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Ginseng’s Superpower: Boosts Workout Recovery

Ginseng’s Superpower: Boosts Workout Recovery

Ginseng, a popular dietary supplement, derived from a combination of plants and herbs, possesses anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-cancer effects. These attributes contribute to alleviating fatigue and promoting muscle recovery following sports, physical activities, or exercise.
This study led by researchers at the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC) was published in the journal Nutrients (1 Trusted Source
Effect of Ginseng Intake on Muscle Damage Induced by Exercise in Healthy Adults

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Athletic Performance: Ginseng’s Surprising Impact

“We’ve found that ginseng can play a significant role as a nutritional supplement when it comes to recovering after exercise,” said Borja Muñoz, a fitness coach and one of the study’s lead authors, who has conducted this research under the supervision of his tutor Patricia Martínez, a dietician and nutritionist and course instructor at the UOC’s Faculty of Health Sciences, together with the experts Rafael Bailón and Laura Esquius, a researcher at the UOC’s Foodlab group.

To carry out the study, they systematically reviewed over 700 articles from the scientific literature and meticulously analyzed their findings to confirm these benefits for healthy adults engaging in physical exercise.

“When taken together with a balanced diet, ginseng can provide additional nutrition for athletes or anyone else who does physical exercise on a regular basis. It’s also worth noting that, unless it’s medically contraindicated in any given case, taking ginseng on a regular basis is considered beneficial (or at least not harmful) for healthy people,” said Muñoz.

The review has concluded that taking ginseng can significantly reduce post-exercise muscle damage in healthy adults. Furthermore, it improves muscle regeneration and helps the body recover from both muscle fatigue and damage after physical exercise.

Specifically, the exertion and intensity involved in sports result in damage to muscles. This is mainly inflammatory damage. The active ingredients of the compounds contained in ginseng stimulate the central nervous system, have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and regulate cortisol, the stress hormone, benefiting many of the body’s metabolic functions and helping the immune system perform as it should.

Specifically, taking ginseng systematically for a long time can mitigate the response of the biological markers, mainly creatine kinase (CK) and interleukin 6 (IL-6), responsible for exercise-induced muscle damage and inflammation.


Did You Know?

Ginseng is a traditional Chinese and Korean medicine used to promote memory, and cognition and to treat erectile dysfunction.

Furthermore, it reduces and mitigates the appearance of lactate in the blood. Lactate is a chemical compound produced by the body when muscles have insufficient oxygen due to overexertion that hinders muscles’ ability to contract, the main cause of muscle fatigue.

Ginseng’s Edge: Reducing Post-Exercise Fatigue

It should also be noted that, by reducing fatigue, taking ginseng on a regular basis may also help reduce the risk of injury, particularly in the case of muscles or ligaments, which can in turn improve athletic performance.

“Although recovery times vary based on the nature of the injury and between individuals, the damaged structures share the same physiological processes. That’s why professionals in this field must obtain the most efficient physiological context, to ensure that each person can recover as well and as quickly as possible.


This is where ginseng comes in, as it can play a significant role in recovering from injuries,” said Muñoz about the possible benefits to athletes, based on their own personal characteristics, of taking ginseng according to a schedule.

The study arose from Muñoz’s interest in confirming by means of scientific evidence the empirical experiences observed when doing work experience as a fitness coach and injury specialist in a football club in China. Muñoz observed that ginseng, a supplement very commonly used in traditional Chinese medicine, was widely used by football players, who reported beneficial effects from taking it.

“Our aim was to learn more about the effects of ginseng in a specific situation, in this case in connection with exercise, and to provide verifiable evidence of its ability to improve the body’s response to the stimuli of chronic load in sport, helping athletes to recover between training sessions, as the footballers themselves reported that it worked just like an energy drink,” said Muñoz. In fact, there are currently countless products for athletes on the market, such as tablets and specific drinks.

According to these experts, this may pave the way for studying the benefits of ginseng in greater depth and assessing how using it as a supplement can improve performance in sports. In fact, one of its main possible effects is stimulating and speeding up the body’s regeneration processes following muscle damage.

“Of the possible future research we’re considering, a study to establish a scheduled consumption protocol to find out exactly how and when athletes should take ginseng to optimize its benefits within a given timeframe is particularly appealing, as the studies carried out in relation to these cases suffer from a lack of diversity and scientific evidence,” said Martínez.

The authors stressed in this regard that the methodology to be used in each type of situation must be clarified in order to learn more about how to improve supplementation with ginseng. “There’s still a significant amount of work to do, as ginseng has the potential to increase athletes’ physical performance and help prevent certain injuries, particularly muscle injuries,” concluded Muñoz.


  1. Effect of Ginseng Intake on Muscle Damage Induced by Exercise in Healthy Adults – (


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