For over 5,000 years the Chinese have esteemed ginseng for its ability to increase one’s energy, cognitive ability, mood, and sexual drive. One elderly Chinese man urged, “Don’t waste ginseng on the young. Give it to the elderly to make them feel young again.”[i]
Ginseng is a plant that grows in the Northern hemisphere: China, Korea, Japan, Siberia, Canada, and the US. Wild ginseng was first discovered in North America in 1716 by a Jesuit priest who had heard it was sought after by the Chinese. He found the plant growing in the forests near what is now Montreal, Quebec.[ii] For untold centuries, many Native American tribes harvested ginseng for medicinal purposes.[iii]
Today, harvesting wild ginseng is regulated by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, so you’ll want to check with them before running out into the forest with your herb basket![iv] Nowadays, ginseng is commercially cultivated and is one of the most common herbal remedies in the world. About 95 percent of American Ginseng is grown in Wisconsin.[v] Most of it is exported to China.
In the US we lack significant research around the benefits of ginseng. Perhaps the primary reason for this is that most pharmaceutical research is funded by drug companies who stand to profit from the research. In the case of herbal remedies, a drug company can’t patent them, so they have little to gain financially.
However, a number of studies have been conducted in China and Korea and it’s hard to dismiss the claimed benefits of countless individuals over 5,000 years of use. Also, the German Commission E that oversees the regulation of herbal remedies in Germany endorses ginseng as a preventative and restorative agent for enhancement of mental and physical capacities.[vi]
Ginseng supplements are formulated primarily from its bulbous root, but the leaves can be used to brew tea and the berries are sometimes processed as well. When buying ginseng, always purchase it from a reputable source to ensure purity and potency of the herb. You can purchase ginseng in tea or capsule form.
5 benefits of Ginseng
The benefits of ginseng are wide and varied. In fact, the scientific name Panax comes from the Greek word panacea, which means “all-healing.”[vii] Here are just a few of the claimed benefits of ginseng:
- Boosts energy and stamina. The applications of this benefit are broad, including a Mayo Clinic study that found ginseng helped cancer patients overcome fatigue brought on by cancer treatments.[viii] Athletes find that ginseng increased their energy levels and reduced recovery time.[ix]
- Increases cognitive function. Ginseng is touted as helping improve concentration, the ability to think, learn, and remember things.[x]
- Lowers blood sugar in type 2 diabetes. Studies have demonstrated that ginseng can significantly improve blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetics.[xi]
- Promotes anti-aging. The restorative power of ginseng is especially enticing to those of us in the second half of life. This has to do with the herb’s hefty supply of antioxidants, its ability to increase blood circulation, and support the immune system.[xii]
- Increase libido and help with erectile dysfunction. One of the primary benefits ginseng has been known for through the centuries is its ability to improve sexual drive and performance in men and women. In one Korean study, 60 percent of the men who had experienced erectile dysfunction found improvement with ginseng.[xiii]
While ginseng is considered a safe herb, there are some known side effects that occur with some people. It’s interesting that one of the side effects listed is that ginseng is a stimulant and I’ve noticed that I cannot take it before I go to bed at night!
In some people, ginseng may cause headaches, dizziness, or upset stomach.[xiv] If you are on other medications, please speak with your doctor before taking ginseng to ensure there are no interactions with another drug.
As with many herbal remedies, you may need to take ginseng for a number of weeks or months before you experience its full benefits. I’ve been taking Korean ginseng for about six months now and have definitely experienced some of the benefits described above.
How about you? Have you tried ginseng for any length of time? If so, what was your experience? How did it benefit you? We’d love to hear about it!
If you haven’t tried ginseng tea or capsules, but wonder if it might benefit you in one or more of the ways listed above, why not give it a try?
By: Joe Barton
Joe is the founder of Barton Publishing, Inc., a leading natural health company specializing in publishing cutting edge reports that show people how to cure and treat themselves using safe, natural, and proven remedies. He is also a contributing writer, helping thousands of people who suffer from acid reflux, diabetes, high blood pressure, gout, and 20+ other disease and ailments enjoy healthier lives.
[i] James A. Duke, PhD, The Green Pharmacy, (Emmaus, PA: Rodale Press, 1997), p. 27.
[ii] Joseph Nordqvist, “What Is Ginseng? What Is Ginseng Used for?” Medical News Today, 29 August 2014, http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/262982.php.
[iii] US Fish and Wildlife Service, “American Ginseng,” nd, http://www.fws.gov/international/plants/american-ginseng.html.
[iv] US Fish and Wildlife Service.
[v] Joseph Nordqvist.
[vii] Herb Wisdom.
[viii] Joseph Nordqvist.
[ix] NewsMax, “Top 5 Health Benefits of Ginseng,” March 9, 2011, http://www.newsmax.com/FastFeatures/Ginseng-Signs-health-benefits/2011/03/09/id/371455/.
[x] Philaso G. Kaping, “Top 7 Health Benefits of Ginseng,” Z News, January 17, 2014, http://zeenews.india.com/news/health/healthy-eating/top-7-health-benefits-of-ginseng_20353.html.
[xii] Herb Wisdom.
[xiii] Joseph Nordqvist.
[xiv] WebMD, “Ginseng Supplements,” April 14, 2013, http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/lifestyle-guide-11/supplement-guide-ginseng.