The Top 6 Ginseng Uses and 6 Amazing Ginseng Health Benefits

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Ginseng is a traditional Chinese remedy that has been around for centuries. The myths surrounding ginseng uses call it a “cure-all”, claiming to treat chronic ailments, enhance virility, and slow down the aging process.[1]

While these claims may sound like the stuff of dreams, they bear some semblance of truth. The facts are that ginseng has earned its millennia-old reputation by actually being able to produce results. But does modern science agree?

Ginseng has been studied using modern scientific standards for the past few decades. These scientific studies hail it as being able to lower blood sugar, calm stress, and invigorate sexual functionality.[2] However, the claims about its long list of potent capabilities really seem to center on just a few important ginseng uses.

This article will explore ginseng uses with modern science. We will look at the different species of ginseng that are most popular, as well as ginseng health benefits and its possible side effects. Lastly, we’ll take a look at where to find this wonderful herb and how to use it in the easiest ways possible. So, if you are interested in knowing how this ancient herb can enhance your modern life, read on!

What is Ginseng?

3 whole ginseng roots on a white dish on a bamboo mat

Ginseng is a plant tuber of the Panax genus, and its root is a popular natural medicine. Its root is shaped like a human, and the word “ginseng” is actually derived from the Chinese term “jen-shen,” which means “in the image of a man”.[3] For this reason, it was believed that the power of this man-shaped root transferred to those who consumed it.

Ginseng root is harvested for health benefits at one of three stages of growth: fresh, white, or red.[4] Fresh ginseng is harvested before it is 4 years old, white ginseng between 4-6 years old, and red ginseng after 6 or more years. The “older” the ginseng, the more potent it is. Hence, the red variety is claimed to be more potent than the white one.[5]

The Different Types of Ginseng

different types of ginseng laid out in a market

Ginseng is found in two popular types: American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) and Asian or Korean ginseng (Panax ginseng).[6] The difference between these two types is the concentration of their main active ingredient, ginsenoside. As such, American ginseng is said to be less potent and has a relaxing effect.[7] On the other hand, Asian ginseng is said to be more potent and has an invigorating effect.[8]

Besides these two natural types of ginseng (American or Asian/Korean), Siberian ginseng is also available. However, don’t be fooled by it. Siberian ginseng is not actually ginseng, but a related plant with some stimulating properties.[9] Consequently, it lacks some of the balance and tonic properties of real ginseng.

Furthermore, there is a second ginseng imposter is on the market — wild red American ginseng or desert ginseng. This is actually a Native American plant called canaigre or rumex, and can be toxic and dangerous if it is mishandled or misused.[10]

What is Ginseng Used For?

Ginseng is well-known among herbalists and health food enthusiasts for its energy-boosting properties. If you’re wondering where to buy ginseng, you can find it in health food stores, Asian grocery stores, and even at gas stations. The reason it is everywhere now is because ginseng can help alleviate many modern health issues. Read below to see some of the many ailments that it can help you with.

Mental and physical stamina

two ginseng roots on a grey background

Ginseng helps maintain mental alertness and physical stamina. Although it is not useful to actually reduce fatigue, it is capable of helping you get through an episode of particular exhaustion, either mentally or physically.[11] Unlike caffeine, ginseng use helps keep you going without the additional jitters.[12] You’ll find that gas stations and truck stops stock ginseng supplements and drinks to help keep road-weary drivers awake during night shifts on the open road. Also, some sports players swear by it to help them achieve more on the playing field.

Colds or flu

a teapot and cup of fresh ginseng lemon tea

Ginseng builds up your immune system while it is healthy to protect you from sickness or viruses.[13] It works as a prevention system against illnesses. Ginseng also helps you build immunity to fight off infections. It does this by helping your body remember infections and pathogens that have invaded your system so that it can recognize, target and destroy them the next time.[14]

Fun Fact: By adding a spoonful of honey to ginseng tea, you can increase the ginseng health benefits of your drink! This can help to boost your immune system to ward off illnesses or to enhance your mental alertness and focus.

Allergies

ginseng supplement capsules next to a fresh ginseng root

Ginseng use protects against inflammation in the upper respiratory system. Using a ginseng nasal spray or daily capsule alongside regular anti-allergy medications can prevent allergic inflammation.[15] Because of its anti-inflammatory properties, it can help reduce the impact of almost any type of allergic inflammation, be it swelling internally or externally.[16]

Mental focus

a pile of dried ginseng root on a white table

Ginseng’s potency works as a natural aid against ADHD. Several studies on children and adolescents emphasize a dose of 200mg of American ginseng for results against ADHD, specifically to improve attention levels.[17] However, it did not improve the severity of ADHD or provide any permanent or long-term result to that effect.

Additionally, when we just need help with our general ability to focus due to stress or fatigue, ginseng is useful to help us during trying times. In fact, ginseng (both Korean and American) has proven capabilities against chronic fatigue is a viable treatment against the disease.[18]

Post-cancer treatment

a cup of ginseng tea with dried ginseng root

Ginseng is a safe and helpful complementary drug for post-cancer chemotherapy patients.[19] Its benefits during this important post-cancer treatment are two-fold. Firstly, it helps lengthen the amount of time a post-cancer patient can receive and utilize chemotherapy.[20] Ginseng does this by sensitizing the cancer cells. Secondly, it helps chemotherapy patients by resolving the drug-induced toxicity that commonly occurs from consistent chemotherapy. It helps these patients receive longer chemo exposure that allows modern science to diminish the regrowth of cancerous tumors.[21]

The Top 6 Ginseng Health Benefits

Ginseng use has increased all over the world. This is due to the proven ginseng health benefits that help improve people’s health. Here are some of the health benefits you could receive from adding ginseng to your wellness regimen.

1. Increased mental alertness

a pile of fresh ginseng roots in a market

Taking Panax ginseng (Asian or Korean ginseng) has been proven to provide mental clarity in abstract thinking, mental arithmetic, and reaction times.[22] One study proved that taking 200 mg of Panax ginseng improved mental performance and fatigue.[23] Another study showed that taking 400 mg of ginseng daily for eight days improved test scores.[24]

Interestingly, these particular studies also noted that ginseng uses over a short period of time (less than eight weeks) proved more beneficial than taking it consistently every day.[25] Specifically, the study stated that these ginseng health benefits curtailed after the eight-week trial period but then leveled off, indicating that we won’t grow continually smarter and stronger, ad infinitum.[26] Shucks!

2. Improves energy

a cup of ginseng tea in a traditional chinese tea cup

In addition to mental alertness, Asian ginseng also improves physical energy. One study showed that ginseng leaf extract increased swimming time and protein synthesis within muscle cells.[27] Thus, ginseng use can make our muscle more agile and capable!

In a review of over 155 energy studies on ginseng use, it was found that Panax ginseng can reduce fatigue and increase energy.[28] In one study, subjects with chronic fatigue were given one or two grams of Panax ginseng for four weeks. As a result, the subjects felt less physical and mental fatigue, had more energy, and felt less stress.[29] In another study, cancer survivors were given 2,000 mg of Panax ginseng for eight weeks. Those subjects also experienced lower fatigue levels.[30]

3. Fights cancer

powdered ginseng root in a white soup spoon

Scientific studies show that red ginseng (either Korean or American) can stop and prevent cancer cells from proliferating.[31]

In a study done on post-chemotherapy and advanced cancer patients, the effects of 100 mg of Korean red ginseng were studied over seven days.[32] The results were amazing! Even in that short period of time, the results showed a vast reduction in inflammation for these patients. Ginseng use actually improved cell damage.[33]

In another study combining 9 prior cancer studies on 344,554 people, ginseng use lowered the risk of developing cancer by 16%.[34] Thus, its use has a preventative effect against cancer to some degree.

4. Anti-inflammatory effects

four small ginseng roots on a wooden plate

Ginseng use decreases cell inflammation. While this may seem vague, it implies that ginseng use does have an impact against inflammation of cells in its myriad ways. Several tests and studies showed that ginseng health benefits include reducing cell inflammation linked to the following conditions:

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Hepatitis
  • COPD
  • Allergies[35]
  • Cancer
  • Post-chemotherapy treatment[36]
  • Stomach inflammation[37]

So, regardless of whether it’s mental or physical inflammation, permanently debilitating or seasonal, ginseng use can calm it by reducing both the swelling and pain of the cells and the duration of the inflammation.

5. Helps diabetes

a heap of cut and dried ginseng roots

The studies conducted on diabetic patients are diverse and many. In fact, type 2 diabetes is one of the most studied conditions that show how ginseng use provides benefits. In particular, some of the studies conclude that ginseng use is a complement to regular medical treatments. But other studies introduce it use as an alternative treatment to standard medication.[38]

According to numerous studies, the effects of both American and Korean ginseng offer significant help for Type 2 diabetics. One study proved that Korean red ginseng actually improved insulin sensitivity in diabetic patients.[39] In another study, diabetics were given a daily intake of 6 grams of Korean red ginseng for 12 weeks along with their regular treatment. As a result, the subjects had a 39% increase in insulin sensitivity when taking the ginseng supplement.[40]

Therefore, as a means to regulate your insulin, both American and Korean ginseng are viable tools to try. As always, consult your doctor as it regards introducing ginseng use into your current regimen for insulin regulation.

6. Strengthens the immune system

ginseng roots on a table surrounded by bay leaves

A strong immune system is key to good health. Having a strong immune system will keep all kinds of illnesses at bay. Numerous studies prove that ginseng health benefits include strengthening, moderating, and boosting the immune system.[41]

In a study on patients recovering after stomach cancer, they were given an amplified dose of ginseng of 5,400 mg over two years.[42] It showed that ginseng use significantly improved their immune functions and lowered the recurrence of cancer symptoms.[43]

Another study on post-cancer patients conducted over five years identified that ginseng use actually lowered the recurrence of cancer symptoms by 35%. Additionally, these participants exhibited a 38% higher survival rate compared to those who did not take ginseng.[44]

In conclusion, ginseng uses are varied and very effective. Moreover, it can be coupled with other herbs or medications to help provide more specific treatments. What is notable about ginseng use is that it regulates and normalizes your body’s cells to eliminate toxicity and balance your system.

Things to Know Before Ginseng Use

So, you’ve read about ginseng uses and heard all about the benefits. Here are some things you should know before you go out and grab your ginseng supplements.

  • Do your research. Always buy ginseng from a well-respected company. As it’s an expensive root, disreputable manufacturers might sell adulterated ginseng or include less than advertised on the bottle.
  • Always read the label. Be sure to read the label and ingredients. Look specifically for Asian or American ginseng, as opposed to the Siberian or American desert variety. The quality and active ingredients in ginseng supplements vary widely from maker to maker because the FDA has not established standard doses of ginseng for any condition.
  • There is a small chance of side effects. The main issue that has been reported from ginseng use is trouble sleeping. Additionally, American ginseng use reportedly also has some specific side effects, including allergies, diarrhea, itching, headache, and nervousness.[45] Generally speaking, research has shown there are no serious side effects. [46] However, do discuss with your doctor before you begin a daily regimen.
  • No clinical trials. Regarding specific dosage, no clinical trials have been done. Therefore, there are no recommendations on the exact method and dose of ginseng to treat a symptom or sickness.
  • Not FDA approved. Because no clinical trials have been done on ginseng health benefits, FDA has not approved its use for any of its proven health benefits. Despite these limitations, ginseng is still popular simply because people feel the actual benefits of it.

4 Common Ways to Take Ginseng

one ginseng root and three ginseng supplement capsules on a wooden table
  1. Capsules: This is the easiest and most common form of ginseng use. Taking a daily supplement of it can help you maintain your everyday.
  2. Drinks: This is the second most common form of ginseng. You’ll usually find them sold in ready-to-drink bottles. These drinks are best for a quick burst of energy or to ward off a cold if you’re feeling under the weather.
  3. Root: You can normally find dried ginseng root in Asian food stores. It is usually brewed in hot water (as you would normal tea), then drunk as a tea. You can also find ginseng packed in a jar packed in honey. Because ginseng root is bitter in taste, preserving it in honey makes it more palatable for consumption in small doses.
  4. Tea: Ginseng tea can be purchased in the form of teabags. To ensure that the teabags consist of ginseng root, you will have to read the ingredient list. Also, the ingredients list will help you determine whether it is American ginseng or Korean ginseng.

Enjoy the Best Ginseng Tea Benefits with This Simple Recipe

Ginseng tea is very easy to make using things you already have in your kitchen. Here is a very easy recipe to follow, using the ginseng supplements you may already have on hand.

Honey and Lemon Ginseng Tea Recipe

a large clear mug of ginseng lemon tea made from a homemade recipe

Prep time: 1 minute  |  Cook time: 5 minutes
Tools/Equipment: 1 mug, 1 square of cheesecloth or material (like an old t-shirt) about 1” square

Ingredients

  • 1 ginseng supplement
  • 1 cup of boiling water
  • Honey & lemon (optional)

Directions

  1. Empty the ginseng supplement into the square of cheese cloth and tie its corners.
  2. Place the sachet into the mug.
  3. Pour boiling water into the mug and steep the tea for 5 minutes.
  4. Remove the sachet, and add honey to taste.

Tip: If it’s hot and sunny outside, add a sprig of mint to the tea and several ice cubes for a cool, sweet treat with added benefits!

Top 6 Ginseng Uses and 6 Amazing Ginseng Health Benefits

Conclusion

So, welcome to the wonderful world of ginseng use! So many studies prove the ginseng health benefits of regular ginseng use for so many health concerns. It is certainly worth trying it to see if it makes you feel calmer, sharper, stronger, or just a little better every day!

References

  • [1] https://www.motherearthliving.com/plant-profile/ginseng
  • [2] https://prostate.net/articles/can-ginseng-treat-erectile-dysfunction
  • [3] Purdue University. https://hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/afcm/ginseng.html
  • [4] https://examine.com/supplements/panax-ginseng/
  • [5] https://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/7474.html
  • [6] Examine. https://examine.com/supplements/panax-ginseng/
  • [7] https://www.encyclopedia.com/medicine/divisions-diagnostics-and-procedures/medicine/american-ginseng
  • [8] https://www.encyclopedia.com/medicine/divisions-diagnostics-and-procedures/medicine/american-ginseng
  • [9] DEC. https://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/7474.html
  • [10] https://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/7474.html
  • [11] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3375032/
  • [12] NCBI. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3375032/
  • [13] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3659612/
  • [14] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3659612/
  • [15] NCBI. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3659635/
  • [16] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3659635/
  • [17] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3659525/
  • [18] NCBI. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29624410
  • [19] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4021740/
  • [20] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4021740/
  • [21] NCBI. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4021740/
  • [22] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15982990
  • [23] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15982990
  • [24] NCBI. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15982990
  • [25] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11895046
  • [26] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11895046
  • [27] NCBI. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2770043/
  • [28] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11895046
  • [29] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11895046
  • [30] NCBI. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11895046
  • [31] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26850342
  • [32] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25347695
  • [33] NCBI. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25347695
  • [34] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5005362/
  • [35] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3659587/
  • [36] NCBI. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25347695
  • [37] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2936409/
  • [38] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2770043/
  • [39] NCBI. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16860976
  • [40] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16860976
  • [41] http://or.nsfc.gov.cn/bitstream/00001903-5/120306/1/1000000870495.pdf
  • [42] Korea Med. https://koreamed.org/SearchBasic.php?RID=0037JKSS/1998.54.6.854&DT=1
  • [43] https://koreamed.org/SearchBasic.php?RID=0037JKSS/1998.54.6.854&DT=1
  • [44] https://www.researchgate.net/publication/264099368
  • [45] NCBI. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11895046
  • [46] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11895046

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