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Ginseng – Benefits, Properties, Types, Contraindications and More

February 3, 2023
Ginseng - Benefits and Properties

Regarded as one of the most popular tuberous roots in traditional medicine, ginseng has been the subject of multiple investigations for its acclaimed adaptogenic properties. Below you can find extended information about what it is, what types of ginseng exist, the benefits proven by science so far, the best ways to consume it and some popular combinations, as well as its possible side effects, among other data from interest.

What is ginseng?

The term ginseng does not refer to a single plant, but to a group of 11 species within the genus Panax, in the Araliaceae family. They are small, slow-growing herbaceous plants with fleshy, forked, light-colored roots . The two best known species are American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) and Asian or Korean ginseng (Panax ginseng), however both types are simply known as “ginseng.”

The root or tuber of this plant, also known as the root of man for its similarity to a human figure, has been used in regions of Asia and North America for centuries due to its power as a natural supplement. The consumption of ginseng in its pure state has been linked to numerous benefits for our health , especially the strengthening of the immune system, the increase of energy and the prevention of diseases.

It is said that the concentration of active compounds varies from one type to another, hence the effects they have on our body are also different; American ginseng appears to function as a relaxing agent, while the Asian variety has a stimulating effect.

Nutritional information

Most of the benefits of ginseng root are due to its content of certain saponins called gintonins and ginsenosides , which are under clinical investigation to confirm their medical potential. Other types of compounds present in ginseng are polyacetylenes (panaxinol, panaxydol), polyphenolics, polysaccharides, as well as arginine and its derivatives. It also contains B vitamins, vitamins C and E, essential amino acids and minerals.

Types of Ginseng

Although the species included in the genus Panax are considered the “true” types of ginseng due to their high ginsenoside content, there are other adaptogenic plants whose properties are similar to those of ginseng, hence they are recognized as their medicinal relatives.

That said, the three main types are:

Asian ginseng

Also known as Korean ginseng , this is the classic and original ginseng that has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years. It grows in northern China, Korea and Russia. Its properties help treat fatigue, weakness, type 2 diabetes, erectile dysfunction, and memory problems. The raw root of Asian ginseng is known as fresh or green ginseng , the dried and unprocessed root is known as white ginseng , while the steamed and heat dehydrated root is called red ginseng .

  • White ginseng. The root is peeled and dehydrated without applying heat, usually by exposure to the open air and the sun. This variant usually contains fewer therapeutic components , as they can break down during the drying process. Drying the roots in the sun makes them turn yellowish-white.
  • Red ginseng. The tuber is peeled, steamed and then dried. The name is due to its characteristic reddish color. It is often marinated in an herbal infusion that makes the root very brittle, however this type of ginseng is less vulnerable to decay than white ginseng.

American ginseng

This species grows in various regions of North America, including New York, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Ontario, and Canada. American ginseng has been shown to fight depression, balance blood sugar levels, improve concentration, and boost the immune system. Compared to Asian ginseng, American ginseng is sweeter and milder, although it still has a great therapeutic effect . Due to overexploitation and loss of its natural habitat, the wild American ginseng plant is already rare in most of the United States and Canada. Its commercial cultivation usually uses techniques of artificial shade and wild simulation, which allows a harvest after 3 or 4 years; simulated wild cultivation often requires up to 10 years before harvest.

Siberian ginseng

This species, also known as Eleutherococcus, grows wild in Russia and Asia. It is rich in eleutherosides, compounds with properties very similar to the ginsenosides present in species of the Panax genus, but it should be noted that Siberian ginseng does not come from the same plant as the American and Korean types (products made with roots of these species usually be more expensive).

Studies indicate that being an adaptogen, Siberian ginseng can increase cardiovascular endurance, fight fatigue, and boost immunity, among many other benefits. The quality of Siberian ginseng products is often affected by the addition of ingredients that affect its therapeutic powers; silk vine is a common adulterant in this case.

Other types of ginseng are:

  • Indian ginseng. The Indian ginseng Ashwagandha is a root renowned in Ayurvedic medicine, especially for his role in increasing longevity. It has some benefits similar to classic ginseng, but it also has its own benefits, for example it has been shown to improve thyroid hormone levels (TSH, T3 and T4), relieve anxiety, balance cortisol, lower cholesterol, regulate sugar in blood and improves physical condition. Today, Indian ginseng supplements have gained popularity around the world due to the plant’s ability to solve fertility problems and low libido in both women and men.
  • Brazilian ginseng. Also known as a sum or “for everything” root, this type of ginseng comes from a vine that grows through the rainforests of South America. There is a food and natural remedy widely used by the indigenous peoples of the Amazon . Its most important health benefits include regulating testosterone levels in men and women, improving sexual performance, protecting muscles, reducing inflammation, preventing cancer, and increasing endurance in general. .
  • Tibetan ginseng. Regarded as a more potent plant than true ginseng, Tibetan rhodiola is an adaptogenic herb revered by Tibetan monks . It has been determined that most of its medicinal properties are due to two special compounds: salidroside and rosavin. This combination improves physical performance and cognitive function, protects heart health, promotes stress management and helps to achieve a state of internal balance.

Properties and benefits of ginseng: what is it for?

Ginseng is attributed energizing, anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, anti-cancer and immunological properties, hence its classification as an adaptogen (natural substances from some plants, whose effect helps the body to function optimally).

Although science requires more research to confirm the benefits of this root as a supplement, many studies have observed that its ginsenoside compounds do have a positive impact on our health.

Rise the levels of energy

Ginseng helps stimulate our physical and mental activity, especially in people who feel weak and tired. Various studies in animals have linked some components of ginseng, such as polysaccharides and oligopeptides, with less oxidative stress and greater energy production in cells , helping to combat fatigue.

A 4-week study explored the effects of giving 1–2 grams of Panax ginseng, or a placebo, to 90 people with chronic fatigue. Those who received the ginseng supplement experienced less physical and mental fatigue, as well as a reduction in oxidative stress, compared to those who took the placebo.1

Another study involving 364 cancer survivors with fatigue tested the effects of administering 2,000 mg of American ginseng, or a placebo. After eight weeks, the patients who received the ginseng had significantly lower levels of fatigue than those who had taken the placebo2.

A review of more than 155 studies on this topic suggested that ginseng supplements can not only combat weakness and reduce fatigue, but also help improve physical performance.

Improves cognitive function

Although some studies have not obtained totally convincing results, many researchers argue that ginseng consumption has an impact on thinking and cognition functions. Ginseng appears to help improve memory, behavior, and mood . According to several laboratory studies, the components of ginseng (ginsenosides) protect the brain from damage caused by free radicals.

Research that followed 30 healthy people for 4 weeks found that after consuming 200 mg of Panax ginseng daily, there had been an improvement in the mental health, social functioning, and mood of those involved. 3

Other similar studies reported that ginseng supplements could improve math skills, and even promote healthier brain function and behavior in people with Alzheimer’s disease.

Has anti-inflammatory effect on the body

Ginseng is widely used to reduce inflammation. Researchers suggest that ginsenosides are capable of targeting certain pathways in the immune system to reduce inflammatory responses . Some test-tube studies have shown that pure ginseng extracts inhibit inflammation and increase the antioxidant capacity in cells. For example, one study found that Korean red ginseng extract could reduce inflammation and enhance antioxidant activity in the skin cells of people with eczema.4.

But the results are also promising in humans. One study investigated the effects of taking 2 grams of Korean red ginseng extract 3 times a day for 7 days. In this case, those involved were 18 young athletes. When measuring the levels of certain inflammation markers after taking a stress test, these levels were found to be significantly lower in those who had taken the ginseng, compared to those who had taken a placebo. The effect lasted up to 72 hours after the test5.

Helps treat erectile dysfunction in men

Ginseng has been shown to be a useful alternative for treating erectile dysfunction (ED) in men. Apparently, the compounds contained in this tuber can reduce oxidative stress in the blood vessels and tissues of the penis, helping to restore their normal function. In addition, several studies have observed that ginseng can promote the production of nitric oxide, a compound that improves muscle relaxation in the penis, increases blood circulation and therefore helps fight impotence.

One study found that men treated with Korean red ginseng had a 60% improvement in their erectile dysfunction symptoms, compared to a 30% improvement produced by a conventional drug 6.

Another study showed that after taking 1,000 mg of aged ginseng extract for 8 weeks, 86 men with impotence had experienced significant improvements in their ability to maintain an erection, as well as their overall satisfaction 7.

Strengthens the immune system and prevents flu / colds

The properties of ginseng make it a great ally to boost our immunity in a natural way . This has been corroborated by numerous studies, especially by research that has been carried out in patients undergoing surgery or chemotherapy treatment.

A study that followed 39 recovering people after surgery for stomach cancer found that these patients had significant improvements in immune functions and fewer recurrence of symptoms after taking 5,400 mg of ginseng daily for two years 8.

Another study suggested that colon cancer operated people who take ginseng may have up to 35% more likely to be disease-free for five years, and up to 38% more likely to survive than those who do not take it. 9.

Even ginseng extract is said to be able to enhance the effect of flu and cold vaccines. Its use is also useful after infection has occurred, since it promotes the survival of infected lung epithelial cells.

Helps regulate blood sugar levels

Ginseng also serves to balance our glucose levels. The ginsenoside compounds in American ginseng and Asian ginseng have been shown to improve pancreatic cell function, increase insulin production, and increase blood sugar absorption by cells, hence ginseng is considered a good remedy for diabetes .

A study evaluated the effects of taking 6 grams of Korean red ginseng, in conjunction with medication or a regular antidiabetic diet, in 19 people with type 2 diabetes. The researchers found that these patients were able to control their blood sugar levels very well during 12 weeks. They saw an 11% decrease in blood glucose levels, a 38% decrease in fasting insulin, and a 33% increase in insulin sensitivity10.

Another study showed that American ginseng helped improve the blood sugar levels of 10 healthy people after taking a sugary drink test 11.

Fermented red ginseng appears to be even more effective for patients with diabetes . This fermented variant is produced with the help of live bacteria, which cause the ginsenosides to transform into a form that is easier for the body to absorb. In fact, one study showed that taking 2.7 grams of fermented red ginseng per day was very effective in lowering blood sugar and increasing insulin levels after a test meal.

Despite all these findings, more clinical studies are needed for science to accept ginseng as a standard therapy in the treatment of diabetes. It is not yet clear which is the most effective ginseng product or the specific dosage diabetics should take.

Has potential as an anti-cancer agent

Ginseng can be very useful in the prevention of certain types of cancer, especially due to the anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant effects of its ginsenoside compounds; These have been shown to have the ability to prevent the growth of abnormal cells .

An observational study suggested that people who take ginseng may be less likely to develop cancers of the mouth, esophagus, stomach and colon, liver and lung, compared to people who do not take it 12.

It has also been seen that the properties of ginseng root can improve the health of patients undergoing chemotherapy, reduce its side effects and improve the effect of some medications 13.

While the results have been promising, it should be noted that the scientific evidence on ginseng’s role in cancer prevention is not yet conclusive.

Promotes weight loss

There are two main reasons why ginseng can be used to lose weight, on the one hand it speeds up metabolism and affects the way the body metabolizes carbohydrates (fewer calories are converted to fat), and on the other hand it increases energy levels and physical performance (it is possible to exercise longer and burn more fat).

Those who want to lose weight with its help, can consume ginseng in the form of capsules, energy drinks, powders, among other variants. For example, many people have reported that drinking ginseng tea every day as part of their diet has helped them lose weight quickly.

It is important to note that, as with any other natural supplement, the consumption of ginseng must be complemented with a healthy lifestyle (balanced diet, regular physical exercise.)

Other known uses and benefits of ginseng include:

  • Promotes good hair health . It prevents hair loss and breakage, combats the formation of dandruff on the scalp and restores hydration from the inside of the hair fiber.
  • Increases libido and testosterone production . Compounds in Asian ginseng have been shown to work on the brain and testes to increase the production of male hormones, in this case testosterone.
  • Helps fight anxiety . By regulating the levels of hormones such as dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine, consuming ginseng improves mood, controls stress levels, and calms depressive and anxiety states.
  • Helps prevent and relieve tinnitus . Considering the link between stress and the appearance of tinnitus ( excessive stress can cause damage to the nervous system, and when this damage involves the acoustic nerves it can initiate the tinnitus process ), ginseng can be of great helps to prevent and alleviate this condition thanks to its anti-stress and neuroprotective effect.
  • Regulates blood pressure . Ginseng consumption has been shown to help keep blood pressure levels stable, preventing hypertension and lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • Mejora la salud de la piel. Los fito-nutrientes presentes en el ginseng tienen poder anti-envejecimiento, ayudan a tonificar la piel y aumentan su brillo natural.
  • Promueve la buena salud de la glándula tiroides. Al parecer los ginsenósidos del ginseng coreano tienen propiedades que brindan soporte al funcionamiento de la tiroides. Se ha observado que son capaces de inhibir la producción de una hormona llamada T3 inversa, la que a su vez inhibe la T3 activa y afecta la actividad metabólica normal. En este sentido, su efecto es similar al del ginseng indio o ashwagandha.
  • It is a universal remedy within homeopathy . Both Korean, American and Siberian ginseng are widely used in the homeopathic treatment of multiple health conditions. Some of the most common are appendicitis, weakness, headaches, lumbago, rheumatism, sciatica, and low libido.14

How to take ginseng and what is the proper dosage?

Ginseng root can be consumed in many ways, either as a supplement, infusion, or combined with food.

Ginseng supplements

These supplements generally come in the form of capsules or tablets, tincture , extract, and powder . They can be found in stores, herbalists and pharmacies, although they can also be purchased online.

It is very important to note that ginseng products can vary in quality and medicinal properties, depending on the purity with which they were made. It is always advisable to check what other ingredients a supplement has before buying it . Some manufacturers are known to use only a small or negligible amount of ginseng, supplementing the dose with other substances to lower costs.

Many people prefer to consume ginseng in capsules or in extract, not only for convenience but because they often provide a more concentrated dosage.

The best capsules are those that only contain pure powder, sourced from a certified organic producer. They generally contain between 100 and 500 mg of ginseng.

When choosing a ginseng extract , it is necessary to look at the proposed species; It is known that there is real ginseng and fake ginseng on the market . True ginseng belongs to the Panax genus, while fake ginseng does not belong to this genus. The ginsenoside content is a key point when choosing a ginseng extract. This value may vary according to the species, the part of the plant used, the age of the plant, the extraction process, the processing steps, etc. The suggestion is to look for a product that contains 2-3% total ginsenosides, and consume it before meals to increase its absorption and obtain all the benefits.

Ginseng powder and tincture are also very popular options, which can even be prepared at home if we have the natural root. It is recommended to consume a ginseng powder from organic roots , which ensure that they do not contain chemical residues.

Ginseng in the diet

This root can also be consumed as part of a healthy diet, for example added in soups, roasts and drinks. Some people use ginseng raw, while others prefer to cook it lightly to soften it or use it as a powder.

Steamed ginseng . If you have fresh or wild ginseng, you can steam it a bit before eating it. Cut the tuber into slices and put them to steam for 15 minutes. Once they are soft, you can eat them directly or add to another dish.

Ginseng powder . Ginseng powder can be used as a spice in cooking, for example by sprinkling it over ground coffee before preparing it (it adds a touch of flavor and increases the effects of caffeine), or over a broth while simmering.

Adding dried ginseng to honey to offset its sweetness and enhance its health benefits, as well as soaking a dried root for several days in beverages (vodka) to add earthy flavor, are other traditional uses to consider.

Ginseng infusions

Although it is possible to buy ginseng tea in a store, it is best to make your own infusion with a raw root.

How is ginseng tea prepared? All you need is a kettle, a tea strainer, and a fresh or dried root, preferably Korean ginseng. Due to the bitter and earthy taste of this species, the infusion is usually combined with lemon or honey.

  • Bring some water to a boil in the kettle, 1 or 2 cups as needed.
  • Meanwhile, clean the root and cut it into thin slices; 3 slices per cup is more than enough.
  • Once the water has boiled, serve it and place the ginseng in the strainer to let it sit in the hot water and allow the natural compounds to release. Some people add the ginseng directly to the water without using a strainer.
  • After 5 minutes remove the strainer with the slices, add a few drops of honey, stir well and drink immediately.

If you have a commercial Korean ginseng tea , simply soak the bag in the hot water for several minutes. 1 Korean ginseng tea bag is enough to make a standard 8-ounce serving. This is a good source of hydration, rich in ginsenosides, antioxidants and polyphenols.

Daily dose of ginseng

Most studies and clinical trials on the properties of ginseng use doses of 200 to 400 milligrams per day, but the truth is that the appropriate dose will depend on the condition being treated. In general, the recommended daily dose is:

  • 1 to 2 grams of raw ginseng root
  • 200 to 400 mg of ginseng extract

It is best to start with a lower dose and increase it over time.

One suggestion for best results is to take the supplement early in the day with a meal. If you take ginseng root at night you may have a hard time falling asleep.

Recommended dosage for various health problems:

  • Fertility Issues : Fertility supplements contain up to 1 gram of ginseng extract per serving, which should be taken 3 times a day.
  • Brain Function : Brain Support formulas provide just 400 milligrams per serving.
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease – Up to 6 grams of Korean ginseng can be taken daily.
  • Alzheimer’s disease : generally requires 4 to 9 grams per day.
  • Type 2 diabetes : 3 gram doses up to 2 hours before a meal.
  • Upper respiratory tract infections (common cold or flu) : 200 mg twice a day for 3-4 months.

Always consult your doctor before incorporating any alternative treatment, especially if you are already taking medication. Ginseng root is known to interact with insulin, antipsychotic medications, and blood thinners, such as warfarin.

Ginseng can cause side effects in some people (nervousness, fast heartbeat, difficulty sleeping, low blood pressure, among others); If this becomes the case, discontinue use immediately. Avoid combining it with other stimulant substances, such as caffeine, especially if you have a heart condition.

How is ginseng prepared from its own plant?

If you have grown your own ginseng plant at home and want to prepare it to obtain its natural benefits, you can follow these steps:

  • Rinse the roots well . Wash them as soon as possible after harvest. Fill a container or bucket with water, dip the root gently and shake it in the water, without rubbing. Let them dry in the open air in direct sunlight. Assuming you have used a Korean ginseng root, with this step you will get the white ginseng variant. To obtain the red ginseng variant, it is necessary to steam the root before putting it to dry.
  • Dehydrate the ginseng in a warm room . To completely dry the roots, you need to place them on a rack, making sure they are not touching each other. Keep the temperature at 90-95 ° F (32-35 ° C) for two weeks. Don’t use an oven, microwave, or window to dry the roots, as they can dry out too quickly. It is important that the roots are away from the sun in this step. The ideal alternative is to use a special herb dehydrator, as it will dry your roots at a constant low temperature.

After 2 weeks of drying, you will have the ginseng roots ready for use. You can use them in this way, or process them to prepare it into a powder or tincture.

How is ginseng tincture prepared?

Preparing your own tincture at home is very easy, you just have to follow these instructions:

  • Cut a fresh or dried ginseng root into small pieces.
  • Add the pieces to a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Fill the container with alcohol or a liquor, for example rum, gin, vodka, to the top.
  • Leave it in a cool place for 15-30 days; after that time you will have the ginseng tincture ready. It is recommended to strain the preparation so that no traces remain in the alcohol.

Keep in mind that you should only use 5 to 15 drops at a time.

The tincture can last indefinitely if stored in a cool, dark place.

6 Popular Combinations With Ginseng

Currently on the market there are numerous products available in which we are offered combinations of roots, herbs, minerals and vitamins with ginseng. Keep reading below to learn about some of the most popular …

Ginseng y Ginkgo biloba

Ginkgo and ginseng have been used in herbal medicine for centuries, being two of the most popular natural supplements today. Ginkgo comes from one of the oldest trees in the world, ginkgo biloba (or maidenhair), while ginseng comes from the root of a group of similar plants, known as Korean ginseng, American ginseng, Siberian ginseng, among others.

Although each offers specific benefits for our health, the combination of both extracts is widely recognized for its ability to support cognitive functions , for example memory, concentration and decision-making15.

We can usually find ginseng products with gingko biloba in the form of tea, tinctures or supplements (capsules). The typical dose is 2 tablets per day, each containing 60 mg of Panax ginseng extract and 60 mg of gingko biloba. Some experts recommend stopping taking it for 1 week each month and then resuming the regular dose. Their use together is considered safe for most people; however it is not recommended in pregnant or breastfeeding women.

A esta combinación se le han asociado posibles efectos secundarios, que incluyen dolores de cabeza, malestar gastrointestinal, reacciones en la piel, mareos y problemas para dormir. Es muy importante consultar a un médico antes de tomarla, especialmente si se está siguiendo algún tipo de tratamiento. El ginkgo y el ginseng pueden aumentar el riesgo de sangrado, de ahí que pueda interactuar con medicamentos anticoagulantes, como la warfarina. Las personas que tienen presión arterial alta, enfermedad cardíaca, diabetes o cualquier tipo de trastorno hemorrágico, no deben tomar suplementos de ginkgo y ginseng sin antes consultar a su médico de cabecera.

Ginseng y Guaraná

Guarana (Paullinia cupana) is a woody vine native to the Amazon basin. Its roasted seeds, with a smell reminiscent of chocolate, are widely used in Brazilian folk medicine to treat numerous ailments, for example fatigue, headaches and impotence. Although not enough studies have been conducted to confirm the properties of this plant, many of its chemical components have been identified, such as the alkaloids theophylline, theobromine, and various saponins and tannins.

Specifically the caffeine alkaloids, theobromine and theophylline, are commonly used for their stimulating properties . Hence, the combination of guarana and ginseng is a powerful remedy to raise energy levels, improve alertness, combat mental fatigue and increase physical performance.

Ginseng and guarana supplements are widely available in capsule form, the usual dose of which is usually 1 capsule per day.

Royal Jelly with Ginseng

Royal jelly is a thick, milky substance secreted by young nurse bees to feed the larvae of a hive, particularly the queen larvae. It is a rich source of nutrients, as well as acetylcholine , a neurotransmitter essential for cognitive function .

Considering that both ginseng and royal jelly have been widely used as stimulants, royal jelly supplements with ginseng have become a powerful combination against fatigue and brain fog.

In addition to increasing alertness, jelly and ginseng have shown immune-stimulating properties; that is why their combination is also considered as a useful weapon to fight infections.

Generally, the recommended dose in this type of supplement (royal jelly with Korean ginseng) is 1 or 2 capsules per day. People who have asthma, allergies to bees, bee products or pollen should avoid their use, or at least not do so without first consulting a doctor. It is also not recommended in children or pregnant women.

Maca y Ginseng

Maca is the common name we use to refer to the tuber of the Lepidum meyenii plant, which is native to the Peruvian Andes. Both ginseng and maca are very popular roots for their aphrodisiac effects , but this is not the only benefit they have in common. They also improve mood, increase energy levels and have a positive impact on hormone levels; in fact both have been classified as adaptogens. Interestingly, maca is known in many regions by the name of Peruvian ginseng.

The dietary supplements of maca and ginseng are ideal for people with low sexual appetite, low energy, lack of concentration or hormonal imbalances (especially women). Its synergistic benefits in the body make this combination a perfect ally to take your mental and physical performance to another level.

Ginseng and maca are generally safe to use in most healthy adults. However, these two supplements can interact if the person suffers from a disease, or takes medications / other dietary supplements. Its use is not recommended in children, pregnant women or lactating women. In some cases, overstimulation side effects may occur due to the constant consumption of maca and ginseng together.

Whenever possible, get a supplement made from organic maca and sourced from the Andean region.

Ginseng and Ginger

Both ginseng and ginger are two iconic roots within traditional medicine. Ginseng with its stimulant and antioxidant properties, and ginger with its digestive and anti-inflammatory effects, among many other benefits, help form a perfect combination for well-being and good health.

It is recommended for people who want to raise their energy levels, promote wound healing, alleviate inflammatory processes, control nausea and dizziness, as well as strengthen their immune system.

They can be found together in various formulations, usually in the form of tea, powders, and capsules . In case of not achieving the combination of both in the same product, it can be substituted for a homemade preparation, for example an infusion with commercial ginseng tea and a portion of fresh ginger root.

Green tea with ginseng

Green tea with ginseng root has been a millenary drink in the Asian continent. Excellent properties for health and well-being have been attributed to this combination. Among the main benefits of drinking green tea with ginseng are increased energy levels and physical performance, prevention of heart disease, protection against the development of various types of cancer, and weight loss by burning fats.

Generally speaking, ginseng and green tea can be safely consumed together as long as it is done in moderation. Researchers suggest that children, pregnant women, people with diabetes or high blood pressure, and those taking blood-thinning medications avoid taking this combination.

A similar blend could be red tea with ginseng , replacing green tea. Red or roibos tea comes from a native South African herb and while it is not even a true ‘tea’, its dried leaves and stems also offer a healthy brew. Due to its high content of antioxidants (vitamin C) and flavonoids, among other compounds, this drink has been associated with a lower risk of heart disease and cancer, as well as with better control of type 2 diabetes.

Ginseng: contraindications and possible side effects

Despite its therapeutic properties, ginseng can cause side effects in some people and interact with certain medications. Its use is generally considered safe when taken by mouth for short periods of time, but there have been cases of :

  • Insomnia
  • Sweating
  • Headaches
  • Dry mouth
  • High blood pressure

These symptoms usually go from mild to moderate and disappear in a matter of days, however it is necessary to see a doctor immediately if it occurs :

  • Severe skin reaction
  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Swelling in the face or tongue
  • Burning eyes
  • Skin pain, followed by a spreading red or purple rash (especially on the face or upper body)
  • Blistering and peeling of the skin

Furthermore, researchers warn that ginseng may interact with the diuretic furosemide, antidepressants, diabetes medications and insulin, blood thinners (not to be used before or after surgery), and immunosuppressants. Due to its immunostimulating properties, it may not be safe for people with rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, and other autoimmune diseases; If a person has any of these conditions, ginseng can make their symptoms worse by overstimulating the immune system.

When combined with caffeine, this root can cause arrhythmia and hypertension.

Taking into account these contraindications of ginseng, it is advisable to consult your doctor before starting to use it. It is important to know if it is a safe supplement for you, and what would be the appropriate dose.

Quick answers to Frequently Asked Questions

Can you take ginseng while pregnant and breastfeeding?

So far, research on the effects of ginseng in pregnant women is limited, as it is difficult to do a proper study in humans when there are safety and ethical concerns. Scientists often have to rely on animal studies to evaluate the safety of these supplements.

Precisely as a result of a study in rodents, researchers have warned that women should be very careful with the use of ginseng in the early stages of pregnancy. A compound in ginseng, called ginsenoside Rb1, was found to cause abnormalities in rat embryos, and the higher its concentration, the greater the risks.

Studies and reviews 16 on this issue have stated that there is no concrete evidence to say that ginseng is not safe in pregnancy, butscience concludes that it is better to avoid it, especially during the first trimester.

Neither has its safety been demonstrated during breastfeeding . Experts recommend avoiding ginseng until after you finish breastfeeding.

How can I grow ginseng?

Growing ginseng at home is not difficult, but it requires patience .

  • Search for seeds . Ginseng seeds take up to 18 months to germinate, and although the seeds can stratify for more than six months at home (stored in shallow sand or peat under refrigerated conditions), it is advisable to purchase stratified seeds from reputable distributors. Keep in mind that soft, moldy or discolored seeds are not suitable for growing. Planting purchased seedlings is easier and less time consuming, but significantly more expensive; Because ginseng takes a minimum of 5 years to harvest, the price of seedlings varies by age.
  • Choose the place of cultivation . Whether you have stratified seeds or the root, select a well-shaded location with good drainage ; for example a sloping floor with 75-80% shade. Sowing should be done where competition from weeds is minimal and passage of people is unlikely, so that the ginseng plants are not disturbed. These conditions can be simulated on raised beds covered with nets. Ginseng can also be successfully grown indoors , using containers with drainage basins and placed out of direct sunlight.
  • Sow the ginseng . The seeds should be sown in the fall to a depth of approximately 1½ inches, while the roots should be planted in early spring, less than 3 inches deep. Avoid applying fertilizers to them and keep the soil moist, but not soggy; the seeds will not germinate if the soil is dry. They usually germinate the following year, even up to 18 months later. When the plants are over a year old they will begin to bloom and produce red berries, from which more seeds can be harvested. As you probably already know, the valued part of the ginseng plant is its root, which reaches maturity only after 5 to 10 years, after it has developed three or more teeth. The teeth do not necessarily reflect the age of the plant, but they are an indicator of its maturity. Note: mice like to peck at ginseng roots; place mouse traps around your plants.
  • Harvest the roots . Once it has reached maturity, the ginseng must be harvested in the fall. Usually, the part of the plant above the surface dies this season, but grows back in the spring. Use a pointed shovel to dig under the plant, leaving plenty of space (about 6 inches or 15 cm) between the plant and where the shovel is pushing. In this way you avoid damaging the roots during extraction . Then briefly rinse them in a bucket of cold water to remove excess dirt. Then place them on a wooden tray or wire rack, avoiding that they touch each other. and wash them gently under a sink faucet or with a hose. Let them dry in a well-ventilated room with a temperature between 70º and 90ºF (21-32ºC).

What is the ginseng plant like?

Ginseng (Panax ginseng) is a small herbaceous plant of the Araliaceae family, whose average height is 60 centimeters. It is said that when it is just germinated, its appearance is similar to that of a strawberry plant.

  • It has round stems and green leaves divided into 5 lobes.
  • Its tiny flowers , which appear in early summer, are purple.
  • The roots are fleshy, thick and resemble a human figure.
  • Once the ginseng plant has reached maturity (years after sowing), it begins to produce its fruits , in this case bright red berries that grow in the shape of a bouquet.

Ashwagandha vs Ginseng: which is better?

Both Indian ginseng (Ashwagandha) and Asian ginseng have adaptogenic properties that can benefit our health. The choice of which of the two types of ginseng is better will depend on what is being sought in each case, as well as possible contraindications that exist.

In general, ashwagandha has a more calming effect and can be used for long periods, while Korean ginseng acts as a stimulant and its use is only recommended for the short term.

What is Triple Ginseng?

Triple Ginseng is the brand name for a supplement made from ginseng to increase energy, vitality and strength, improve mental and physical performance, and keep stress levels under control. In this case, each capsule contains extracts of 3 types of ginseng : Korean ginseng, red ginseng and American ginseng.

Where can you buy ginseng and what is its price?

Ginseng supplements (capsules, tincture, powder) can be purchased at health food stores, health food stores, pharmacies, and online. Depending on the seller and the quality of the product, the price of ginseng can vary, but generally ranges from $ 15 to $ 40. Some specialty ginseng products can be priced significantly higher.

Does ginseng make you fat or lose weight?

Ginseng is not fattening, quite the opposite. Several studies have shown that it can help us lose weight when combined with a healthy lifestyle. Its ability to raise our energy levels, improve our physical performance, control stress levels and accelerate metabolism, among other benefits, contribute to greater fat burning and therefore weight loss. Many people have seen good results from including ginseng tea in their diet for several weeks.

Are ginseng and ginger the same?

Definitely not. Ginger root and ginseng root are not the same .

The ginger is different from any of the types of ginseng plant. The ginger root that we commonly see is the tuber of the Zingiber officinale plant. However, the term ginseng refers to a group of different plants included in the genus Panax of the Araliaceae family (Korean ginseng, American ginseng, Siberian ginseng); There are other plants that do not belong to this group but are also known as ginseng.

Although both roots can have several similar health benefits, they should not be used interchangeably. The therapeutic essence of ginger is anti-inflammatory and digestive, while ginseng acts more as a stimulant.

How do you choose the best ginseng?

Today ginseng is available in many forms, such as capsules, tablets, tea bags, powder, tinctures … and more. If you’re thinking of starting any of these supplements, here are some helpful tips for choosing the best ginseng :

  • Considering that the term ginseng refers to no more and no less than 11 different species, not all ginseng supplements are the same or come from the same root. It is important that before buying, you spend some time researching to recognize what type of ginseng you want to obtain .
  • Most ginseng supplements are processed and manufactured by companies. A good supplement should not be artificially processed, so you should look for labels that state that the supplement has been processed naturally , much better if it comes from an organic source.
  • Whenever possible, buy the product from a recognized brand .

Is it possible to overdose on American ginseng?

In general, American ginseng has a very high safety margin, but the truth is that there is no evidence that we can obtain great additional benefits by taking an amount greater than the recommended dose . On the other hand, taking too little ginseng will not produce the desired effect. The recommended dose of American ginseng for adults is 0.5 to 3 grams per day, and most people find 1 gram (1000 mg) per day to be effective.

How Can I Pick a Good American Ginseng Root?

When choosing a good ginseng root , you should look at two essential aspects:

  • Old enough. The age of ginseng is determined by the number of knots or rings in the area of ​​the root head; that is, the greater the number of rings, the greater their age.
  • General appearance. If areas of discoloration are observed, this indicates diseased roots and substandard ginseng. A healthy, good-quality ginseng tuber shows no discoloration. In case the ginseng has scratched skin but there is no discoloration, it is still considered a healthy root



My name is Louise Hammond, and I am the creator of this website, a place to find information about tubers, bulbs and medicinal roots. In I show the properties, benefits, characteristics, photos and images, ways of growing and how to make delicious meals from starchy vegetables.