10 Impressive Benefits of Ginseng

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

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The most impressive health benefits of ginseng include its ability to stimulate the mind, increase energy, soothe inflammation, prevent cancer, reduce stress, and prevent aging. It also helps increase sexual potency, weight loss, manage diabetes, ease menstrual discomfort, boost hair health, and protect the skin.

What is Ginseng?

Ginseng is actually a broad term that incorporates nearly a dozen different species of plants belonging to the Panax genus. This highly valued plant, which has large fleshy roots is typically found in North America and certain cooler areas of Asia. The light-colored, fleshy root is the most medicinally valuable element of the plant and can be purchased in dried, whole, or sliced form. The green, oval leaves of ginseng are used on a far more limited basis, but they do have some uses.

Ginseng root can be consumed orally, or it can be included in supplements, energy drinks, beverages, teas, and other forms. Ginseng tea is also a widely known and used beverage.

Ginseng Nutrition

Ginseng contains a compound called ginsenosides, which is responsible for its main medicinal benefits. Other compounds include polyacetylenes such as panaxynol and panaxydol, polyphenolic compounds, arginine, and its derivatives, as well as acidic polysaccharides.

Health Benefits of Ginseng

Let’s take a more in-depth look at the health benefits of ginseng:

Increased Energy

A 2013 research conducted at Daejeon Oriental Hospital of Daejeon University throws light on the anti-fatigue effects of ginseng. Polysaccharides and oligopeptides in American ginseng help to lower oxidative stress, fight fatigue, enhance physical activity, and boost energy, especially in cancer patients.

Improves Cognitive Ability

Ginseng stimulates cognitive abilities and neural activity that can be difficult to achieve in older ages. Also, the antioxidants prevent the accumulation of plaque and free radicals in the brain, effectively preventing the onset of dementia, Alzheimer’s, and other cognitive disorders.

Reduces Alcohol Toxicity

Ginseng reduces alcohol toxicity in the brain by increasing the enzymes that help in alcohol breakdown. Thus, according to a study performed at Teaching Hospital of Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, it has positive effects on acute alcohol intoxication.

Relieves Stress

Asian ginseng affects the body’s nervous system in various ways, including boosting mood and energy levels. Additionally, the adaptogens found within ginseng have been shown to alter the hormonal levels of the body, which can treat chronic stress. A study led by Jonathon Lee Reay (Northumbria University, UK) published in Human Psychopharmacology shows that ginseng improves aspects of working memory performance in young adults.

Treats ADHD

Korean red ginseng treats attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and learning power in children, as per the Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology.

Anti-Inflammatory Effects

Several studies have shown that the ginsenosides in Korean red ginseng have potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which help reduce oxidative stress and increase enzymatic activity. It can reduce the inflammation of nerves and improve the motor function recovery after a spinal cord injury.

Treats Erectile Dysfunction

Ginsenoside in Brazilian ginseng releases nitric oxide from endothelial cells, treating erectile dysfunction by causing vasodilation and relaxation of the erectile tissue. Furthermore, the herb also enhances testosterone hormone secretion in men. According to the International Journal of Impotence Research, Koren red ginseng is also a possible remedy to treat erectile dysfunction.

Premature Ejaculation

Applying a cream, which has ginseng as one of its ingredients, to the penis one hour before intercourse and then washing it off right before the intercourse helps prevent premature ejaculation.

Treats Menstrual Discomfort

Ginseng has been linked to managing menopause symptoms by Journal of Ginseng Research – Elsevier. As a soothing and anti-inflammatory substance, ginseng is often prescribed for women suffering from extreme menstrual discomfort and cramps. It can also help reduce mood swings, hot flashes, anxiety, depressive symptoms, night sweats, vaginal dryness, decreased sex drive, insomnia, weight gain, hair thinning, irritability, and other menopausal changes in the middle-aged women.ginsenginfo

Improves Sexual Performance

One of the most common traditional uses of Indian ginseng (a.k.a. ashwagandha) was as an aphrodisiac. Powdered ginseng was believed to increase male sexual performance and boost libido. Furthermore, a study by Dr. Laura Murphy, et al., Southern Illinois University, shows that ginseng can be used to treat various sexual dysfunction. 

Boosts Immune System

Ginseng’s anti-allergic, antimicrobial and antioxidant properties work as a defense mechanism against various microbial and bacterial infection. In fact, the herb enhances the effect of vaccinations against diseases like influenza, hepatitis C virus, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and rotavirus.

Reduces Fatigue

Siberian ginseng has fatigue-fighting and vitality-boosting properties. It helps decrease pain, which is one of the primary symptoms of fibromyalgia. Furthermore, it reduces inflammation and stabilizes the effect of inflammatory cytokines after chemotherapy in children. Also, it helps heal adrenal fatigue.

Weight Loss

The powerful combination of chemicals in ginseng helps in the suppression of appetite, boost metabolism and burns fat. When dried or powdered ginseng is consumed, it can quickly suppress the “hunger hormones” from triggering any cravings, thereby helping people in weight loss.

Improves Lung Function

Ginseng reduces chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a lung disorder, which cause inflammation of the upper airway. This results in congestion, nasal itching, and sneezing. It also has the ability to clear bacterial infections from the lungs.

Prevents Cancer

Ginseng shows anticancer properties due to a collective effect of antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, apoptotic, and angiogenic properties. According to research published in International Immunopharmacology, the most promising oncological area for ginseng is in colorectal cancer. Research has shown a direct decrease in colorectal cancer spread and symptoms with the regular inclusion of ginseng in one’s diet. Early research on other types of cancer like breast, skin, lung, liver, and prostate cancer show anti-tumor properties.

Lowers Blood Sugar Levels

Several studies suggest that the glucoregulatory properties of ginseng help reduce blood sugar levels in type-2 diabetes patients. Also, the ginsenosides in the herb affect the insulin production and improve insulin resistance in the body.

Other benefits

The other benefits of ginseng are:

Prevents Premature Aging

All over the world, ginseng is valued for its ability to reduce the signs of aging. Its antioxidant properties prevent the negative effects of free radicals throughout the body, which prevent cellular damage.

Improves Hair Health

One of the natural carbohydrates found in ginseng has been directly connected with the prevention of alopecia and male pattern baldness. Applying ginseng salves or consuming the spice directly can improve the health of hair follicle beds, prevent dandruff, and reduce hair loss significantly.

Skin Care

Ginseng detoxifies and boosts the immunity of the skin. By stimulating blood flow throughout the body, particularly to the skin cells, ginseng makes the skin looking young and hydrated.

Boosts Heart Health

Preliminary study shows that antioxidants found in ginseng can prevent myocardial damage and various other chronic heart diseases.

Lowers Cholesterol

Preliminary study shows Chinese red ginseng lowers serum cholesterol level.

Side Effects

Ginseng is a very powerful spice and can cause negative reactions in the body like:

  • Dry mouth, headache, dizziness, blurred vision
  • Stomach upset, diarrhea
  • Allergic reactions, skin reactions
  • Rapid heartbeat, high blood pressure
  • Nervousness, insomnia, and in serious cases, delirium (restlessness and illusion)
  • Edema (water retention)
  • Interaction with medications (diabetic drugs, antidepressants, morphine, stimulants, etc.)
  • Excessive intake of ginseng may cause Ginseng Abuse Syndrome which may cause breast tenderness, genital bleeding, hepatotoxicity, hypertension, convulsions, seizures, and reproductive toxicity.

Note: It is not recommended for pregnant and lactating women.

Avoid use of ginseng root for more than three months. Remember, everything in moderation! Always consult a medical professional before adding it to your regular diet or supplement regimen.

Types of Ginseng

The true types of ginseng are the Asian and American variety which have the active ginsenosides present in them. However, there are other adaptogenic herbs which are close relatives of ginseng and have similar properties and benefits.

  • Asian Ginseng (Panax ginseng): This classical ginseng is also known as the Koren red ginseng or South China ginseng.
  • American Ginseng (Panax quinquefolius): This is mild compared to Asian ginseng but is still very therapeutic.
  • Siberian Ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticocus): It contains a high amount of eleutherosides which exhibit similar properties as ginsenosides.
  • Indian Ginseng (Withania somnifera): It is also known as ashwagandha. This finds its application in Ayurveda.
  • Brazilian Ginseng (Pfaffia paniculata): It is also known as suma root.
About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, and publisher who earned his English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign, Urbana (USA). He is the co-founder of a literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and calls the most beautiful places in the world his office. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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