Ginseng tea is an herbal tea infusion made from the root of the ginseng plant. Native to Asia, the ginseng plant was first discovered more than 5,000 years ago in China, and has been used for its medicinal properties ever since. It is considered a powerful antioxidant and believed to support improved cognitive function, increased energy, and enhanced overall immune system functioning.
Ginseng tea is an herbal formula with a variety of uses. In most Asian cultures, it is a popular tea that is considered to be a good means of getting a “qi” boost, in addition to being beneficial for overall health. American ginseng, is often used to combat stress and for its purported immune-boosting potential.
Ginseng has been used to boost immune function in Asian cultures for centuries. It is rich in antioxidants and has been shown to act like an adaptogen, which is a plant or root that helps the body to manage stress and restore balance following a stressful situation.
Research on ginseng tea’s ability to boost immune health is ongoing and more comprehensive review is being called for.
Ginseng has long been known to contain powerful antioxidant-like properties similar to vitamin C. This study demonstrated that tea made from ginseng leaves possesses antioxidant activity. Another study found that there are antioxidant properties in all wild ginseng leaf extracts.
There is some evidence that ginseng tea may have a positive impact on cholesterol levels already within normal range, though the evidence is largely anecdotal at this point. More research is required.
Ginseng tea has been promoted for improved overall brain function, and increased mental energy and clarity. This study, while recognizing ginseng’s therapeutic potential, calls for further studies using “novel” techniques.
There are animal studies that suggest that ginseng use may have a direct impact on the central nervous system, reproductive organs, and circulatory system. Most studies, including this one, used a standardized extract and not a tea.
Another study shows that ginseng may impact the sex drive of animals through the neurotransmitters that play a role in libido.
This study showed an increase in dopamine and acetylcholine in the brain as a result of ginseng consumption. Dopamine plays a role in desire, acetylcholine plays a role in arousal, and gaba plays a role in orgasm.
There is evidence that ginseng increases the dermal cells on the scalp, which then strengthen the follicles and roots of the hair, encouraging new growth of hair strands while preventing thinning and breakage.
This in vitro study of the hair-growth promoting mechanisms of red ginseng found that it induces early progression of hair follicles into the anagen phase, stimulating hair regrowth through the enhancing proliferation of dermal papilla cells, inducing growth factors. Researchers concluded that red ginseng extract could be a potential therapeutic agent for hair growth and/or prevention of hair loss. Additional research with human trials are needed.
There are a number of types of ginseng tea, but the most popular ones include:
Panax ginseng, also called Korean ginseng, which is present in Asia. It is considered to be the most potent ginseng and is often used to boost “qi,” or energy, and to promote overall health.
Panax quinquefolius, known as American ginseng, is found naturally in the United States and Canada. It is usually used to fight stress, improve mental clarity, and for its antioxidant properties.
Red ginseng is made from ginseng that has been steamed and dried, a process that gives it its red color and changes its composition. It is believed to have strong antioxidant properties.
White ginseng is made from fresh ginseng root that has been dried, but not steamed. It is considered to be less potent than red ginseng but still has a number of healing properties.
Teas should be organic in order to reduce potential exposure to pesticides.
Ginseng tea is made from either fresh or dried ginseng slices. Though fresh ginseng slices may be difficult to find in traditional grocery stores, they could likely be found at specialty or ethnic food grocery stores. Dried ginseng slices are much easier to find in your local grocery store. To make the tea, steep the ginseng root slices in hot water for several minutes, then strain. The tea is pale in color and has a slightly bitter, earthy flavor.
There are a number of pre-made ginseng teas available if you don’t want to make it yourself, and it can also be made with ginseng extract if you can’t find ginseng locally.
There is no one best time to drink ginseng tea, it really is a matter of personal preference. Many drink ginseng tea in the morning, or before and after a workout for its purported boost in energy. Others drink it before a meal on an empty stomach for maximum absorption. If you are drinking a pre-made tea, using prepackaged ginseng, or a supplement product like capsules, powders, or extracts, with recommendations on how to use ginseng tea on the package.
It is usually suggested that you start off slowly to see how your body is going to react to the tea, especially if you are sensitive to caffeine or other stimulants.
Ginseng tea is considered safe for most people, but it can contribute to potential mild side effects such asgeneral restlessness can sometimes occur, especially if you have consumed large doses. Additional potential symptoms may also include dizziness,digestive distress, and even possible reactions in those who are allergic.
Ginseng tea is considered to be safe for most people to drink every day in moderation. It is a natural root that has been used for its potential health benefits for 5,000 years. Consuming excess amounts may result in mild side effects that can impact sleep since ginseng can be considered a more stimulating herb. If you are taking any medications on a regular basis, have any underlying medical conditions, are pregnant, or lactating, consult with your physician before drinking ginseng tea.
Drinking ginseng tea at night may contribute to sleep disturbances such as restlessness depending upon how your body reacts to it. When you begin drinking ginseng tea, it is advised to do so in the early part of the day to see how your body responds. There are people who tolerate it well before bedtime, but most people do best when taking it early morning through mid-afternoon.
There is not a lot of research data on the safety and efficacy of taking ginseng tea, and it is generally considered safe in moderation for most people. If you are taking any medications, have any underlying health issues, are pregnant, or lactating, you should consult with your physician before taking ginseng tea. It is also not advisable for children to drink ginseng tea.
Ginseng tea is not recommended for persons who are pregnant or lactating.