Ginseng improves fatigue, performance, cognition, and is anti-cancer. It is an herbal plant that has been used for thousands of years in Eastern medicine. Read more to learn about how this ancient plant can improve your health.
- What is Ginseng?
- Common Types of Ginseng
- Active Constituents of Ginseng
- How Ginseng Interacts with the Body
- Health Benefits of Ginseng
- Ginseng Has Anti-Cancer Effects
- Ginseng is Neuroprotective and is Good for the Brain
- Ginseng is Anti-Inflammatory
- Ginseng Improves Metabolic Health
- Ginseng Helps with Fatigue
- Adverse Effects and Contraindications
- Buy Ginseng
- Health Tools I Wish I Had When I Was Sick
What is Ginseng?
Ginseng is an herbal plant found in North America and eastern Asia.
There are many different types of ginseng (American, Red, Indian, and others), American ginseng being a very popular one. American ginseng is known for its stimulant properties and is highly used in traditional Chinese medicine. Native Americans have used it as a headache reliever and treatment for fever and indigestion. It has been known to be effective for boosting mood, immunity, and cognition. Many studies have suggested that ginseng may protect against cancer.
Ginseng extracts can be safely taken as a supplement in 200mg to 400mg doses, although whole ginseng can be found and used in Chinese medicine. Higher doses may lead to anxiety and restlessness.
Common Types of Ginseng
American Ginseng (Panax quinquefolius)
American ginseng is commonly used in traditional Chinese medicine and is used to calm and to combat fatigue. It is also thought to regulate hormones, relieve stress, and stimulate the immune system. American ginseng must be aged for six years until it is considered acceptable for medicinal use.
Asian Ginseng (Panax ginseng)
Asian ginseng, also called red or Korean ginseng, is considered the opposite of American ginseng, where Asian ginseng is thought to stimulate the nervous system and enhance cognitive performance. It shows promise in helping with neurodegenerative diseases, cancer, and stroke.
Siberian Ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus)
While not considered a true ginseng, Siberian ginseng has anti-fatigue properties and helps with the immune system, much like Asian ginseng. Siberian ginseng is not a true ginseng but has many similar properties, leading to its common name.
Active Constituents of Ginseng
- Protopanaxadiol-type (PPD), including Rb1, Rc, Rb2, Rd, Rg3, and Rh2
- Ginsenosidesprotopanaxatriol-type (PPT), including Rg1, Re, Rg2, and Rh1 ginsenosides
- Protopanaxatriol-type (PPT), including Rg1, Re, Rg2, and Rh1 ginsenosides
- Ocotillol-type, such as 24-(R)-pseudoginsenoside F11
- Oleanolic acid-type, such as Ro ginsenoside
In addition, non-ginsenosides are also found in ginseng, including:
- Polyacetylenes, including panaxynol and panaxydol
- Arginine (the amino acid) and its derivatives such as arginyl-fructose and arginyl-fructosyl-glucose
Pharmacokinetics of various components of ginseng vary greatly (R).
How Ginseng Interacts with the Body
Following ingestion ginseng is brought into contact with gastric acids and the microflora and enzymes that populate the gastro-intestinal tract. It’s constituents are chemically transformed during the process, in particular sugars are removed (deglycosylation), increasing their bio-availability and reactivity (R).
Following absorption into the blood stream the ginger constituents are dispersed throughout the body where they interact either directly with metabolites or through genetic components such as the gene ACE (Angiotensin I converting enzyme).
To learn more about how the food you eat interacts with your specific genetic make up visit SelfDecode.
Health Benefits of Ginseng
Ginseng Has Anti-Cancer Effects
1) Ginseng Upregulates Anti-Cancer Enzymes
2) Ginseng and Breast Cancer
Introducing ginsenoside Rb1 or Rg1 combined with carbon nanotubes decreased cell survival rates and cancer cell growth (R).
3) Ginseng and Lung Cancer
Constituents from Korean ginseng inhibits metastasis of transplanted lung cancer cells in mice (R).
4) Ginseng and Liver Cancer
Ginsenoside compound K (made from ginseng) prevented certain cancer-promoting enzymes from working properly in liver cells (R).
5) Ginseng and Skin Cancer
Ginseng root extract reduced the number of skin tumors in mice compared to mice not treated with ginseng (R).
6) Ginseng and Prostate Cancer
Microwave-irradiated processed ginseng prevented cancer cells from further growth and increased cell death in prostate cancer cells (R).
Ginseng is Neuroprotective and is Good for the Brain
7) Ginseng Helps with Brain Inflammation
8) Ginseng Reduces Adverse Effects of Alcohol Toxicity on the Brain
Ginseng and seabuckthorn increased enzymes (ADH and ALDH) that break down alcohol in mice with acute alcohol intoxication. This helps lessens the effects in the brain against acute alcohol intoxication (R).
9) Ginseng Support Recovery from Nervous System Damage
Ginseng may improve motor function recovery after a spinal cord injury by reducing inflammation in mice (R).
10) Ginseng May Help with ADHD and Learning
Ginseng treatment increased the learning performance for impaired rats and may improve spatial cognitive impairment (R).
11) Ginseng Regulates the Stress Response
Ginseng treatment helps with physical performance and increases resistance to stress and aging by affecting the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, which increases elevated plasma corticotropin and corticosteroid levels (R).
Ginseng is Anti-Inflammatory
12) Ginseng Has Anti-Inflammatory and Antioxidant Effects
Ginseng extract prevented inflammation and protected cells from pneumococcal bacteria infection in mice (R).
Ginseng increased the growth of wound-healing cells, or fibroblasts, and increased collagen synthesis in human dermal cells (R).
Ginseng protected against chromatin damage in sperm, which leads to reproductive fitness (R).
Ginseng Improves Metabolic Health
13) Ginseng Helps with Weight Loss
Ginseng therapy was associated with increased psychological performance and mood, and decreased body weight and fasting blood glucose in patients with newly diagnosed non-insulin-dependent diabetes (R).
Ginseng Helps with Fatigue
Enzyme-modified ginseng extract treatment decreased fatigue severity in healthy adults (R).
14) Ginseng Helps with Chemotherapy-Related Fatigue
A ginsenoside treatment reduced aminotransferase and creatinine levels, indicators of adverse chemotherapy side effects, in mice (R).
Ginseng increased the score for fatigue, well-being, and overall quality of life in patients with cancer-related fatigue (R).
15) Ginseng Can Enhance Sexual Performance
Ginsenosides reduce the stress of the corpus cavernosum, the area of the penis that contains the most blood during an erection (R).
Adverse Effects and Contraindications
Symptoms of excessive ginseng use include mastalgia (breast pain), skin reactions, and vaginal bleeding (R).
Health Tools I Wish I Had When I Was Sick
At SelfHacked, it’s our goal to offer our readers all the tools possible to get optimally healthy. When I was struggling with chronic health issues I felt stuck because I didn’t have any tools to help me get better. I had to spend literally thousands of hours trying to read through studies on pubmed to figure out how the body worked and how to fix it.
That’s why I decided to create tools that will help others cut down the guesswork:
- Lab Test Analyzer – a software tool that will analyze your labs and tell you what the optimal values are for each marker — as well as provide you with actionable tips and personalized health and lifestyle recommendations to help you get there.
- SelfDecode – a software tool that will help you analyze your genetic data from companies such as 23andme and ancestry. You will learn how your health is being impacted by your genes, and how to use this knowledge to your advantage.
- SelfHacked Secrets – an ebook where we examine and explain the biggest overlooked environmental factors that cause disease. This ebook is a great place to start your journey if you want to learn the essential steps to optimizing your health.
- SelfHacked Elimination Diet course – a video course that will help you figure out which diet works best for you
- Selfhacked Inflammation course – a video course on inflammation and how to bring it down
- Biohacking insomnia – an ebook on how to get great sleep
- Lectin Avoidance Cookbook – an e-cookbook for people with food sensitivities
- BrainGauge – a device that detects subtle brain changes and allows you to test what’s working for you
- SelfHacked VIP – an area where you can ask me (Joe) questions about health topics
The information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration or any other medical body. We do not aim to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or disease. Information is shared for educational purposes only. You must consult your doctor before acting on any content on this website, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition.
HOW WOULD YOU RATE THIS ARTICLE?