Ginseng has a number of health, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant effects and benefits.
Ginseng is actually any of 11 different species of the Panax genus. It is found in Asia (China, Korea, Siberia) and usually in cooler regions. It is characterized by ginsenosides. Ginseng translates “man root” due to its forked shape. Panax is from the Greek meaning “all-heal” and became so named due to Linnaeus’ awareness of the root’s use in Chinese medicine as a muscle relaxant. It is used as adaptogens (increases resistance to stress), aphrodisiacs, stimulants, treatment of type II diabetes, & male sexual dysfunction. It is typically available in a dried form. The leaf is also available in a dried form.
It is often found in popular energy drinks & functional foods. The levels are usually in subclinical doses (no noticeable effect). High quality clinical studies are lacking. There is some evidence that ginseng has anticarcinogenic & antioxidant effects. It is a “promising dietary supplement” for increasing the quality of life as supported by a randomized, double-blind study performed at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. A study done at the University of Hong Kong identified anti-inflammatory properties of some of the ginsenosides in ginseng through supression of CXCL-10 (an inflammatory gene). There is evidence of cancer inhibition in animal models but no clear effect in humans. But it may reduce fatigue in cancer patients.
Ginseng does increase libido, copulatory performance, and facilitates erection in males. These effects appear to be due to the ginsenosides in ginseng and are not due to hormonal changes but rather a direct effect on the tissues. Ginseng does contain phytoestrogens.
Ginseng appears to be safe, even in large doses.
Traditional Chinese Medicine: Panax Ginseng promotes yang energy (sunshine, hot, positive, male), improves blood flow & circulation, has stimulatory effects, and improves healing.