Obesity and overweight are increasingly common health conditions caused by growth of fat cells number in the body. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “Overweight and obesity are defined as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that presents a risk to health”.
A commonly accepted way by medical professionals to measure obesity and overweight is calculating the body mass index or BMI, which according to WHO, is “a person’s weight (in pounds or kilograms) divided by the square of his or her height (in meters)”. A person having a BMI equal to or over 25 is considered overweight, and 30 or more is considered to be obese. This method of deduction, however, is a crude way to decipher someone’s obesity, though on the positive side, is gender-neutral. Obesity and overweight have been key risk factors for a number of medical conditions including diabetes, numerous cardiovascular diseases, and even certain types of cancer.
According to WHO, the number of obese people have doubled in the world since 1980. In 2014, there were over 1.9 billion (39%) people, 18 years or older, who were marked overweight out of which 600 million (13%) people were obese.1
Ways of Treatment:
Traditional Chinese Medication or TCM has been assimilating the healing power of herbal elements as well as lifestyle moderation for centuries, which has been quintessentially effective in regulating body weight thereby tackling obesity right at its origin.
One such herbal element that has been traditionally used in some Asian countries such as Korea to reduce body weight, is Korean Red Ginseng (also known as Panax Ginseng or Asian Ginseng). Korean Red Ginseng is the steamed version of the dry white Ginseng roots. People, under various experimental programs on Korean Red Ginseng, have experienced substantial reduction of body mass index, food intake, and waist-hip ratio than those that were kept on placebo. This also resulted in oxidizing the fat, improved insulin and glucose level, which improved the quality of their life as a whole.
Fermented Red Ginseng is an aid in lowering blood sugar, cholesterol, and leptin levels, and also in manipulating lipid metabolism. Ginseng increases cholecystokinin, a hormone that is secreted in the intestine to digest protein and fats as well as to regulate body weight and appetite. It also activates biochemical pathways such as AMP activated protein kinase activity (an enzyme preventing fat deposition and stimulating breakdown of fats).2
One of the fundamental reasons behind overweight and obesity is the energy imbalance — the huge chasm between energy consumption and expenditure. The major factors contributing to this energy imbalance are:
1. An increase in consumption of high calorie foods, which are also high on fat
2. A decrease in physical activity due to rising sedentary work culture, changing transportation modes, and heightening urbanization.
The prime consequences of obesity and overweight are:
1. Cardiovascular diseases (dominant cause of death in the year 2012)
2. Type 2 Diabetes
3. Musculoskeletal disorders
4. Some forms of cancer
How Korean Red Ginseng Works?
Korean Red Ginseng encourages weight reduction by controlling enzymes and hormones that prevent fat accumulation, and by regulating appetite. In this way the herb helps address the issue of obesity without any side-effects or chemical repercussions. People taking Ginseng have shown favourable results in losing their excess fat.
Angiogenesis and extracellular matrix remodelling has been associated generally with the growth and development of adipose tissue. As Ginseng is known to inhibit angiogenesis as well as matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) activity, it can be hypothesized that obesity and adipose tissue growth can be controlled by Korean Red Ginseng.
Korean Red Ginseng has distinct ginsenoside profiles, such as protopanaxadiol that show antidiabetic and antiobesity effects. In a study, Ginseng extract reduced sugar level, food consumption and weight in mice and increased energy expenditure. Korean Red Ginseng is a traditional treatment in Asian countries for obesity, diabetes, liver and cardiovascular disorders.
A WHO report (2002-05) claims that the world market for herbal medicines, based on traditional knowledge, was estimated $60 thousand million, and the most popular herbal products were Ginseng, Ginkgo Biloba and Garlic.3
Alongside obesity, Ginseng also affects other metabolic functions that indirectly regulate obesity and overweight issues. Those are as follows:
1. Blood sugar: Ginsenosides regulate blood sugar levels by raising glucose uptake, and activating the biochemical pathways that foster leptin and insulin sensitivity. Insulin sensitivity enhances insulin’s effectiveness and anti-glucose metabolism, thereby putting an overall effect on obesity.
2. Digestion: Consumption of Ginseng over a period of 8 weeks may bring significant and favourable change in human gut microflora.
3. Capacity and Stamina: Ginseng is mixed in many energy drinks to boost stamina and act as an ergogenic (that enhances athletic performance) aid. Ginseng alone or with caffeine at high doses, may significantly foster endurance.
Besides, Ginseng improves immunity, and acts as an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-microbial agent. It also improves cognitive function and alleviates depression, anxiety and brain related disorders.4
Obesity, overweight or other related diseases can be kept at bay with minor preventive measures. At an individual level, one may limit calorie intake, increase consumption of fruits and vegetables, and engage in physical activities regularly. On a large scale, the administration can regulate food with high sugar and fat, and provide alternative natural treatment options such as Korean Red Ginseng.
1. World Health Organization, The. 10 facts on obesity (October 2017)
2. Zhipeng Li, et al. Effects of fermented ginseng root and ginseng berry on obesity and lipid metabolism in mice fed a high-fat diet
3. Lee Hyunghee, et al. Effects of Korean red ginseng (Panax ginseng) on obesity and adipose inflammation in ovariectomized mice http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378874115302701
4. Fayeza Md. Siraj, et al. Ginseng and obesity: Observations from assorted perspectives