Health Benefits Of Ginseng

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Overview

Ginseng is a widely favoured medicinal herb that has a long history of utilization spanning centuries in traditional medicine. It is said to harbour significant health properties that are beneficial to everyone, irrespective of age.

There are many different varieties, but the most common are American ginseng and Asian ginseng. Ginseng is renowned for its capacity to enhance energy levels. reduce stress, and improve overall health. In recent years, scientific research has confirmed many of the health benefits of ginseng, making it a popular natural supplement.

Read on to find out more details about these health benefits and how to include ginseng in your diet.

About ginseng

Health benefits of ginseng

Ginseng is beneficial for health in a variety of ways:

Boosts energy and reduces fatigue

One of the most renowned advantages of ginseng is its capability to enhance energy levels and alleviate fatigue. Several studies have found that ginseng can improve physical performance and endurance by increasing oxygen uptake and reducing fatigue-inducing substances in the body.1 Ginseng has additionally been shown to enhance cognitive performance and alleviate mental fatigue, rendering it a sought-after natural supplement for individuals requiring sustained focus and alertness throughout the day.

Improves cognitive function and brain health

Several studies have found that ginseng can improve memory, attention, and cognitive processing speed. It has also been found to protect against age-related cognitive decline and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease.2 Ginseng has also been shown to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Lowers blood sugar levels and improves insulin sensitivity

Several studies have found that ginseng can improve glucose (blood sugar) metabolism and increase insulin sensitivity, making it a potential natural treatment for diabetes. Ginseng has also been found to reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes in healthy individuals.3

Reduces inflammation and boosts the immune system

Inflammation is linked to many chronic diseases, including heart disease, cancer, and autoimmune disorders. Ginseng has been found to suppress inflammation, and it may boost the immune system by increasing the production of immune cells and improving the function of white blood cells.4

May lower the risk of certain cancers

Ginseng has been found to have anti-cancer properties and may help lower the risk of certain types of cancer such as lung and breast cancer. Ginseng has also been found to improve the quality of life in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.5

Enhances sexual function and fertility

Ginseng has been found to enhance sexual function and fertility in people assigned male at birth (AMAB) and assigned female at birth (AFAB). Several studies have found that ginseng can improve sexual function and libido in those AMAB with erectile dysfunction.6,7 Ginseng has also been found to improve fertility in people AFAB by regulating hormones and improving ovulation.8

Improves heart health and lowers blood pressure

Ginseng has been found to improve heart health and lower blood pressure. Several studies have found that ginseng can reduce the risk of heart disease by improving cholesterol levels, reducing oxidative stress, and regulating blood pressure. Ginseng has also been found to improve arterial stiffness, which is a risk factor for heart disease.9

May help with weight loss and obesity

Research has indicated that ginseng can lead to a decrease in body weight, body mass index (BMI), and waist circumference among individuals who are overweight or obese. It may also reduce inflammation and improve insulin sensitivity, both of which are linked to obesity.10

Nutrients we can get from ginseng

Ginseng is a plant rich in nutrients, housing an assortment of vitamins, minerals, and other advantageous compounds. Some of the key nutrients found in ginseng include11:

Ginsenosides

These are the active compounds found in ginseng that are responsible for many of its health benefits. Ginsenosides have been found to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-cancer properties.

Vitamins

Ginseng is a good source of several vitamins, including vitamins B1, B2, B3, and B5. These vitamins are important for energy metabolism, cognitive function, and the nervous system.

Minerals

Ginseng also serves as a valuable reservoir of minerals like potassium, magnesium, and calcium, which play a crucial role in upholding the well-being of bones, muscles, and nerves.

Polysaccharides

These are complex carbohydrates found in ginseng that have immune-boosting properties. 

Polysaccharides have been discovered to trigger the generation of white blood cells and enhance immune function.

Flavonoids

These are phytochemicals present in ginseng with antioxidant characteristics. Flavonoids have been identified as effective protectors against oxidative stress, diminishing the susceptibility to chronic conditions like heart disease and cancer.

Ways to include ginseng in your diet

There are several ways to incorporate ginseng into your diet. Here are some ideas:

Brew ginseng tea

One of the easiest ways to consume ginseng is by brewing it into tea. You can purchase ginseng tea bags or use fresh or dried ginseng root to make your tea. Simply steep the ginseng in hot water for 5-10 minutes and enjoy.

Add ginseng to smoothies

Another way to incorporate ginseng into your diet is by adding it to smoothies. Simply blend fresh or powdered ginseng root with your favourite fruits, vegetables, and other ingredients for a nutritious and energy-boosting drink.

Cook with ginseng

You can also add ginseng to your favourite recipes for a healthy and flavorful boost. Ginseng can be added to soups, stews, stir-fries, and other dishes for added nutrition and flavour.

Take ginseng supplements

If you don't like the taste of ginseng or find it difficult to incorporate it into your diet, you can also take ginseng supplements in capsule or tablet form. Be sure to follow the recommended dosage and speak with a healthcare professional before use.

Use ginseng as a tonic 

Ginseng can also be used as a tonic to support overall health and wellness. Simply mix fresh or powdered ginseng root with honey or another natural sweetener and take a spoonful each day.

How much is enough?

The appropriate dosage of ginseng depends on various factors such as age, health status, and the purpose of use. The dosage may also vary based on the form of ginseng consumed. For example, the recommended dosage for ginseng supplements may differ from that of ginseng tea or ginseng extract.

In general, the recommended daily dose of ginseng ranges from 500mg to 3g. However, it is important to follow the specific dosing instructions provided by the manufacturer or a healthcare professional.

Side effects and how much to consume

Ginseng is generally considered safe when consumed in recommended dosages. However, some individuals may experience side effects such as:

  • Headaches
  • Upset stomach
  • Insomnia

These side effects are usually mild and go away on their own. In rare cases, ginseng may cause more serious side effects such as:

  • Allergic reactions
  • High blood pressure
  • Rapid heart rate

To mitigate the likelihood of unwanted side effects, it is imperative to stick to the recommended dosage and refrain from surpassing it. Moreover, it is of utmost importance to seek advice from a healthcare professional before integrating ginseng into your health routine, particularly if you have preexisting medical conditions or are under prescription medication.

Summary

Ginseng is a nutrient-dense plant that has been used for centuries for its medicinal properties. It is a good source of vitamins, minerals, and other beneficial compounds such as ginsenosides, polysaccharides, flavonoids, and peptides. Incorporating ginseng into the diet or taking it as a supplement can provide various health benefits, including boosting energy, improving cognitive function, lowering blood sugar levels, reducing inflammation, enhancing sexual function, and helping with weight loss and obesity. However, ginseng may interact with certain medications and should be used with caution. The recommended dosage varies depending on the ginseng variety and the intended usage, and it is always advisable to seek guidance from a healthcare expert before commencing any supplementation.

References

  1. Bach HV, Kim J, Myung SK, Cho YA. Efficacy of Ginseng Supplements on Fatigue and Physical Performance: a Meta-analysis. Journal of Korean Medical Science [Internet]. 2016 Dec 1;31(12):1879–86. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27822924/ 
  2. Choi SH, Lee R, Nam SM, Kim DG, Cho IH, Kim HC, et al. Ginseng gintonin, aging societies, and geriatric brain diseases. Integrative Medicine Research. 2021 Mar;10(1):100450.
  3. Chen W, Balan P, Popovich DG. Review of Ginseng Anti-Diabetic Studies. Molecules [Internet]. 2019 Dec 9;24(24). Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6943541/ 
  4. Kang SW, Min HY. Ginseng, the “Immunity Boost”: The Effects of Panax ginseng on Immune System. Journal of Ginseng Research [Internet]. 2012 Oct 15;36(4):354–68. Available from: http://koreascience.or.kr/article/JAKO201229664766672.page 
  5. Chen S, Wang Z, Huang Y, O’Barr SA, Wong RA, Yeung S, et al. Ginseng and Anticancer Drug Combination to Improve Cancer Chemotherapy: A Critical Review. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine [Internet]. 2014 [cited 2020 Jan 8];2014:1–13. Available from: https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2014/168940/ 
  6. Leung KW, Wong AS. Ginseng and male reproductive function. Spermatogenesis [Internet]. 2013 Jul;3(3):e26391. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3861174/ 
  7. Lee HW, Lee MS, Kim TH, Alraek T, Zaslawski C, Kim JW, et al. Ginseng for erectile dysfunction. The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews [Internet]. 2021 Apr 19 [cited 2021 Nov 21];4:CD012654. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33871063/ 
  8. Faghani M, Saedi S, Khanaki K, Mohammadghasemi F. Ginseng alleviates folliculogenesis disorders via induction of cell proliferation and downregulation of apoptotic markers in nicotine-treated mice. Journal of Ovarian Research [Internet]. 2022 Jan 23 [cited 2023 Mar 23];15:14. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8785492/ 
  9. Kim JH. Cardiovascular Diseases and Panax ginseng: A Review on Molecular Mechanisms and Medical Applications. Journal of Ginseng Research. 2012 Jan 11;36(1):16–26.
  10. Li Z, Ji GE. Ginseng and obesity. Journal of Ginseng Research [Internet]. 2018 Jan;42(1):1–8. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5766689/ 
  11. Szczuka D, Nowak A, Zakłos-Szyda M, Kochan E, Szymańska G, Motyl I, et al. American Ginseng (Panax quinquefolium L.) as a Source of Bioactive Phytochemicals with Pro-Health Properties. Nutrients. 2019 May 9;11(5):1041.

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This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Salma Younas

Doctor of Pharmacy- Pharm-D, University of the Punjab, Pakistan

Salma is a Pharmacist by profession with more than two years of working experience.
She has worked as a Production and Warehouse Pharmacist in well known Pharma industries.
She is now working in a community Pharmacy as a registered Pharmacist and also a freelance medical writer!

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