Can Mr. Pink Make Lindsay’s Mind Right?

OK, I admit it. I follow Lindsay Lohan on Twitter.

But where else can you get such great ideas for new stories?

Like the other day, I see this Tweet:

And I’m thinking, if that’s all it takes to get Lindsay’s mind right, then what could it do for me?

I figured I better check it out.

Mr. Pink Beverages is a Los Angeles-based company that produces Ginseng vitamin drinks, and vitamin iced teas. It seems to be the new fad drink of celebrities such as LiLo, Wayne Gretsky and Kimora Lee Simmons, just to mention a few.

Each Mr. Pink Vitamin Ginseng drinks packs 1000 mg of the “purest available” ginseng – which is about four times the amount of  ginseng in a standard ginseng supplement or capsule. They also include “100%” of Vitamins B3, B5, B6, and B12. They come with or without caffeine. These drinks are considered dietary supplements.

What are dietary supplements?

A dietary supplement is a product taken by mouth that contains a “dietary ingredient”which may include: vitamins, minerals, herbs or other botanicals, amino acids, and substances such as enzymes, organ tissues, glandulars, and metabolites.

In 1994, the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) was signed into law by President Clinton. Before this time, dietary supplements were subject to the same regulatory requirements as food.

Under DSHEA, a firm is responsible for determining that the dietary supplements it manufactures or distributes are safe and that any representations or claims made about them are substantiated by adequate evidence to show that they are not false or misleading.

The Mr. Pink company claims that ginseng:

  • Boosts the body’s defenses against physical and emotional stress.
  • Enhances mental clarity and memory
  • Fortifies the body’s immune system
  • Promotes virility as an all -natural aphrodisiac
  • Stimulates and energizes both mind and body
  • Contributes to healthy digestion and detoxification
  • Increases physical endurance and recovery

What does the scientific evidence about ginseng say?

Asian ginseng is native to China and Korea and has been used in various systems of medicine for many centuries. Asian ginseng is one of several types of true ginseng (another is American ginseng, Panax quinquefolius). The root of Asian ginseng contains active chemical components called ginsenosides (or panaxosides). These compounds, which resemble steroid hormones, are thought to be responsible for the herb’s claimed medicinal properties. The root is dried and used to make tablets or capsules, extracts, and teas, as well as creams or other preparations for external use.

According to the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, (which evaluates effectiveness based on scientific research) ginseng is possibly effective for:

  • Thinking and memory. Taking Panax ginseng by mouth might improve abstract thinking, mental arithmetic skills, and reaction times in healthy, middle-aged people. Panax ginseng alone does not seem to improve memory, but there is some evidence that a combination of Panax ginseng and ginkgo leaf extract can improve memory in otherwise healthy people between the ages of 38 and 66.
  • Diabetes. There is some evidence that Panax ginseng might lower fasting blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes.
  • Male impotence (erectile dysfunction, ED). Taking Panax ginseng by mouth seems to improve sexual function in men with ED.
  • Premature ejaculation (reaching orgasm too early) when a cream containing ginseng and other ingredients is applied directly to the skin of the penis.

On the other hand, ginseng is possibly ineffective for:

  • Improving athletic performance.
  • Improving mood and sense of well-being.
  • Hot flashes associated with menopause. Taking Panax ginseng by mouth doesn’t seem to help hot flashes but it might improve other menopausal symptoms such as fatigue, insomnia, and depression.

The American Cancer Society reports that in laboratory research “using cell cultures and animals, some ginsenosides have been shown to boost the immune system or slow the growth of cancer cells. Some may also have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. Whether these properties will translate into anticancer activity in humans is still not clear, as few human studies have been done.”

For most other claims about the health benefits of ginseng, not enough scientific evidence is available one way or the other. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) points out that they have recently funded research  to look at ginseng’s potential role in treating insulin resistance, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease.

Is ginseng safe?

According to NCCAM:

  • Short-term use of ginseng at recommended doses appears to be safe for most people. Some sources suggest that prolonged use, or higher doses might cause side effects.
  • The most common side effects are headaches and sleep and gastrointestinal problems.
  • Asian ginseng can cause allergic reactions.
  • There have been reports of breast tenderness, menstrual irregularities, and high blood pressure associated with Asian ginseng products, but these products’ components were not analyzed, so effects may have been due to another herb or drug in the product.
  • Asian ginseng may lower levels of blood sugar; this effect may be seen more in people with diabetes. Therefore, people with diabetes should use extra caution with Asian ginseng, especially if they are using medicines to lower blood sugar or taking other herbs, such as bitter melon and fenugreek, that are also thought to lower blood sugar.

Have you used ginseng for treating any ailments? Has it worked for you? Share your experiences with us!

Michele R. Berman, M.D. was Clinical Director of The Pediatric Center, a private practice on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. from 1988-2000, and was named Outstanding Washington Physician by Washingtonian Magazine in 1999. She was a medical internet pioneer having established one of the first medical practice websites in 1997. Dr. Berman also authored a monthly column for Washington Parent Magazine.

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