Ginseng is used to help with a range of conditions and is believed to boost energy, reduce stress, lower blood sugar, and treat sexual dysfunction in men
Often added as an ingredient to energy drinks, herbal teas, hair tonics, and cosmetic products, ginseng has a variety of health benefits.
What is ginseng?
Ginseng is a type of slow-growing herb belonging to the Araliaceae family. It has a light-colored, forked-shaped root, a relatively long stalk, and oval green leaves.
It is a popular herb that has been used traditionally in Chinese medicine for centuries. The plant is mainly found in North America and in areas of eastern Asia such as Korea, Bhutan, and Eastern Siberia.
What are different varieties of ginseng?
The most popular types of ginseng are:
- American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius)
- Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng)
They vary in their concentrations of active compounds and effects on the body. American ginseng works as a relaxing agent, whereas the Asian variety has an invigorating effect. Both varieties can be used fresh or dried:
- Fresh or green ginseng: Raw or fresh ginseng has better nutritional value, color, and taste better than dried ginseng.
- White ginseng: White ginseng is harvested fresh and dried without being processed.
- Red ginseng: Red ginseng is harvested after 6 years, then peeled, heated through steaming, and sun-dried.
What are the health benefits of ginseng?
Ginseng contains two bioactive compounds, ginsenosides and gintonin, that complement one another to provide the following health benefits:
- Better cognitive function: Compounds in ginseng may improve cognition by protecting the brain against free radical damage. This medicinal herb has the potential to treat many cognitive deficits and improves brain function and behavior in people with conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease.
- Increased energy: Ginseng helps stimulate physical and mental activity and may help treat fatigue, weakness, and low mood.
- Anti-inflammatory: Ginseng extracts and ginsenoside compounds may reduce inflammatory markers and boost the immune system.
- Treatment of erectile dysfunction (ED): Ginseng may be useful as an alternative for the treatment of ED in men. In one study, Korean red ginseng showed a 60% improvement in ED symptoms. Herbal compounds may protect against oxidative stress in the blood vessels and tissues in the penis and restore normal function.
- Lowered blood sugar: Ginseng seems to have a significant role in the control of blood glucose in people with and without diabetes. American and Asian ginseng have been shown to enhance pancreatic cell function and boost insulin production.
Are there side effects of consuming ginseng?
Side effects of ginseng are generally mild and may cause:
Medically Reviewed on 2/1/2022