Ginseng supplements are what is known as an adaptogen. While adaptogens are yet to be fully recognized by western medicines, they are said to assist the body in coping with physical and mental stress; hence the name. Put simply; they help the body adapt.
There are several different forms of ginseng supplement on the market. It can be found as an oral capsule, a liquid tincture, an extract powder, tea, or as a topical cream. The most popular ginseng supplements are the tablets and capsules.
You can use the herbal extract by itself or find it combined with different natural ingredients like ginkgo biloba, ginger, vinpocetine, royal jelly, and others. Ginseng supplements can be purchased online, and they can be found in many different health product stores.
Types of Ginseng Supplements
There are three main varieties of ginseng; Asian Ginseng, American Ginseng, and Siberian Ginseng. Only the Asian and American varieties of ginseng supplements have the bioactive molecule ginsenosides in them.
Siberian ginseng comes from a different plant genus than American and Asian ginseng. The botanical name of this genus is Eleutherococcus senticosus. It doesn’t have any of the ginsenosides that you would expect with other kinds of ginseng. Instead of this, it does have something similar known as eleutherosides.
Ginsenosides are classed as steroid glycosides and triterpene saponins. These are compounds that trigger biological effects across the whole body.
Asian and American ginseng supplements have different concentrations of the eight major ginsenosides. It’s thanks to these different molecular makeups that they are used for a range of different therapeutic purposes. Even so, they tend to have similar effects. Just different concentrations of these effects.
Asian ginseng supplements, for example, have more of the Rg1 ginsenoside than American ginseng supplements. Rg1 1 is known to stimulate the central nervous system, helping to combat fatigue and improve mental performance.
By comparison, American ginseng is beneficial for calming the central nervous system rather than stimulating it. It’s used to stabilize moods and to improve immunity. This kind of ginseng is also used to combat colds and flu.
1. Asian Ginseng Supplements
Asian ginseng is known by the botanical name Panax Ginseng. This is the species of Panax that has been studied the most. There are several other names for Asian ginseng such as Chinese Ginseng, Korean Ginseng, and “true” ginseng.
The Natural Medicines database suggests a number of uses of Asian ginseng supplements. The supplements are commonly used for:
- Improving overall well-being, immune function, stamina, and stress resistance
- Improving cognitive function including concentration and memory
- Preventing and treating neurodegenerative disorders such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease
- Helping alleviate anxiety and treat depression
- Decreasing both physical and mental fatigue
- Preventing cancers such as skin, lung, liver, breast, and ovarian
Common Medical Uses
There are other reported benefits of Asian ginseng include treating COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), erectile dysfunction, prediabetes, type 2 diabetes mellitus, HIV/AIDS, asthma, chronic bronchitis, colitis, dysentery, the common cold, appetite loss, wrinkles, convulsion, and even more. The uses are practically endless.
Asian ginseng supplements have shown to be potential cardioprotective agents. P. ginseng has antihypertensive effects that could be used to support heart health and overall cardiovascular function. The herb is also able to improve lipid levels. It does this by reducing overall levels of LDL cholesterol and potentially protecting against heart disease.
There is plenty of research being done on Asian ginseng supplements to look into their ability to prevent cancer. Preliminary research has shown that compounds within Asian ginseng could potentially inhibit the proliferation (replication) of cancer cells, including apoptosis (natural cell death), mitigate DNA damage, and have immunomodulatory effects.
Asian ginseng is used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for several thousand years and is used for a range of different therapeutic purposes.
While Asian ginseng has received the most researched form of ginseng, there haven’t been that many large-scale human trials performed. The clinical evidence available is not enough to support or prove the claims about traditional uses for the herb.
2. American Ginseng Supplements
The roots of American ginseng that are used in supplements are taken from Panax quinquefolius. As has been mentioned, they have different concentrations of the eight primary ginsenosides when compared to Asian ginseng.
American ginseng would first enter China as an export during the 1700s. Chinese medicine differentiates the two forms of ginseng by saying that Asian ginseng is considered to be a “hot” tonic that stimulates the body, while American ginseng is a “cold” tonic that relaxes it.
There has been some human researched performed on P. quinquefolius to assess it. The research shows that there is some therapeutic potential to the herb. American ginseng supplements or example may help to boost immune system function and help one stay healthy. The herb could also be used as an antioxidant and improve inflammatory conditions and diseases. Many people are embracing the healing power of antioxidants, which is one reason ginseng is becoming more popular.
Many believe that American ginseng supplements are able to normalize a range of bodily functions. In particular, they are used for conditions caused by psychological stress. There are some non-specific benefits the supplements are used for, including synthesizing and utilizing regulatory hormones.
Ginseng Supplement Side Effects
Most people should have no problem tolerating Asian ginseng supplements. Even so, there are some reported cases of people have difficulty and suffering from adverse side effects. When it comes to this supplement, the most common side effect experienced is trouble sleeping or insomnia. This is likely due to the stimulating effects of the supplement. Taking the supplement early in the day should be enough to avoid this effect.
Some other – rare – side effects seen with the use of the supplement are high blood pressure (hypertension), low blood pressure (hypotension), breast pain, vaginal bleeding, diarrhea, decreased appetites, mood disruption, and headaches.
Asian ginseng supplements should not be given to infants or children. Always consult your doctor before taking ginseng supplements. Let them know about your medicine usage and your health history. They will be able to tell you a recommended dosage or, in the event that your body would not be able to handle it safely, recommend an alternative supplement.
As with Asian ginseng, most people should be able to tolerate oral administration of American ginseng. Some users to report suffering from headaches, but rarely anything more.
Panax quinquefolius is considered safe to use for some children and has been used for children between the ages of 3 and 17 years old safely. It is considered to be potentially unsafe for pregnant and nursing women, however. Animal research has uncovered certain teratogenic effects as well. Once again, consult with your physician if you aren’t sure about your ability to handle it.
While Panax ginseng and Panax quinquefolius have long-since been used in traditional medicine, there has yet to be much official clinical research on the herb. It is proven that both of the herbs have different levels of bioactive ginsenosides, however.
Generally speaking, ginseng supplements are considered to be effective for increasing energy and supporting feelings of well-being. Consult your doctor and seek their advice before taking any form of ginseng – or indeed any supplement – to treat a medical condition.