The Forum for Endurance Athletes


Postby ezclimb » Fri Oct 01, 2010 12:48 pm

I've been taking lots of supplements for years, many of those provided by E-Caps (yes, ol school). Can anyone tell me if they take Ginseng on a regular basis, and if so, what are your real or perceived opinions? Thanks.
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Re: Ginseng

Postby steve-born » Fri Oct 01, 2010 1:14 pm

Here is some information from an old email I had on file from Dr. Bill Misner, which I think will be helpful, even though it is a few years old. He writes:

For athletes looking for a supplement stimulant to improve their performance, ginseng adaptogens potentially may not be the best idea for endurance performance outcome. There are 12 active Triterpenoid Saponin Glycosides (Ginsenosides) found in genuine ginseng whose ingredient labels suggest they contain Real Ginseng [Panax Ginseng, Panax Notoginseng, Eleutheroccus Senticosus (Wujia/Ciwujia), or Panax Quinquefolius] but may not contain ginseng at all. Tyler (1987) tested 54 varieties and found that 32 of them were virtually void of true gensenosides. The Colgan Sports Institute tested ginseng products from 1982 to 1993 and reported that 95% of all products they tested were nothing more than "table sugar".

Ginseng appears to enhance mental performance by "stimulating" increased excitatory hormones. Samura(1985) using real Ginsenosides known as "G115 Extract" from a popular over-the-counter supplement, showed increased levels of adrenal/pituitary excitatory hormones in rabbits. D'Angelo(1986) showed similar results in humans. It takes roughly 200 mg. of standardized ginseng extract to create these "stimulatory" conditions (Dorling(1980). Only 2 products may actually contain up to the 1-2% standardized ginsenosides, amounting totally to 20-40 mg. of their recommended dose formula. Seeing athletes spend their money on a product that does not contain what it says it contains when it may be inadequate to enhance performance outcome... but may inhibit performance especially if it is warm or humid by inducing cramping by dehydration.

I have in my files a number reports from endurance athletes who supplemented during an event with Ciwujia, a distant ginseng weed-like plant, who cramped or dehydrated in their respective events. When they stopped taking it the next event, their performance outcome returned, improving dramatically. Ginseng gives the alert mental stimulation but appears to elevate perspiration rate in the heat or humidity. That is fine for shorter events [under 90 minutes], but it may not be the best supplement to use 2 hours or beyond. Now, some athletes can take ginseng and have no problems, but most of them will tell me they do not know if it makes any difference. Why use a supplement if you do not know whether it enhances performance? If it is real quality standardized Ginseng, there may be health benefits but no performance benefits as observed from reliable research. My objections to ginseng use center on not knowing if it does contain true ginseng or if it will enhance, not inhibit, performance in the warmer conditions.

Tyler, V.E., THE NEW HONEST HERBAL. Philadelphia, George F. Stickley, 1987.

Samura, M.M., et al., Effect of standardized ginseng extract G115 on the metabolism and electrical activity of the rabbit's brain. JOURNAL OF INTERNATIONAL MEDICAL RESEARCH, 1985;13:342-348.

D'Angelo, L., et al., A double-blind placebo controlled clinical study o
n the effect of standardized ginseng extract on psychomotor performance in healthy volunteers. J. ETHNOPHARMACOL., 1986;16:15-22.

Dorling, E., et al., Do ginsenosides influence performance. Results of a double-blind study. NOTABENE MEDICI, 1980;10:241-246.

--- END ---

I have used ginseng supplements in the past (a long, long time ago) but found no noticeably positive effect on performance or health. Given the tremendous number of other nutrients/supplements that have been shown to be beneficial, I determined that ginseng was no longer a necessity in my supplement "arsenal."

Hope this helps.

Sincerely -

Steve Born
Fueling Expert
Event Sponsorship Coordinator
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Re: Ginseng

Postby ezclimb » Sat Oct 02, 2010 9:33 pm


Much appreciated response. As it's been a second I saw you last, I hope all is well with you.
Ed (Shapiro)
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