The 5 Biggest Heath Benefits of Ginseng, According to Science

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    Ginseng has long been used in traditional medicine. This root helps support healthy blood sugar levels, boosting energy and libido.

    Ginseng is a renowned herbal supplement used for hundreds of years, particularly in Chinese medicine. Especially famous for its antioxidant-like and adaptogenic effects, ginseng has become a popular supplement across the globe. Many believe that consuming it can maintain healthy blood sugar levels (already in normal range) and possibly help with mood, stress relief, and libido.

    The supplement is also regarded as an aid in helping to support healthy cognitive function, boost the immune system, and combat fatigue. You can consume this supplement lightly steamed or raw. Alternatively, you can add it to your diet in powder or capsule form. So, whether you want a quick boost or are looking to support wellness long-term, ginseng may be worth trying.

    There are several different types of ginseng available so be sure to look at the ingredient label to find out which one you are using. The beginning portion of the ginseng is known as Panax and the second portion of the name determines the species and region it may be from. For instance, American ginseng is known as Panax quinquefolius, Asian ginseng is known as Panax ginseng.

    1. May enhance fertility potential

    There are only a select few fertility-promoting herbs available out there and ginseng is arguably one of the most well-known. The supplement is sometimes described as one of the most potent adaptogens. That is, an herbal supplement that helps to calm mental resilience and stress, while guarding against fatigue. American and Asian Ginsengs, in particular, may offer fertility support by:

    2. Promotes cognitive function

    Consuming ginseng may help support healthy brain functions including mood, behavior, and cognitive function. Ginseng supports memory and learning and promotes neuroprotection. Certain test tube studies indicate that ginseng components like compound K and ginsenosides could safeguard the brain against free radical damage.

    Another study monitored thirty healthy individuals who consumed Panax ginseng (also known as Asian ginseng) every day for four weeks. Once the study ended, the healthy subjects showed lower blood glucose levels (when levels were already in normal range) and a significant improvement in mental fatigue.

    3. Strengthens immune system & natural defense mechanisms

    As a dietary supplement, ginseng plays a vital role in promoting health by modulating the human body’s immune function. The roots of Panax quinquefolius and Panax ginseng, are commonly referred to as ginseng and are famous for having high contents of phenolic compounds, ginsenosides, saponins, carotenoids, and essential carbohydrates. Phenolic compounds. "Phenolic compounds"), for instance, aid the body with humoral immune responses by managing several immunoglobulins. Carotenoids can also help with antioxidant-like properties which can help manage oxidative stress.

    4. Boosts energy levels

    Consuming ginseng regularly can promote energy and fight fatigue. The root has certain components like oligopeptides and polysaccharides that may help to lower stress and increase energy production. These compounds may have an antioxidant effect, which can help lower oxidative stress and support higher cellular energy production.

    5. Supports healthy blood sugar levels already in a normal range

    While the research is still limited, there is evidence that the ginsenosides in ginseng can help regulate blood sugar levels already within normal range.

    First, these compounds may help with balancing blood sugar levels (already in normal range) by helping the pancreas to secrete the proper amount of hormones, helping support healthy glucose levels. They may also help the body distribute glucose to cells so it doesn’t remain in the blood. One study found Red Ginseng to be beneficial in helping postmenopausal women increase their antioxidant enzyme activity which helped to reduce oxidative stress.

    6. Potential to improve mood and reduce stress

    Ginseng also has the potential to improve mood and reduce stress. A primary component in ginseng, ginsenosides, can modulate a number of physiological mechanisms, possibly leading to improved indices of stress, fatigue, and focus. A study in young healthy adults found that single doses of ginseng led to improved mood. In addition, an animal study found that a single dose of ginseng can bring about significant changes in EEG patterns related to mood enhancement. At Care/of, we offer a focus blend product that is paired with ginkgo with ginseng and B12 for optimal mental energy.

    As for ginseng’s stress-reducing properties, Korean Red Ginseng (Panax ginseng) and American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) have stood out for its potential to help with managing stress. Animal studies have indicated that ginseng can help with managing the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, which plays a critical role in our body’s stress response.

    In addition to mental stress, ginseng may also be able to reduce oxidative stress caused by intense exercise.

    7. May support healthy skin

    Ginsenoside Rb1, a component of ginseng, has exhibited anti-aging activities in the skin that result from an increase in type I collagen production. Further, it aids in the suppression of UV-induced apoptosis, which is the programmed cell death that’s triggered by harmful ultraviolet rays. This protective effect can be paramount in preserving the skin’s youthful appearance.

    In another study, it was found that topical applications of fermented black ginseng can be beneficial for skin health.

    Korean Red Ginseng, in particular, can support circulation and skin elasticity. Adequate circulation and blood flow are crucial for delivering nutrients to skin cells, leading to a more radiant and healthy complexion! At Care/of, we have a number of products to support skin health, including Collagen, Astaxanthin, Vitamin C, Shatavari, Ceramides, and Keratin. While these supplements support healthy skin, it’s always best to address any skin concerns with your dermatologist.

    8. May enhance physical endurance and stamina

    When it comes to ginseng’s benefits on physical endurance and stamina, the evidence is mixed. In a study where participants took 200 mg doses of Panax ginseng (Asian ginseng), researchers found that the Panax ginseng did not help with running in a hot and humid environment. However, another study found that this supplement can help with circulation during exercise in trained healthy male athletes.

    A notable point is that Panax ginseng, when consumed in a dose ranging between 200 and 400 grams per day for more than 8 weeks, might improve physical performance. This time frame suggests that the benefits of ginseng might not be instantaneous, but that they might accrue over a more extended period. Another tip for athletes is that caffeine may be a better option for improving stamina. The same study that examined Panax ginseng found that caffeine consumption 1 hour prior to exercise, at a prescribed dosage of 2-9 mg/kg of body weight, may prolong exercise time to exhaustion.

    Animal research has suggested that Red ginseng can improve both physical strength and endurance, however, human research is needed to make better conclusions.

    9. Potential to improve sexual function

    Depending on the type of ginseng, it may be able to improve sexual function. This is likely due to its ability to promote circulation, which can play a major role in libido. For males, ginseng may help with reproductive health by enhancing sperm quality. For females, especially those in the peri-menopausal phase, ginseng may be able to help with increased libido.

    What are the specific benefits of different types of Ginseng

    Asian Ginseng Benefits

    Asian or Korean ginseng has been used in Chinese medicine for centuries. This type of ginseng is considered more of a stimulant than the other ginseng species. As such, Asian ginseng is known for the following benefits:

    • Improving physical stamina and endurance
    • Managing fatigue
    • Promoting memory and cognitive function
    • Enhancing the capacity to deal with stress

    White Ginseng Benefits

    White ginseng, which is ginseng that is harvested at four to six years old, has a number of benefits. Some of its benefits include:

    • Reducing stress
    • Maintaining healthy cholesterol levels (already in normal range)
    • Stimulating the immune system
    • Maintaining blood sugar levels (already in normal range)
    • Promoting vascular health
    • Boosting cognitive function in healthy individuals

    Red Ginseng Benefits

    Any ginseng that is harvested past six years of growth is considered red ginseng. Because red ginseng takes about six or more years to grow before it can be used, it doesn’t come cheap. Some of the most well-known benefits of Red ginseng include:

    • Promoting male sexual health
    • Boosting immune function
    • Supporting heart health
    • Reducing stress
    • Improving antioxidant activity in postmenopausal women

    Siberian Ginseng Benefits

    Siberian ginseng is different from other types of ginseng because it doesn’t contain ginsenosides and it is not a part of the ginseng family. Instead, Siberian ginseng contains the compound eleutheroside and it is also referred to as eleuthero or Eleutherococcus senticosus. People often use Siberian ginseng to stimulate energy, vitality, and longevity.

    American Ginseng Benefits

    American ginseng is similar to Asian ginseng but differs chemically. As such, its effects are considered less stimulating compared to Asian ginseng. According to preliminary research, American ginseng could help healthy people with:

    • Improving working memory
    • Supporting immune system performance
    • Fighting fatigue

    American ginseng is the type of ginseng found in the Care/of Focus blend where it is also combined with B12 and ginkgo to support healthy cognitive function while boosting focus and mental energy.

    Is ginseng suitable for both men and women?

    Yes, ginseng has properties that can be beneficial for both men and women. Let’s take a look at some of these benefits in more detail.

    Benefits of ginseng for men

    While ginseng offers multiple benefits, increased energy and lower stress levels are among the most common. For men, ginseng may boost sexual health, support optimum sperm count, and help boost libido. Many believe that consuming ginseng for a few weeks could also boost men’s sexual function, although the results may vary from person to person.

    Studies suggest a link between ginseng and male sexual health, which relates primarily to nervous system function and gonadal tissue, rather than any changes to hormone levels. Ginseng may encourage vasodilation and relaxation of blood vessels, promoting nitric oxide and optimal circulation. Evidence of ginseng improving the quality of sperm is limited and requires more research. However, some studies suggest ginseng can protect the testes against environmental toxins that impact fertility along with supporting a high sperm count.

    Benefits of ginseng for women

    Ginseng also provides benefits to women, helping them maintain hormonal balance. This clinical trial administered Korean ginseng for 2 weeks and urine samples showed a decrease in BPA levels in comparison to initial baseline urine samples. The women also reported significant improvements in quality of life. BPA also known as bisphenol A is suspected to be a potent hormone and endocrine disruptor. Lower levels of BPA in the urine suggest potential support in maintaining healthy hormone levels. Additional studies need to be conducted over longer periods of time.

    Women who experience hormone changes, either before, during, or after menopause may suffer from numerous symptoms, including brain fog, decreased libido, vaginal dryness, occasional sleeplessness, hot flashes, and mood swings. Red ginseng may help minimize these symptoms by promoting higher levels of antioxidant activity in postmenopausal women. Women in this study were given ginseng over a period of 3 months and levels of SOD (an antioxidant-promoting enzyme) were higher for these women than for those who did not take ginseng. The results suggest that Red ginseng may reduce oxidative stress associated with hormone changes.

    Does ginseng have side effects?

    Generally, the use of ginseng is well tolerated. However, some people may experience side effects. The most common side effects linked with American and Asian ginseng include nervousnessand stomach discomfort. Allergic reactions are quite rare, but are still possible.

    Ginseng can also interact with medications. Always consult your healthcare provider to avoid any possible interactions and side effects associated with ginseng. Ginseng also isn’t recommended for women who are pregnant or nursing. Children should also not take ginseng, since there is not enough research and evidence to support its safe administration.

    The bottom line

    Ginseng is an herbal supplement that has been used for centuries due to its myriad health benefits. There are a number of variations of ginseng, each with its own unique properties and benefits. Research has shown that ginseng has the potential to enhance fertility, promote cognitive health, support immune function, boost mood, and even support reproductive health. Ginseng is typically well-tolerated with few side effects. Before adding it to your daily regimen, it’s always recommended to consult with your healthcare provider first.

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    Dr. Carla Montrond Correia ND, CNS
    Medical Content Manager
    Dr. Montrond-Correia is a licensed naturopathic physician and a certified nutrition specialist (CNS). She holds degrees from University of Bridgeport, Georgetown University, and University of Saint Joseph, and supplemented her education with internships in the health and wellness space. She's focused on research, herbal medicine, nutrigenomics, and integrative and functional medicine. She makes time for exercise, artistic activities, and enjoying delicious food.
    Jordana Tobelem, RD
    Freelance Contributor
    Jordana Tobelem is a Registered Dietitian who enjoys helping others become the best versions of themselves through proper nutrition education. Jordana is passionate about promoting lifestyle changes through nutrition, physical activity, and behavior to create a superior quality of life. She uses her experience in the clinical field of dietetics to provide consulting services to an array of healthcare brands and companies. Jordana loves finding the most current research in nutrition to create meaningful content to share with her clients. Jordana has been a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics since 2018 and also holds certifications in both Personal Training and Health Coaching.