Botanical: Panax ginseng
Family: Araliaceae (ginseng)
Other common names: Asian Ginseng, Chinese Ginseng, Panax Ginseng, Ginseng Root, Red Ginseng, Asiatic Ginger, Oriental Ginseng, Jintsam, Ninjin
Many athletes swear that Korean Ginseng gives them a competitive edge; women drink it to alleviate unpleasant symptoms of menopause; and millions of people have used this "wonder herb"
to cope with stress and also as a stimulant and tonic. Researchers claim that it lowers cholesterol (especially LDL or bad cholesterol), acts as an aphrodisiac and digestive aid, improves mental function and increases the body's energy and stamina. Long considered to be an overall body tonic, Korean Ginseng is believed to vitalize, strengthen and rejuvenate the entire body.
The information presented herein by Herbal Extracts Plus is intended for educational purposes only. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent disease. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.
The Mandarin word for Ginseng is Len seng, which literally means "Root of Man," and the name Ginseng comes from the Chinese, jen shen, also meaning" Man Root." This low-growing, perennial shrub, native to the cool-summer regions of China and North Korea, takes at least four years to mature, and it has been a part of Chinese medicine for over five thousand years. It was first mentioned in the Shen Nong Herbal (compiled between the first and second centuries B.C.) as a superior drug, suitable for long-term use without toxic effects, and it was long considered an "anti-ageing" herb. Another Asian species (Panax pseudoginseng) is native to Japan and may be used for some of the same purposes. Ginseng was traditionally used to curb emotions, stop agitation, brighten the eyes, enlighten the mind and increase wisdom. The herb was also commonly used by elderly people to improve mental and physical vitality. The reverence with which some hold Ginseng is reflected in its botanical name, Panax, which is derived from the Greek word for panacea or all healing. Some of the constituents in Korean Ginseng include ginsenosides, kaempferol, beta-sitosterol, campesterols, cinnamic-, ferulic-, fumaric-, oleanolic- and vanillic-acids, olyacetylinic alcohol, as well as saponins, stigmasterol, calcium, choline, fiber, folate, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, silicon, zinc, B-vitamins and vitamin C.
Korean Ginseng has been known to increase physical and mental endurance, reduce cholesterol and increase energy. It is commonly taken to enhance physical performance, prolong life and increase sexual potency. Korean Ginseng may increase the body’s production of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) and certain steroid hormones, such as adrenaline. This is believed to stimulate the natural function of the body’s stress-response system, which keeps the adrenal glands from “burning out” during prolonged periods of stress. It is even though that Korean Ginseng may reduce the stress of anticipated pain.
With regard to cognitive ability, Korean Ginseng is said to significantly improve abstract thinking. Several studies have found that treatment with Ginseng improved the ability to complete detailed tasks, perform mental arithmetic, as well as improve concentration, memory, attention and a general ability to cope. Furthermore, it is said to enhance reaction to visual and auditory stimuli, as well as visual and motor
According to 2008 research presented to the American Psychiatric Association, Panax Ginseng shows promise for relieving symptoms of schizophrenia that are difficult to treat, including “negative symptoms,” characterized by lack of pleasure or motivation in everyday life, severe reduction in emotional expression, cognitive impairment or inability to converse meaningfully. The research suggests that Panax Ginseng hits some of the same targets in the brain as drugs being developed to treat both negative and positive symptoms of schizophrenia; and unexpectedly, Ginseng's effect on reducing symptoms continued even when the patients were crossed over to placebo. While too early to prescribe Korean Ginseng for schizophrenia, the findings indicate promise as an adjunct to their other antipsychotic medications.
Korean Ginseng has long been reported to be an aphrodisiac: Chemicals in Ginseng are thought to stimulate the part of the brain known as the hypothalamus to direct the production of hormones that stimulate cell growth and healing in the sex organs. It is also believed to promote better blood circulation within the penis, and an Italian study found that Ginseng use may increase testosterone levels, as well as the number and motility of sperm cells.
Korean Ginseng is considered an "adaptogen" in that it normalizes body functions during stressful or other situations that would alter those functions, helping the body to adapt and return to an overall sense of well-being. Dr. I. Brekhman, a Soviet scientist, was the first to describe this unique ability to normalize body functions. For example, if blood sugar levels drop too low, or blood pressure climbs too high, an adaptogen will aid the body's return to normal function. Long before scientists researched its benefits, Chinese herbalists prescribed it to normalize blood pressure, improve blood circulation and prevent heart disease.
Korean Ginseng is thought to prevent liver damage in people who have been exposed to various drugs and toxins. It has also been used to help in withdrawal from methamphetamines and cocaine.
When taken in lower doses, Korean Ginseng (like American Ginseng) acts as a sedative, and in higher doses, it is a stimulant.
Many women have claimed relief from hot flashes and other discomforts of menopause when taking the herb. Lab studies indicate that it increases ovarian estrogen production in early menopause; consequently, if taking HRT (hormone replacement therapy), one should consult a physician prior to taking Asian Ginseng.
Korean Ginseng is said to enhance the breakdown of alcohol in the body and therefore may shorten a hangover. The herb may also help improve drug or alcohol-induced liver dysfunction in older adults.
Panax Ginseng has been used to help the digestive system and stimulate the appetite; thus, some herbalists have used it with some success when treating anorexia. It is also said to reduce digestive upset caused by emotional stress and inhibit ulcer formation.
Korean Ginseng may be very beneficial to good heart health: Studies in Japan have shown that taking Panax Ginseng will lower LDL or "bad" cholesterol and raise HDL (the beneficial) cholesterol. This action is believed to increase blood circulation, reduce blood pressure and reduce the risk of strokes, arteriosclerosis and heart attacks. Long before scientists researched this herb, Chinese herbalists prescribed it to normalize blood pressure, improve blood circulation and prevent heart disease. Modern tests have shown that Korean Ginseng slows the heart rate and reduces the heart's demand for oxygen. It is also said to increase the strength with which the heart muscle can contract, and protects the heart from myopathy, a weakness or wasting of the heart muscle.
With regard to invasive malignant diseases, Japan's Kanazawa University's preliminary research found that unpurified Panax Ginseng's saponins (or ginsenosides, the main active ingredients in Ginseng) not only inhibited the growth of malignant cells, but also actually converted the diseased cells to normal cells. Polyacetylinic alcohol, a compound in Korean Ginseng is said to retard cell reproduction in tumors, and the ginsenosides in the herb have been found to induce cell differentiation, a prelude to natural cell death in leukemia cells. Another Korean study found that Ginseng destroys malignant lung cells that are resistant to standard chemotherapy drug treatments. It is also thought to protect against the effects of radiation exposure.
Non-saponin constituents in Korean Ginseng root appear to be responsible for its ability to lower blood sugar in diabetics. People with Type-2 diabetes often find that after two weeks of consuming Ginseng their blood-sugar levels go down considerably, and and it may reduce insulin requirements and prolong the effect of injected insulin. Diabetics should take Ginseng only under a physician's supervision.
There have been reports of interactions between Korean Ginseng Herbal Supplement and MAO inhibitor drugs, digitalis, warfarin (Coumadin) and high doses of prescription steroids. Pregnant women and nursing mothers should not use Ginseng, and diabetics should consult a physician before using. Avoid taking Asian/Korean Ginseng for two weeks prior to elective surgery. Korean Ginseng should not be used by people with hypoglycemia, high blood pressure, heart disorders, asthma or insomnia without first consulting a physician. Taking more than the recommended dosage of Korean Ginseng may cause slight insomnia if taken at bedtime. Ginseng should not be used with stimulants or alcohol.
Follow this link - Panax Ginseng - to read a very informative article from The American Academy of Family Physicians about this herb.