Chinese have used ginseng for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine. Ginseng has two substantial compounds: ginsenosides and gintonin. These compounds complement each other to provide health benefits. Here are 6 health benefits of ginseng.
1. May Improve Erectile Dysfunction
One study found that men treated with Korean red ginseng had an improvement of 60 percent in ED symptoms, compared to an improvement of 30 percent provided by a drug used to treat ED (7).
In addition, another study showed that 86 people with ED had significant improvements in erectile function. Overall satisfaction after eight weeks of taking 1000 mg of aged ginseng extract (8).
Nevertheless, it needs further research to draw definite conclusions on the impact of ginseng on erectile dysfunction (9).
2. Can Increase Energy Levels
Different animal studies have linked certain components in ginseng, such as polysaccharides and oligopeptides, with lower oxidative stress and higher cell energy production that can prevent fatigue (10, 11).
One four-week research explored the impact of providing 1 or 2 grams of Panax ginseng or placebo to 90 fatigued people.
Those with Panax ginseng experienced less physical and mental fatigue than those taking placebo, as well as reductions in oxidative stress (12).
Another study in 364 cancer survivors took 2,000 mg of American ginseng or placebo. Eight weeks later, those in the ginseng group had lower levels of fatigue than those in the placebo group (13).
A review of over 155 studies suggested that ginseng supplements may not only help reduce tiredness but also increase physical activity (14).
3. May Reduce Inflammation in The Body
Ginseng has powerful antioxidant and antiviral effects. Some test-tube studies have shown that ginseng extracts and compounds of ginsenoside can inhibit inflammation and increase cell antioxidant potential (15, 16, 17).
One test-tube analysis, for example, showed that Korean red ginseng extract decreased inflammation and enhanced antioxidant activity in skin cells in people with eczema (18).
The findings, however, are positive in humans. A research in 18 young male athletes spends seven days taking 2 grams of Korean red ginseng extract three times a day.
After doing an exercise test, the men then had levels of certain inflammatory markers measured. These levels were lower than those in the placebo group, lasting up to 72 hours after testing (19).
Nevertheless, it should be noted that a specific medicinal herb was offered to the placebo group, so we need more studies.
Finally, a larger study followed 71 postmenopausal women who spent 12 weeks taking 3 grams of red ginseng or a placebo daily. It then measured the antioxidant activity and the oxidative stress markers.
Researchers concluded that red ginseng may help to reduce oxidative stress by increasing the production of antioxidant enzymes (20).
4. May Lower Blood Sugar Levels
American and Asian ginseng can improve the function of pancreatic cells, boost insulin production, and increase blood sugar uptake in the cells (23).
In addition, studies show that ginseng extracts help by providing protection, which reduces free radicals in those with diabetic cells (24).
One research tested the effects of 6 grams of Korean red ginseng, in 19 people with type 2 diabetes, along with the normal anti-diabetic drug or diet.
Ironically, during the 12-week analysis, they maintained good blood sugar control. They also experienced an 11 percent decrease in blood sugar levels, a 38 percent decrease in fasting insulin, and insulin sensitivity increased by 33 percent (25).
Another study showed that American ginseng helped 10 healthy people to improve blood sugar levels after a sugar beverage drink test (26).
The fermented red ginseng is even more effective at controlling blood sugar. Using live bacteria, fermented ginseng is produced, which transforms the ginsenosides into a more absorbed and potent form (27).
A study showed that taking 2.7 grams of fermented red ginseng daily has been effective in lowering blood sugar and increasing insulin levels after a test compared to placebo (28).
5. May Enhance the Immune System
Ginseng can reinforce the immune system. One research in 39 people who recovered from stomach cancer surgery. They treated them with 5,400 mg of ginseng daily for two years.
Interestingly, these individuals have had significant improvements in immune function and lower symptom recurrence.
Another study examined the effect of red ginseng extract on markers of the immune system in people with advanced stomach cancer undergoing postoperative chemotherapy.
Those taking red ginseng extract after three months had a better immune system than the control or placebo group (30).
In addition, a study suggested that people taking ginseng may have a higher chance of living a disease-free life (31).
It would appear that ginseng extract could also boost the effect of vaccinations on diseases such as influenza (32).
Although these studies show changes in immune system markers in people with cancer. We need further research to show ginseng’s effectiveness in improving healthy people’s resistance to infections (33).
6. Can Boost The Brain Function
One study tracked 30 healthy people, for four weeks took 200 mg of Panax ginseng daily. They had shown improvement in mental health and mood.
After 8 weeks, these benefits stopped, showing that ginseng effects could diminish with prolonged use (38).
Another study examined either 200 or 400 mg of Panax ginseng before and after a 10-minute mental test.
The 200-mg dose was more effective in enhancing mental performance and fatigue compared to the 400-mg dose (39).
Ginseng may have helped cells absorb blood sugar, which could have improved performance and decreased mental fatigue. Yet why the lower dose was more effective than the higher one is not clear.
Eight days’ study, taking 400 mg of Panax ginseng a day, increased calmness and math skills (40).
The Bottom Line
Ginseng is a herbal supplement used in Chinese medicine for centuries. It is called antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. It could also be effective in controlling blood sugar levels and supporting certain cancers. In addition, ginseng can boost the immune system, enhance brain function, combat fatigue and improve erectile dysfunction symptoms. There are three ways to classify this slow-growing, short plant with fleshy roots, depending on how long it is grown: fresh, white or red. New ginseng is harvested for 4 years, white ginseng is harvested for 4–6 years, and red ginseng is harvested for 6 years or more.
Frequently Asked Questions
Ginseng is healthy according to studies and should not cause any serious adverse effects. People taking diabetes drugs, however, should monitor their blood sugar levels when using ginseng to ensure that those levels do not go too far.
Additionally, ginseng can decrease anticoagulant drug effectiveness. Talk to your doctor for these reasons before supplementing with it.
Ginseng is not recommended for children or women who are pregnant or breastfeeding because of a lack of safety studies. Finally, there is evidence suggesting that extended use of ginseng may decrease its efficacy in the body.
To optimize its benefits, ginseng should be taken in periods of 2–3 weeks with a one or two-week break in between (43).
Overall, daily doses of 1–2 grams of raw ginseng root or an extract of 200–400 mg are recommended. Beginning with lower doses is best and rising over time.
Search for a typical ginseng extract containing 2–3 percent of total ginsenosides and eat it before meals to improve absorption and get the full benefits.
You can consume ginseng roots in many ways. You can eat it raw, or you can steam it to soften it. The extract can be used in types of paste, tablet, liquid, and oil. How much to take depends on the condition you wish to improve.
To make a tea, it can be stewed in water too. To do this, add sliced ginseng to hot water and allow it to steep for a few minutes. Ginseng can also be added to different recipes such as soups and stir-fry.
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