Ginseng vs. Ginger: 3 Key Similarities & Differences

Ginseng and ginger are two herbs that are often compared due to their ability to support health. These two popular herbs are well known in traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for …

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Written by: Daniel Powers, MS
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Ginseng and ginger are two herbs that are often compared due to their ability to support health.

These two popular herbs are well known in traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for their abilities to help the body in different ways.

However, there are significant distinctions between these plants that you should be aware of before making a selection.

In this article, we’ll dig into the key differences of ginseng vs. ginger, as well as their similarities.

ginseng vs ginger compared

Ginseng Overview & Uses:

Ginseng is a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and herbal adaptogen that has been used for millennia. In TCM, ginseng is regarded as an essential herb for increasing daily energy and overall longevity.

It should be stated that there are two different types of ginseng, American Ginseng (panax quinquefolius) and Asian Ginseng (Panax ginseng). You can read our in-depth article about the differences between American Ginseng and Asian Ginseng here.

These two varieties of ginseng, although different, provide comparable health benefits, so we’ll combine them together in this article in our ginseng overview.

Clinical research shows that ginseng may provide a variety of benefits, including brain health, antimicrobial properties, and blood pressure.

1. May Support Cognitive Function

Ginseng has long been recognized for its neuroprotective effects.

A recent literature review showed that ginseng is supportive of neurological health, especially for aging adults.

A clinical trial found that Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng) has an effect on mild cognitive impairment. The study participants had an improvement in immediate memory recall, as well as 20-minute delayed recall.

2. Antimicrobial Properties

Research indicates that ginseng contains phytochemicals that are both antibacterial and antifungal.

Lab research shows that ginseng contains a class of phytochemicals known as “Ginsenosides” which have anti-staphylococcal activity.

Another study found that ginseng plays a protective role against bacterial infection.

3. May Balance Blood Pressure

The phytochemicals in Asian ginseng, primarily ginsenoside Rg3, have been shown in lab studies to normalize blood pressure. 

Researchers believe that ginseng works through a process known as vasorelaxation. This involves the relaxation of the tension in blood vessel walls, which works to balance blood pressure.

A human clinical trial involving 26 individuals with high blood pressure showed that 4.5 grams daily of ginseng worked to significantly reduce systolic blood pressure.

4. May Support Weight Loss

One clinical study shows that ginseng may help to reduce body weight.

In a clinical trial looking at the effect of ginseng on gut health and weight loss, researchers found that ginseng can help with weight loss. The researchers noted that ginseng’s anti-obesity effects differed depending on the composition of gut microbiota prior to ginseng intake.

Learn more about the benefits of ginseng here.

Ginger Overview & Uses:

Ginger is a spice native to Southeast Asia that has long been used in cooking. It’s one of the healthiest (and most flavorful) spices around.

Ginger belongs to the Zingiberaceae family, the same family as turmeric and cardamom.

Fresh, dried, powdered, or as an oil or juice, ginger is available in a variety of forms. It’s popular both as a supplement and as an ingredient in a variety of foods.

Research shows that ginger may provide a variety of benefits, including helping to settle the stomach, reducing inflammation, and weight loss.

1. May Help With Nausea

Research indicates that ginger is highly effective against nausea.

It may help relieve nausea and vomiting for people undergoing certain types of surgery.

One clinical trial showed that ginger helped to reduce instances of vomiting and nausea in individuals undergoing surgery.

It may, however, be the most successful when it comes to nausea related to pregnancy, such as morning sickness.

A meta-analysis of 12 studies involving over 1,200 women found that 1-1.5 grams daily of ginger can significantly reduce symptoms of nausea. However, this study indicated that ginger consumption did not reduce the occurrence of vomiting.

2. Anti-Inflammatory Properties

Research shows that gingerol, a constituent found in ginger, has the ability to reduce inflammation.

Gingerol is a natural oil that helps to give ginger its unique fragrance and flavor.

This phytochemical has both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

Gingerol is thought to help the body through a variety of different processes, including apoptosis, cell cycle regulation, cytotoxic activity, and inhibition of angiogenesis.

3. May Support Weight Loss

Research indicates that ginger may play a role in weight loss.

A recent literature review noted that ginger supplementation worked to reduce body weight, waist-hip ratio, and hip ratio in overweight individuals.

A clinical trial involving 80 obese women found that ginger helped to reduce blood insulin levels and body mass index (BMI). It’s thought that high blood insulin levels contribute to obesity. In the study, the participants received high doses of ginger (2 grams daily) for 12 weeks

Similarities Between Ginger & Ginseng:

When it comes to comparing ginger vs. ginseng, there are many similarities between these two herbs.

First off, for each of these herbs, the root portion is part that is used medicinally. Also, these herbs grow in a similar region of the world (i.e. Asia).

Secondly, it appears that both of these herbs may help to support weight loss. It should be noted that nutrition and exercise guidelines should be followed if attempting to lose excess bodyweight.

Third, both ginger and ginseng have anti-inflammatory properties. Ginger has a stronger anti-inflammatory profile, but ginseng holds its own.

Differences Between Ginger vs. Ginseng:

There are many differences between ginseng and ginger.

Ginger is primarily used to help to settle the stomach and reduce nausea. It also has a strong anti-inflammatory action, which is helpful for those who are looking to balance inflammation in the body.

Ginger also has a strong nutritional profile as it is high in:

  • vitamin C
  • vitamin B6
  • micronutrients like magnesium, potassium, copper, manganese
  • and various phytochemicals and polyphenols

Ginseng on the other hand is used more for energizing the body. It’s also used for supporting healthy aging. It also appears to have a number of secondary benefits, including antimicrobial properties, as well as helping to support weight loss.

Ginseng’s various phytochemicals, including ginsenosides, appear to have strong anti-inflammatory properties.

Ginseng vs. Ginger: Which is right for you?

You can think of ginger as an anti-inflammatory herb with the ability to settle your stomach and reduce nausea. Its ability to aid in weight loss is more of a secondary benefit.

Whereas ginseng is more of a stimulating herb that can help improve your physical energy and cognitive function. It also has the ability to help to reduce inflammation and support weight loss, but these are secondary attributes.

Can You Take Ginger and Ginseng Together?

Yes, you can take ginger and ginseng together.

These herbs do not have any known negative interactions when taken together.

In fact, these herbs may be a good combination for reducing inflammation and supporting weight loss.

Potential Side Effects & Interactions:

Herbs, like everything else, have the ability to interact negatively in your body.

Ginseng is typically well-tolerated, especially at low-to-moderate doses.

However, it’s been noted by researchers that high doses of ginseng can interfere with how your body utilizes the medication warfarin. If you take blood-thinning drugs, like Coumadin®, it’s best to avoid taking ginseng.

You can find a full Asian ginseng safety profile here.

Ginger is also typically well-tolerated and safe to consume.

As with all herbal supplements, it’s best to run them by your personal doctor for feedback prior to ingestion.

Conclusion:

As you can see, both of these herbs are generally well tolerated and safe to consume.

If you’re trying to decide between ginger vs. ginseng, consider taking a few weeks to experiment with each herb for yourself before making your final decision.

You might find that one works better than the other or vice versa! Or, try them together and see if you get a synergistic effect.

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About Daniel Powers, MS

Daniel has a master's degree in herbal science from the Maryland University of Integrative Health. He has a passion for herbal medicine and how it can be used to support everyday health & wellness.

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