Various compounds found in the Panax ginseng plant have been shown to have powerful effects on human cognition. Panax ginseng seems to positively affect reaction time, cognitive performance, depression, learning, memory, and cognitive fatigue. With new data emerging every year, researchers are continuing to discover more about how Panax ginseng interacts with the brain.
Study 1:Panax ginseng (G115) improves aspects of working memory performance and subjective ratings of calmness in healthy young adults. One study carried out at the University of Northumbria was designed to test whether Panax ginseng could affect reaction times in healthy young adults. When the study participants were given 400mg of Panax ginseng containing 4% Ginsenosides, they were shown to have an improved level of immediate word recall at 4-6 hours after ingestion. The study participants also experienced an improvement in delayed word recall at 2 hours after ingestion and an improvement in word recollection reaction times at 2.5-4 hours after ingestion.
Ginseng for Cognitive Performace
Study 2: Single doses of Panax ginseng (G115) reduce blood glucose levels and improve cognitive performance during sustained mental activity.
The participants of this study also reported experiencing less mental fatigue after the test when compared to the control group who did not ingest any ginseng. The researchers reached the following conclusion based on their findings: “Overall these data suggest that Panax ginseng can improve performance and subjective feelings of mental fatigue during sustained mental activity. This effect may be related to the acute gluco-regulatory properties of the extract.”
Ginseng for Learning Memory
Study 3:Ginsenoside Rb1 improves spatial learning and memory by regulation of cell genesis in the hippocampal subregions of rats. Through a pronounced effect on the hippocampus, The Ginsenoside Rb1 appears to have a positive effect on learning ability, as demonstrated in studies using animal models.
When Panax ginseng derived Rb1 was administered orally to rats at 2mg/kg daily for 30 days, the rats under study demonstrated a decrease in the acquisition phase of learning. This finding suggests that the enhanced memory in these rats seen later in the study was the result of accelerated learning. Originally, the researches believed that this effect might be caused by Rb1 increasing the proliferation of cells in the hippocampus, but upon examination of the brains of the rats under study, it was found that the “…increase of cell survival in hippocampus stimulated by Rb1 may be one of the mechanisms by which ginseng facilitates spatial learning and memory.” The researchers then concluded that their “…study also indicates that Rb1 may be developed as a therapeutic agent for patients with memory impairment.”
Ginseng for Brain Fatigue
Study 4: Panax ginseng (G115) improves aspects of working memory performance and subjective ratings of calmness in healthy young adults. One study carried out at the Brain Performance and Nutrition Institute was designed to assess the effects on mood brought about by Panax Ginseng ingestion at either 200mg or 400mg in healthy young adults. The researchers found that 200mg of orally ingested Panax ginseng was able to mitigate a fall in mood associated with extensive psychological testing. Furthermore, the researchers found that 400mg brought about a state of calm.
The anti-fatiguing effects of Panax ginseng supplementation also showed no signs of diminishment over time, as the effect persisted over the course of the 8-day study.
Study 5: Single doses of Panax ginseng (G115) reduce blood glucose levels and improve cognitive performance during sustained mental activity. A follow-up study conducted by the same research group was able to replicate these results under different testing conditions. Subjects were to ingest 200mg of Panax ginseng extract containing 4% Ginsenosides. After the consumption of ginseng, participants were to complete a 10-minute neural test followed by a 50-minutes rest period. Each participant then completed this process six times in immediate succession in order to induce mental fatigue. Analysis showed that study participants who had taken the ginseng supplement outperformed the control group by a statistically significant amount. The results of this second study led the researches to conclude that “…Panax ginseng can improve performance and subjective feelings of mental fatigue during sustained mental activity.”
What the Doctor Recommends
3 Tips for a Better Memory
We all have problems recalling a stray fact or name at times, but some of us are so disorganized and forgetful that our brains sometimes seem more like a sieve. Here are 3 tips from Memory 101 psychologists Cheryl Weinstein and Winifred Sachs to help you stay organised and remember the important things:
Get in the habit of keeping items where you will need them -- keys by the front door, umbrella in the sleeve of your coat, and so on.
Minimize distractions. Do one thing at a time. Turn off the television or radio when you're talking with someone.
Take care of your body to take care of your mind. Certain medications, poor nutrition, and even small deficiencies in sleep may interfere with memory.
The review brought together information from 39 studies in the biggest summary of the effects of exercise on mental ability to date. This study found most types of moderate to vigorous exercise had a positive effect as long as sessions lasted at least 45 minutes.
The researchers say doctors should recommend people take part in exercise on as many days a week as possible.