American ginseng, also known as Panax quinquefolius, is a herbal adaptogen that is well known for its numerous health benefits.
Research has discovered that this herb may support blood sugar, heart health, and inflammation reduction. It may even help with tumor prevention.
Ginseng is a popular herb that has been used in North America for hundreds of years. Studies have shown it may help to improve the functions of the nervous, cardiovascular, and immune systems.
Newer research shows that it may also have anti-cancer and antimicrobial properties.
In this article, we will look at American ginseng and its uses.
Table of Contents
- Health Benefits of American Ginseng:
- American Ginseng Safety:
- Naming & Taxonomy:
- History & Traditional Use:
- Herbal Actions:
- American Ginseng vs. Other Herbs:
Health Benefits of American Ginseng:
Due to the variety of benefits of American ginseng, it’s one of the most widely used herbs in the world.
We’ll dig into its various benefits below:
1. May Improve Cognitive Function
American ginseng may be one of the best herbs for brain function.
Animal studies show that ginseng extract helped to improve learning and memory function in mice with Alzheimer-like syndrome.
Summary:Both human and animal studies show evidence of American ginseng being helpful for improving brain health, specifically in regard to memory and learning.
2. May Improve Heart Health
American ginseng may be a beneficial herb for cardiovascular health.
An animal study showed that American ginseng helped to reduce the force at which the heart had to work, while at the same time maintaining the same blood pressure.
Another study observed that a single dose of ginseng extract depressed the cardiac contractile function in rats, resulting in a reduced heart rate maintained for the following 24 hours.
Summary:Animal trials indicate that American ginseng may be useful in promoting heart health. Additional human clinical studies are needed to cofirm these findings.
3. May Improve Blood Sugar
American ginseng may be an effective herb for reducing blood sugar and increasing glucose uptake.
A human clinical trial showed that American ginseng taken with a meal helped to reduce blood sugar spikes by ~20% in both diabetic and non-diabetic individuals.
An animal study found that ginseng consumption worked to reduce oxidative stress in mice. This antioxidant effect is thought to be one of the mechanisms by which ginseng works to support healthy blood sugar levels.
This was further proved by in vitro research that showed that American ginseng berry extract has antioxidant properties.
Summary:According to research, American ginseng may increase glucose uptake and reduce oxidative stress, which both promote healthy blood sugar levels. More human research is needed for confirmation.
4. Anti-Aging Properties
American ginseng may have properties that promote healthy aging.
No controlled clinical trials have been done on the effect of ginseng on life expectancy.
That said, many studies show that ginseng might have an effect on both the chronological and biological aspects of aging, due to its antioxidant properties.
Summary:American ginseng may be beneficial in supporting aspects of aging. Additional research is needed to verify this finding.
5. Antimicrobial Properties
American ginseng is indicative of having antimicrobial effects.
Research shows that many of the different phytochemical compounds found in American ginseng have antimicrobial properties.
One study, in particular, showed that ginsenosides (a compound found in ginseng) possessed anti-staphylococcal activity. This study also noted that the leaves, roots, and hairy root cultures found in American ginseng are all a source of antimicrobial compounds.
Summary:Studies show that the compounds found in American ginseng may promote this herb’s antimicrobial properties. Further human trials are needed for confirmation.
6. Anti-Cancer Properties
American ginseng may be a beneficial herb for cancer.
Ginsenoside Rh2 is one of the main compounds found in ginseng root. This phytochemical has been found to exert a strong anti-tumor effect on colorectal cancer HCT116 cell line.
There are a number of other in vitro and animal-based studies that show promise for ginseng and cancer, especially colorectal cancer.
A human clinical trial showed that patients with cancer-related fatigue who took ginseng had improved energy levels. Several preclinical trials may partly explain this effect as ginseng can work to down-regulate inflammatory pathways, decrease inflammation, and modulate cortisol levels in experimental animals and cell cultures.
Summary:Trials have found that American ginseng may have an anti-cancer effect and may work to reduce cancer-related fatigue. Human clinical research is required.
American Ginseng Safety:
Safety Class: 1 (safe to consume when used appropriately).
Interaction Class: B (some drug interactions are biologically plausible).
High doses of American ginseng altered the effects of the medication warfarin (Coumadin®), while smaller doses did not. Thus, if you take blood-thinning medication, you may want to stay away from taking American ginseng, or do so under the supervision of a healthcare professional.
It should be noted that there have been some reported allergic reactions to American ginseng.
Aside from potential Warfarin interaction, American ginseng is generally well tolerated and safe.
Pregnancy & Lactation:
No information on the safety of this herb in pregnancy or lactation was identified in the scientific or traditional literature.
Although this review did not identify any concerns for use while pregnant or nursing, safety has not been conclusively established.
Tincture (1:5): 3–5 mL (60–100 drops), three times per day.
Decoction: Take 1–2 tsp. dried cut/sifted root to 12 oz. water. Gently simmer for ½ hour, then steep for an additional ½ hour. Take 4 oz. three times per day.
Capsule: Two 500 mg capsules, twice per day.
Naming & Taxonomy:
The word “panax” is derived from the Greek ‘Panakos’ (panacea), in reference to the various benefits attributed to it by the Chinese, who consider it a useful herb for a variety of health complaints.
The word “ginseng” is said to mean “the wonder of the world”.
American ginseng is part of the Araliaceae family of plants. This family of plants contains the ivies and a few other types of popular plants.
History & Traditional Use:
American ginseng has a long history of use by Native Americans. It was used in Cherokee medicine for shortness of breath, coughing, digestive upset, headaches, convulsions, fatigue, female reproductive problems, and general weakness (Banks, 2004).
The Seminole people of Florida call this herb “white medicine” and use it to support sexual function, for treating coughs, as a general tonic, and topically for arthritis, boils, sore eyes, earaches, and gunshot wounds.
The Iroquois use ginseng root to stop vomiting, for lack of appetite, as a mild stimulant, for fevers and asthma, and like the Seminole, topically for sores, earaches, and painful eyes.
The ethnobotanical literature suggests that ginseng root or leaf has been used by various Native American tribes for a variety of health complaints. It was also said to enhance the power of other herbs in difficult-to-treat cases.
From a Western Medicine standpoint, P. quinquefolius was “discovered” In 1716 by father Joseph-François Lafitau, a Jesuit priest in Canada. He stumbled across American ginseng growing in the woods near Montreal. He recognized the plant from descriptions of the related Panax ginseng (i.e. Chinese Ginseng) written about by Jesuit priests living in China.
The discovery of this “panacea” started the export of American ginseng to China, a trade that continues to this day.
Much of the ginseng that’s grown in the US is grown in central Wisconsin, which has the perfect soil and elevation for producing top-grade P. quinquefolius roots.
The active constituents include triterpene saponins, known as ginsenosides or panaxosides. The bitter taste comes from its sesquiterpene content.
Adaptogen, antioxidant, bitter tonic, mild central nervous system stimulant, mild demulcent (soothes mucous membranes), hypoglycemic agent, immune amphoteric.
American Ginseng vs. Other Herbs:
American ginseng is a well-known herb that has many health benefits and can be used in a variety of ways.
It’s been traditionally used as an herbal tea, but also comes in pill form or even liquid drops to help with energy, stress, and more.
Not only does this root have a long history of use by Native Americans, but its popularity today shows how beneficial it can be!
It is recommended that you consult your primary healthcare physician before adding any new herbs or supplements to your diet.
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