A root that resembles a little human body complete with two arms and legs, ginseng is one of the most popular herbs in the United States. Ginseng root has been prized in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years, and often is combined with other herbs to bring long life, strength and wisdom to anyone who takes it. But not all ginseng is created equal. Asian, Chinese and Korean ginseng are the same plants, however American ginseng is a relative of the Asian varieties and Siberian Ginseng is not ginseng at all. All of these varieties contain ginsenosides, which researchers think may be the root’s most active ingredients. Traditionally, ginseng has been used to support overall health and boost the immune system. Ginseng is also thought to strengthen the body against viruses, and aid in recovery from illness. Although more study is needed, ginseng holds promise in reducing the risk of some types of cancers, slowing down or stopping the growth of tumors, improving symptoms of heart disease, lowering “bad” LDL cholesterol levels, while raising “good” HDL cholesterol levels, lowering high blood pressure and blood sugar levels, increasing alertness, and improving mental and physical performance. It is also widely accepted as helpful in boosting sexual performance. Some studies suggest that it may increase sperm production and motility, as well as decrease erection problems and symptoms of menopause. For adrenal health, ginseng is often utilized as an adaptogen, which is thought to help the body deal with physical or mental stress. Ginseng carries with it a possibility of interaction and intolerance, and may cause nervousness or sleeplessness, especially when combined with caffeine. To avoid complications, consult your Naturopathic Doctor before adding ginseng to your health regimen.
Asian Ginseng. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
Asian Ginseng. University of Maryland Medical Center.