Asian ginseng is a herbal adaptogen used throughout the world for its many health benefits.
Asian ginseng has many different names, including Panax ginseng, Korean Ginseng, Red Ginseng, as well as Chinese Ginseng.
All of these names refer to the same herb.
In this article, we will look at the benefits of Asian ginseng, its safety, and its history.
Table of Contents
- Health Benefits of Asian Ginseng:
- Asian Ginseng Safety:
- Naming & Taxonomy:
- History & Traditional Use:
- Asian Ginseng vs. Other Herbs:
Health Benefits of Asian Ginseng:
Asian ginseng is one of the most studied herbs in the world. This large body of research, conducted on both animals and humans, shows the many benefits of Asian ginseng.
Some of this research confirms the traditional Chinese medical uses for this plant, and other studies suggest new applications for it.
Below are the top researched-backed Asian ginseng benefits for health.
1. Antioxidant Properties
Research shows that one of the primary benefits of Asian ginseng is its strong antioxidant properties.
Asian ginseng has strong antioxidant activity that has been shown to reduce inflammation within the body.
Various in vitro (i.e. test tube) studies have shown that red ginseng works at a cellular level to inhibit inflammation.
In particular, it appears that Asian ginseng is helpful for reducing inflammation in skin cells, which could be helpful for people struggling with eczema.
While the above-mentioned test-tube studies show the antioxidant benefits of red ginseng, there have been many positive human studies that have been conducted.
One study showed the effects of taking 2 grams of Korean red ginseng extract three times a day (6 grams total) for a week. The study participants were young college-age males.
After a week of taking the ginseng extract, the researchers noted that various post-workout inflammatory markers were lower in the placebo group.
This study is promising in that it shows the potential effects of red ginseng on reducing inflammation.
Another study consisting of 82 postmenopausal women showed that 3 grams daily of red ginseng extract helped to reduce oxidative stress and improve antioxidant activity.
As far as the mechanism of action, extensive studies show that ginsenosides (ginseng saponins) are the chief active constituents of ginseng with anti-inflammatory effects.
All of these studies show the promise of red Asian ginseng for helping to balance inflammation within the body.
Summary:Many studies show that Asian ginseng demonstrates powerful antioxidant properties through its anti-inflammatory abilities.
2. May Support The Immune System
Another benefit of Asian ginseng is its ability to support the immune system.
Ginseng has been extensively reported to maintain homeostasis of the immune system and enhance resistance to illness or microbial attacks through regulation of the immune system.
In a clinical trial with 20 healthy adults, Panax ginseng extract was shown to improve phagocytic activity, a key marker for immune system health.
Another study showed that children with compromised immune systems had decreased inflammatory cytokine markers after taking 60mg daily of Korean red ginseng extract over the course of one year.
Summary:Asian ginseng demonstrates the ability to improve immune system health and decrease inflammatory cytokine markers.
3. May Improve Blood Pressure
Research shows that Asian ginseng benefits heart health by helping to normalize blood pressure levels.
Certain constituents in red ginseng, primarily ginsenoside Rg3, have been shown in test tube studies to normalize blood pressure.
It’s thought to work through a process known as vasorelaxation. This involves the relaxation of the tension in blood vessel walls, which works to balance blood pressure.
While cellular studies have been promising, there have also been positive human studies as well.
A study involving 26 individuals with hypertension showed that 4.5 grams daily of red ginseng worked to significantly reduce systolic blood pressure (Han et al, 1998).
Not all studies show conclusive positive results.
A study involving 80 individuals with hypertension showed that consuming an extract of 3 grams daily of Korean red ginseng did not have a significant impact of reducing arterial stiffness.
A recent analysis paper noted that the dosing and form of Asian ginseng are important for having positive health outcomes, especially when it comes to hypotensive individuals.
Summary:Research indicates that Asian ginseng can reduce blood pressure, thought to work through the process of vasorelaxation.
4. May Support Heart Health
In line with its blood pressure-supporting properties, Panax ginseng also has been looked into for its ability to improve cardiac function.
Animal and test-tube studies show that Asian ginseng may work to inhibit cardiac hypertrophy.
It also appears to help reduce lack of blood flow.
Compounds within red ginseng have also been shown to increase cardiac protection through nitric oxide production.
Summary:Asian ginseng has been found to support cardiac function by improving blood flow and reducing cardiac hypertrophy.
5. Antimicrobial Properties
Asian ginseng has strong antibacterial activity.
It’s been shown to be active against H. pylori, P. aeruginosa, S. aureus, P. gingivalis, L. monocytogenes, B. cereus, and S. pneumoniae.
Ginseng has been shown to have bactericidal activity, inhibits of DNA mutagenesis, has anti-quorum sensing and anti-adhesive activity, and demonstrates a protective role against pathogen-induced inflammation.
Summary:Asian ginseng shows evidence of having several properties necessary for fighting pathogens and bacteria in the body.
6. May Help Support Weight Loss
Asian ginseng is one of the best adaptogens for weight loss.
In a clinical review on ginseng and weight loss, researchers mentioned that ginseng contains ginsenosides which are thought to help regulate appetite. Additionally, it’s been shown that ginseng may have the ability to reduce blood sugar levels by encouraging muscles to utilize carbohydrates.
In a clinical study involving obese middle-aged women, ginseng extract was shown to have a weight loss effect. It’s thought that this is due to ginseng’s ability to support a bacteria shift in the gut.
An animal study involving obese mice found that ginseng extract has an anti-obesity effect. It’s thought that this is due to the delay of fat absorption by the intestines.
Summary:Research suggests that Asian ginseng can support weight loss by reducing blood glucose levels, encouraging energy utilization, and shifting gut bacteria.
7. May Promote Energy
Asian ginseng has been shown to improve energy levels and decrease fatigue.
A study conducted in 2014 involving patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) found that Asian ginseng increased respiratory endurance by improving lung function. Lung health is important as increased oxygen intake increases endurance and allows for a higher output of energy.
In one research review, researchers noted that Asian ginseng promoted mental clarity and performance, and had an anti-fatigue effect after repeated administration.
Summary:Research shows evidence of Asian ginseng being able to promote mental energy and endurance. Additional human clinical studies are needed for confirmation of these findings.
8. Other Benefits
Other purported benefits of Asian ginseng include:
• May Help with Asthma: In one animal study, Asian ginseng was capable of improving allergy-induced asthma by reducing asthmatic symptoms and reducing inflammation. It was also noted that Asian ginseng was able to modify the immune response and improve airway constriction and hyperresponsiveness. In another animal study investigating the use of ginsenoside Rh2, which is an active constituent of Asian ginseng, researchers found that this herb was able to decrease the severity of the pro-inflammatory response in the airway.
•May Promote Hair Growth: In a clinical trial conducted in 2012, 50 study participants with spot baldness were divided into two groups. One group was treated with just intralesional corticosteroid injections and the other group was treated with both intralesional corticosteroid injections and red ginseng extract. By the end of a 12-week period, the group treated with ginseng experienced a significant increase in both hair thickness and density. This study shows ginseng’s potential as a natural remedy for hair loss.
Summary:Although human clinical research is required to confirm these findings, Asian ginseng shows potential for reducing the inflammation and narrowing of the airway.
Asian Ginseng Safety:
Safety Class: 1 (safe to consume when used appropriately)
Interaction Class: A (no clinically relevant reactions are expected)
Asian ginseng is generally well tolerated and safe to use. There are no known contraindications for this herb.
A safety study conducted in 2012 showed that taking Asian ginseng daily was safe, tolerable, and free of any untoward toxic effect in healthy male and female volunteers.
It is noted that taking Panax ginseng with stimulants is not advised as overstimulation can occur, especially for sensitive individuals.
Pregnancy & Lactation:
Two retrospective studies on Asian ginseng usage by pregnant women showed no adverse effects on the mother or child. In fact, it’s quite common in traditional Chinese medicine practice to recommend Asian ginseng for expecting mothers.
No studies have been conducted on the safety of Asian ginseng during lactation. While no concerns have been identified while nursing, safety has not been conclusively established.
Tincture (1:5): 1–2 mL (20–40 drops), up to three times per day.
Decoction: Take 1–2 tsp. of the ground herb or one root (chopped) in 12 oz. water. Slowly simmer (in a nonmetal pot) for ½ hour. Let steep for an additional hour. Take up to two cups per day.
Capsule: Powdered herb in capsules, two 400–500mg capsules, two to three times per day; powdered extract, one 400–500mg capsule, twice per day.
Naming & Taxonomy:
Ginseng (Panax ginseng) is an important plant in East Asia, where nearly every species has been employed medicinally.
The Chinese name for Panax ginseng is ren shen, which translates as “man root”. In ancient texts it was credited with supplementing the five yin organs, calming the shen (mind, consciousness), and pacifying the hun (ethereal soul) and po (corporeal soul).
In 1883, the Russian botanist Carl Anton Meyer named the genus “Panax”, in which pan means “all” and axos means “cure.”
Asian ginseng is a bushy plant that can reach up to two meters in height. It has pointy leaves and produces orange berries that ripen from July until September.
It’s a shade plant that prefers a cool and dry climate, like that of Korea (the 2nd leading producer of red ginseng, behind China).
Ginseng is globally distributed throughout 35 countries in various forms following processing via drying, steaming, and heating.
It should be noted that Asian ginseng is very different as compared to American ginseng. Click here to learn the difference.
History & Traditional Use:
In China and Korea, the plant has been utilized for over 2,000 years as a tonic, a stimulant, and to foster stress resistance.
There are many different traditional uses for this herb. Ginseng is used in Korea to treat malaria, hysteria, alcoholism, and acute gastritis and as an aid in convalescence from serious illness.
In Japan, Asian ginseng is used for diarrhea, dyspepsia, vomiting, coughs, and diabetes.
In Hong Kong, the root is used to treat drunkenness, dizziness, amnesia, and general weakness.
Additionally, Asian ginseng is considered the most stimulating adaptogenic herb. Thus, it has been frequently recommended for weak, deficient, or exhausted people. It is especially indicated for elderly people (aged seventy-plus years old) who are tired, feel cold, and have poor circulation and a lack of vitality.
Asian ginseng contains a range of triterpenoid saponins known as ginsenosides or panaxosides, as well as panaxanes.
It’s also noted that red ginseng contains gintonin, polysaccharides, polypeptides, and glycoconjugate compounds (Im & Nah, 2013).
Adaptogen (stimulating), anti-asthmatic, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, cardiotonic (mild), immune amphoteric, nootropic.
Asian Ginseng vs. Other Herbs:
Ginseng is often compared with many other different types of herbs. We have put together helpful articles going over the most common comparisons.
- American Ginseng vs. Ginger
- American Ginseng vs Eleuthero
- American Ginseng vs. Rhodiola
- Asian Ginseng vs American Ginseng
- Asian Ginseng vs. Maca
Asian Ginseng has been used for centuries as an adaptogen to help combat the effects of stress and improve endurance.
But does it work?
The answer is yes, according to research studies that show how red ginseng can increase heart health, lower blood pressure, strengthen your immune system, and act as a powerful antioxidant.
If you’re looking for more energy or better immunity during this cold winter season (or anytime!), consider adding a high-quality Asian ginseng supplement to your list.
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