The famous old herb ginseng affects our immune system in a wide variety of ways, including stimulating the production of a plethora of virus-fighting immune cells. Many studies show that the American ginseng extract (because there are different ones, you must be careful) is effective in preventing a flu or common cold.
1. A specific American ginseng extract called CVT-E002 (200 mg twice daily) or placebo was given to 198 older adults (81 to 84) living in a nursing home or assisted living facility. About 90% of them had the flu vaccine in the previous two years. Ginseng supplements led to an overall 89% risk reduction of acute respiratory illness.
2. In a placebo-controlled study, that same extract CVT-E002 and dosage was given to 43 community-dwelling adults over 65 (followed by the flu vaccine). In the first two months, the frequency and duration of acute respiratory illnesses were the same in both the ginseng and placebo groups. But in the final two months, only 32% in the ginseng group experienced such illnesses—compared to 62% of the placebo group. Plus, the colds lasted far longer for placebo-takers: 12.6 days compared to 5.6 days for ginseng-takers. In all, ginseng reduced the risk and duration of cold symptoms by 48% and 55%, respectively.
3. In a study on 323 adults (aged 18 to 65) with a history of at least two colds in the previous year, North American ginseng or placebo was given for four months. Ginseng supplementation led to a reduced number of colds, fewer cold symptoms, and a shorter duration of symptoms (10.8 days versus 16.5 days for placebo).
4. Finally, early evidence says that ginseng may help boost the effectiveness of the flu vaccine. A total of 227 volunteers were given either 100 mg of standardized ginseng extract (Ginsana G 115) or placebo for 12 weeks. They all had the vaccine in that time. Results showed that the frequency of flu or common cold was greatly limited in the ginseng-supplemented group: 15 versus 42 in the placebo-treated group. As well, ginseng led to much higher levels of antibody immune cells, and natural killer cell activity was twice as high. These are clearly excellent results for this herb.
Sources for Today’s Articles:
The Herbal Remedy That Protects You from Colds and Flu
McElhaney, J.E., et al., “A placebo-controlled trial of a proprietary extract of North American ginseng (CVT-E002) to prevent acute respiratory illness in institutionalized older adults,” J Am Geriatr Soc. January 2004; 52(1): 13–9.
McElhaney, J.E., et al., “Efficacy and Safety of CVT-E002, a Proprietary Extract of Panax quinquefolius in the Prevention of Respiratory Infections in Influenza-Vaccinated Community-Dwelling Adults,” Influenza Res Treat. 2011; 2011: 759051.
Predy, G.N., et al., “Efficacy of an extract of North American ginseng containing poly-furanosyl-pyranosyl-saccharides for preventing upper respiratory tract infections: a randomized controlled trial,” CMAJ October 25, 2005; 173(9): 1043–8.
Scaglione, F., et al., “Efficacy and safety of the standardised Ginseng extract G115 for potentiating vaccination against the influenza syndrome and protection against the common cold [corrected],” Drugs Exp Clin Res. 1996; 22(2): 65–72.