Aging gracefully is an art that involves maintaining good health—but, as we age, our bodies become more vulnerable and will need extra attention. In the case of postmenopausal women, reduced estrogen makes it more likely that they will experience oxidative stress, which is an indication of the imbalance between the production of reactive oxygen species and antioxidant defenses. However, there is new research that demonstrates the potential of Korean red ginseng (also called Panax ginseng) to support the health of aging women in a multitude of ways.
Studying the effects of Korean red ginseng
Korean red ginseng (KRG) is touted for having beneficial effects on aging and antioxidant capacity. For this reason, the researchers wanted to see whether KRG would also support healthy biological aging and antioxidant capacity, specifically in postmenopausal women.
The study involved 63 postmenopausal women, 33 of which were randomly given two grams of ginseng, while the rest were given a placebo over an eight-week period. For the duration of the study, the researchers monitored their mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) copy number in order to assess biological aging. Their total antioxidant status (TAS) was also observed, and the women answered questions about their energy levels and alertness before and after the study.
After the eight weeks, those who received the KRG had notably better numbers, including more TAS, indicating better antioxidant status, and more mtDNA copies, which essentially means less aging. The KRG recipients also reported increased energy in comparison to the placebo group.
According to the study authors, “The mtDNA copy number is associated with aging and oxidative stress. Therefore, our result suggests that consuming KRG can increase mitochondrial functioning, which is negatively [i.e., inversely] associated with biological aging.” Simply put, if your mitochondria are functioning at their best, then fewer aging processes are happening within your body.
Although more research that includes a wider sample (all the participants were Korean, and the researchers couldn’t control other plausible variables that may have influenced results) is needed to figure out what the optimal dose and duration would be for ginseng supplements, their findings “are consistent with those of previous studies on the effectiveness of KRG,” say the study authors.