For well over 2,000 years ginseng has been a valuable herb found in most apothecaries across Asia. There are many ginseng health benefits that make it a wonderful herb to incorporate into your health regimen.
An important component of Chinese medicine, and often utilized by Native Americans in North America, ginseng has proven its effectiveness again and again, naturally healing a multitude of ailments ranging from overall lethargy to various forms of cancer.
There are numerous species of ginseng. The chief species of ginseng include:
- Panax ginseng, found in China and Korea
- Panax japonicum, found in Japan
- Panax quinquefolium, native to North America.
Another, similar plant, Eleutherococcus senticosus, also known as “Siberian Ginseng” or Eleuthero, is not actually related to true ginseng but exhibits many of the same benefits and healing properties. For the purposes of this article we will focus on the most commonly used American, Chinese, and Korean species of ginseng.
Ginseng is a perennial plant that grows best in moist, rich soil in mature hardwood forests. Although the total time from seed to maturation may be several years, its market value is quite substantial, ranging from $300 – $1,000 per pound of dried root. Once found in high concentrations across North America, it is now more difficult to wild harvest, due to its status as an endangered or protected species in some states. Many plant and herb nurseries sell ginseng seeds and rootstock for home production in an attempt to reduce the impact of harvest on plants in the wild.
Ginseng root (the part of the plant that is used for herbal remedies) contains a variety of essential vitamins and minerals, as well as active compounds called “ginsenosides”. Although numerous different ginsenosides have been identified, there are nine main compounds that have thus far shown the most healing potential. The root is often powdered and put into capsules to be sold as an herbal supplement, or taken as a tincture, tea or decoction.
Ginseng Health Benefits
Although by no means exhaustive, the below list of ginseng health benefits highlights several of the most common ailments that ginseng has proven effective in treating.
Ginseng is used as a natural remedy for people who would rather try to heal their condition naturally before resorting to prescription medication, which often is not without a list of negative side effects.
As with all herbal supplementation, it is always a good idea to do further research on one’s own prior to taking it, as well as check with your doctor or naturopath to make sure there will be no adverse effects with current medications or other treatments you may be doing.
Below is a list of some of the ginseng health benefits to be aware of:
1. Ginseng Could Improve Mental Clarity and Reduce Anxiety
Brain fog, forgetfulness and general anxiety are all common symptoms that regular use of ginseng can help relieve. As an adaptogen, ginseng helps to process cortisol and other hormones that are produced during periods of high stress or anxiety. That, combined with its remarkable ability to provide mental clarity and focus, makes it a good herbal supplement to take in preparation for a busy or stressful week. Ginseng can also be combined with other cognitive enhancing herbs such as ginko and gotu cola, to provide an extra daily boost of focus and energy.
2. General Energy Tonic
For thousands of years, ginseng has been used as an all around energy tonic and wellness booster. Because of its adaptogenic properties and multitude of healing attributes, ginseng has proven beneficial for a wide range of ailments, from low energy and reduced libido, to promoting relaxation and fighting cancer. Ginseng is also an all-around immune booster and can be an effective addition to an existing preventative health regimen. The root of this plant (sometimes called man-root because of its resemblance to the human body) is where the powerhouse of healing potential is stored. Ginseng has a cumulative effect and is best taken in small doses over a long period of time for best results, although some people do experience almost instantaneous energizing effects after taking it.
3. Could Help Fight Some Types of Cancer, and Combat the Side Effects of Cancer Treatments
Multiple ginsenosides, the active, healing compounds found in ginseng, have shown promising results in both inhibiting tumor growth and reducing inflammation (one of the precursors to cancer and most other diseases) in the body. Radiation and chemotherapy are the most common conventional forms of cancer treatment, and, although generally effective, they do bring a host of debilitating side effects, chief among them extreme fatigue and loss of appetite. Read more about the side effects of chemotherapy here. Ginseng’s ability to act as an overall energy booster and immune supporting tonic has proven its effectiveness as a tool in the prevention of cancer treatment related side effects.
4. Ginseng Could be Beneficial in the Treatment of Diabetes
No longer just a health problem associated with the West, Type 2 diabetes is now affecting countries around the world, with the highest rates showing up in predominantly Asian countries. Many factors contribute to the spread of diabetes, but the most common are changes in dietary habits and a sedentary lifestyle. Ginseng has proven to be particularly effective in lowering and stabilizing blood sugar levels because it decreases the amount of cortisol found in the blood. Although cortisol has many important functions, when found in high concentrations it can negatively impact metabolism and insulin absorption, two important factors related to diabetic health.
5. Fights Against Cardiovascular Disease
Much like diabetes, cardiovascular disease was once thought to primarily affect developed countries, due in large part to diet and lifestyle choices. Unfortunately, it has rapidly spread and is now the leading cause of death worldwide. Cardiovascular disease, as its name suggests, is an ailment related to vascular dysfunction, often manifesting as high blood pressure or clogged arteries. When blood flow is impaired it can damage bodily organs, causing strokes, heart attacks and sudden death. Ginseng could be an important herb in the treatment of cardiovascular disease because it can lower blood sugar and blood pressure levels, relax constricted blood vessels, and has a general calming effect on the entire body. Interestingly, ginseng has been shown to both lower and raise blood pressure levels. While no conclusive reason has been found, studies suggest that in low doses ginseng raises blood pressure but in higher, more concentrated doses it has the opposite effect and lowers blood pressure. Until there is more definitive evidence it may be advisable for people with high blood pressure to stay away from ginseng, or at the very least consult a healthcare professional and nutritionist before taking it.
Find Out Which Nutrients Your Body Needs More Of
As the debate over healthcare access, healthcare costs and the dangers of prescription medication continues, it becomes increasingly important for individuals to maintain a preventative personal health regimen involving as many natural remedies as possible.
Incorporating healthy dietary habits and taking immune-boosting herbs and supplements like ginseng can provide us a sustainable and highly effective foundation for overall health and wellness.
But which nutrients does your body need more of? Which supplements do you need the most? This largely depends on your genetic makeup. Your DNA can make you have trouble absorbing certain nutrients through food, and therefore supplements are sometimes required.
A DNA test like the CircleDNA Vital DNA Test can provide you with diet and nutrition reports that explain the optimal diet for you, based on your genetic makeup, as well as a list of vitamins and minerals you might have higher needs of. If you take this at-home DNA test, you’ll also find out which fitness program works best for you based on your genetic body composition, and much more interesting information from DNA insights.
- Pennington Nutrition Series: Ginseng https://www.pbrc.edu/training-and-education/pdf/pns/PNS_Ginseng.pdf
- North Carolina’s Ginseng Lottery Has Begun – Uncommon Path – An REI Co-op Publication
- Ginseng – FRIENDS OF PLANT CONSERVATION
- ADAPTOGENS | Medicine Hunter
- Ginseng- Multipurpose Herb
- Ginseng shown to kill cancer cells
- Ginseng shown to kill cancer cells
- New CDC report: More than 100 million Americans have diabetes or prediabetes
- The Efficacy of Ginseng-Related Therapies in Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus – PMC
- http://pennstatehershey.adam.com/content.aspx?productId=107&pid=33&gid=000249Journal of Ginseng Research: https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/82497178.pdf