Panax ginseng, Panax quinquefolius (American ginseng, an endangered species), Panax repens. Family: Araliaceae
American ginseng, Chinese ginseng, Korean ginseng, man-root, Schinsent
Ginseng is a popular herb. A common name for ginseng is "man-root." This is because the root is shaped like a person. It has benefits for the whole body. The medicinal part is made of the dried main and lateral root and root hairs.
Ginseng commonly refers to Panax quinquefolius L. (American ginseng) or Panax ginseng C.A. Meyer (Korean ginseng). Siberian Ginseng comes from a slightly different family than Panax. It’s called Eleutherococcus senticosus Maxim. Both families of ginseng share the same chemical constituents. Panax ginseng contains saponin glycosides. These are also known as ginsenosides. Siberian ginseng doesn’t contain ginsenosides. But it has another class of compounds called eleutherosides. In all cases, they’re called adaptogens.
Medically valid uses
Animal studies show that ginseng improves stamina. It may also increase the activity of the immune system. There are no established uses for ginseng in humans.
There may be benefits that have not yet been proven through research.
Ginseng is claimed to do the following:
Boost the immune system
Improve physical and mental performance
Improve glucose levels in people with type 2 diabetes
Strengthen adrenal and reproductive glands
Speed recovery time from illnesses
Ease withdrawal from cocaine
Protect against the effects of radiation
Prevent upper respiratory infections
Stop blood from coagulating
Act like an antidepressant
Improve the body’s ability to respond to stressful situations
Widen blood vessels. This lowers blood pressure.
You can take ginseng in doses of 1 to 2 grams of root 3 or 4 times per day. You should use it for only 3 to 4 weeks. How much to take and how long to take it can vary depending upon what it's being used for. Always talk with your healthcare provider before using it.
Ginseng comes in the form of tea, dried herbs, powder, or capsules.
Side effects, toxicity, and interactions
Ginseng can cause side effects in some cases. These include headaches and problems with digestion and sleep.
Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should talk with their healthcare providers before taking any herbal medicines. Children should only use ginseng if their healthcare provider says to.
Don’t use ginseng if you have certain health issues. These include low blood sugar, high blood pressure, or heart problems.
If you’re taking medicines that lower blood sugar, talk with your healthcare provider before using ginseng. It may lower your blood sugar too much.
There are no other known food or medicine interactions with ginseng.