Ginseng

Background

Ginseng is any one of the 11 species of slow-growing perennial plants with fleshy roots, belonging to the genus Panax of the family Araliaceae; Panax means “all heal” in Greek. While there are several different herbs that fall under the description of ginseng, the term “ginseng” generally refers to American (Panax quinquefolius) as well as Asian or Korean ginseng (Panax ginseng) that contain active ingredient-type substances called ginsenosides, but the other species, such as Siberian ginseng and crown prince ginseng, have distinctively different functions. Ginseng’s natural nootropic properties have been proven to improve mental performance, enhance mood, protect against elderly memory loss, reduce anxiety and boost brain health. Nowadays, ginseng is sometimes called an “adaptogen,” a substance that is supposed to help the body better cope with mental or physical stress.[1]

Benefits

As an herbal remedy, ginseng is unique in its many benefits for a range of health conditions. But between the two true ginsengs, Asian ginseng is more researched and favorite. The main benefit of ginseng is as a whole-body health booster and it is responsible for helping to repair and boost the immune system.
Besides being a nootropic supplement, it works as an adaptogen and can enable the body to adapt to and limit damage from changes or stressors in the environment. The health benefits of ginseng includes –

  • Boosts immune system and overall health [5]
  • Improves cognitive performance and mood [6]
  • Reduces stress-related depression and anxiety [7]
  • Improves brain health [8]
  • Improve heart health [9]
  • Increases physical stamina, performance and endurance [10]
  • Improves mental performance and enhances body stability against physical loads [11]
  • Enhances focus and concentration and memory [12]
  • Helps people who have Alzheimer’s Disease [13]
  • Improve some symptoms of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) [14]
  • Helps with sexual dysfunction in men [15]
  • Lowers blood sugar and helps with type 2 diabetes [16]
  • Helps people who are fighting cancer [17]
  • Relieves menopause symptoms [18]

Another well-known benefit of ginseng is to enhance cognitive function. Several studies also indicate the supplement may help induce feelings of calmness and relaxation in healthy adults. It helps control weight and is thought to be effective against obesity. It increases athletic performance as athletes can use oxygen more effectively and it helps regulate metabolism (this alone is also likely to raise energy levels). Ginseng is also thought to work as a powerful anti-oxidant.[2][3]

How it works

There are several active ingredients found in herbal Ginseng extract supplements called ginsenosides, which chemical compounds are responsible for the numerous effects and benefits reportedly associated with Panax Ginseng. However, the actual mechanisms of action are quite complex. As this supplement is considered an adaptogen, the ingredients work to normalize multiple bodily functions. The true process is similar to a chain of command, with numerous glands controlling secretions that may be intended to regulate the health and function of the entire body (one system at a time). Ginseng helps these glands function properly and keep everything in balance as part of the body’s pursuit of homeostasis. This often means one of the ginsenosides may act as a stimulant to one gland or function and a depressant to another gland or function.
Ginsenosides are considered to be responsible for most of the activities of ginseng including vasorelaxation, antioxidation, anti-inflammation and anti-cancer. Among them the most commonly studied ginsenosides are Rb1, Rg1, Rg3, Re, and Rd. The ginsenosides Rg1 and Rb1 enhance glutamate release in rat cerebrocortical nerve terminals. They have also been shown to have beneficial effects on the central nervous system, especially cognitive function like learning and memory.[4]

Considerations

Ginseng is an all-natural, well-tolerated and safe supplement but over doses can cause some side effects such as headaches, insomnia, gastrointestinal upset (diarrhea, vomiting), high blood pressure, and skin rashes or irregularities have been reported. If any of these symptoms occur, lower your dose or stop taking the supplement altogether for a while.

Recommendations

Ginseng dosages can vary for different health conditions. The following ginseng dosages have been studied in scientific research [2]

  • For type 2 diabetes, take 200 milligrams daily
  • For erectile dysfunction, take 900 milligrams of Panax ginseng 3 times a day
  • For premature ejaculation, apply SS-Cream, containing Panax ginseng and other ingredients, to the penis one hour before intercourse and wash off before intercourse
  • For stress, tension or fatigue, take 1 gram of ginseng daily or 500 milligrams twice a day.

However, it is better to consult your physician about your appropriate dosage.

Sources