside the caffeine. When this combination was used together, human clinical research20,21,22,23,24,25 has shown that supplementation:

    • Helped maintain focus.
    • Helped with mental flexibility, the ability to shift attention from one task to another and efficiently adapt to different situations.
    • Helped improve focus on the information while filtering out other stimuli.
    • Helped improve focus during cognitively demanding tasks.
    • Helped improve speed and accuracy of cognitive performance.
    • Helped improve mental alertness.

    Folic Acid and Vitamin B12
    Folic acid and vitamin B12 are both critical B vitamins that perform a variety of functions in the human body. Among those functions are the roles they play in cognitive performance. For example, in one study26 older adults were supplemented with 400 mcg of folic acid and 100 mcg of vitamin B12 daily. The results showed that this combination:

    • Supported healthy cognitive function in older adults.
    • Promoted healthy memory performance in older adults.

    Furthermore, vitamin B12 deficiency can result in memory loss, and supplementation can help prevent it.27,28 Since vitamin B12 deficiency is estimated to affect 10 –15 percent of individuals over the age of 60,29 supplementation is certainly worthwhile.

    What to Expect When Taking Ageless Memory
    It should be noted that the aforementioned nutraceuticals tend to provide their effects at different times, so even if you use all of them your results will be progressive rather than instantaneous. Essentially, here’s how it will likely work (although everyone is different and results and timing may differ for you as well):

    Nutraceutical Effects on Memory and Cognitive Function


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    10. Raghav S, Singh H, Dalal PK, Srivastava JS, Asthana OP. Randomized controlled trial of standardized Bacopa monniera extract in age-associated memory impairment. Indian J Psychiatry. 2006 Oct-Dec; 48(4): 238–42.
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  • Dear Readers,

    Welcome to the June 2017 issue of TotalHealth Online.

    We begin with "Stocking Your Kitchen For Success," by Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS. In this first of a series of previews from her book, The NEW Fat Flush Plan—a full update of the New York Times Best Seller—she shares her preferences for cookware, knives and other handy items for a successful kitchen experience.

    Dallas Clouatre's, PhD, article, "Herbs For Rest And Relaxation," lays out a convincing case for changes to our addiction to coffee. He explores a list of herbs, which will help to cut down and eventually kick the coffee habit. And your body will thank you for it.

    Christine Horner, MD, in "Female And Over 40? Two Health Mistakes To Avoid—For Radiant Health, Ageless Beauty," discusses Relizen, a product introduced in the U.S. several years ago. To date, over one million women worldwide have used this supplement with great satisfaction; and it is currently the number one non-hormonal menopausal product used in France.

    Elson Haas, MD, continues from last month's topic sugar, with "Sugar Health And The Glycemic Index." Haas discusses the history and politics of sugar. You can't get away from it, however, you can create an awareness of its influence. And make a difference in your loved ones lives. He Includes his basic glycemic index to start you off.

    Gene Bruno, MS, MHS, RH(AHG), in "The Importance Of Minerals: For Bone & More," covers the key nutrients, calcium, magnesium, and zinc, potassium and others. For all those concerned (men and women) with bone density don't miss Bruno's article.

    Gloria Gilbère, CDP, DAHom, PhD, presents "Roasted One-Dish Meals," a recipe you can adapt with your favorite veggies for this one-dish meal which is based on no nightshades!

    In "A Natural Treatment for Depression-Curcumin," Charles Bens, PhD, discusses a recent study showing Curcumin as effective as Prozac and without the side effects.

    Are you ready to be able to get 8–9 hours of solid sleep a night? Jacob Teitelbaum, MD, can help you with "Get Great Sleep—Naturally!" He tells us for a fact it is possible to get eight hours of solid sleep a night. And this article shows us new treatments for optimizing sleep—naturally.

    Sherrill Sellman, ND, in "A Safe Personal Lubricant to Protect, Heal and Restore vaginal Health," calls attention to a product she recommends for women—who through aging, menopause or other reasons may be seeking relief for dryness and discomfort.

    Shawn Messonnier, DVM includes our pets with "Ginseng Use For Pets."

    Best in health,

    TWIP The Wellness Imperative People

    Click here to read the full June issue.

    Click here to read the full June issue.