Asian ginseng

The root of Panax ginseng , which is known as Korean or Asian ginseng, is a valuable and an important folk medicine in East Asian countries, including China, Korea, and Japan, for more than 2000 years. Panax is derived from the word “panacea,” which means a cure for all diseases and a source of longevity as well as physical strength and resistance. Asian ginseng is one of several types of true ginseng (another is American ginseng, Panax quinquefolius). The herb called Siberian ginseng or eleuthero (Eleutherococcus senticosus) is not a true ginseng.

Traditional and folk uses of ginseng:

-support overall health

-boost the immune system

-improving the health of people recovering from illness

-increasing a sense of well-being and stamina

-improving both mental and physical performance

-treating erectile dysfunction, hepatitis C, and symptoms related to menopause

-lowering blood glucose

-controlling blood pressure

-cancer

-diabetes (It was observed that oral administration of P. ginseng root had the ability to improve insulin resistance; It is suggested that ginseng is useful for the prevention of diabetes in healthy people and for improved glycemic control in type 2 diabetes patients (Luo and Luo 2008).

-cardiovascular diseases

-promoting central nervous system (CNS) function (Ginsenoside, the active principle in P. ginseng root, has been demonstrated to show both neurotrophic effects in memory and learning and neuroprotective actions for the prevention of neuron degeneration.)

-relieving stress

-and for its antioxidant activities

 It is also believed:

-to boost sexual performance

-slow down the rate at which Alzheimer’s gets worse

The root of Asian ginseng contains active chemical components called ginsenosides (or panaxosides) that are thought to be responsible for the herb’s claimed medicinal properties. Almost 50 ginsenosides have been isolated from P. ginseng root (white and red ginsengs), and novel structures continue to be identified. The root is dried and used to make tablets or capsules, extracts, and teas, and creams or other preparations for external use. The pharmacological and clinical usages ginsenosides, are discussed in relation to its anticancer, antidiabetes, immunomodulatory functions, and improving CNS functions including learning, memory, and neurodegenerative diseases.

Ginseng contains other valuable components: essential oils, antioxidants, polyacetylenic alcohols, peptides, amino acids, polysaccharides, and vitamins. Ginseng polysaccharides have also been a target of chemical and biological research, because plant polysaccharides generally show antitumor effects through modulation of innate immunity.

Possible side effects: headaches, sleep and gastrointestinal problems. Short-term use of ginseng at recommended doses appears to be safe for most people. Some sources suggest that prolonged use might cause side effects. Asian ginseng may lower levels of blood sugar therefore, people with diabetes should use extra caution with Asian ginseng, especially if they are using medicines to lower blood sugar or taking other herbs, such as bitter melon and fenugreek, that are also thought to lower blood sugar.

You shouldn’t take Asian ginseng if you suffer one of the following conditions:high blood pressure, bipolar disorder, autoimmune disease, fever, inflammation, breast cancer, strong menstruation. Pregnant or breastfeeding women should not take Asian ginseng. –Sources: 1.NCCAM, 2. NCBI,Bookshelf ID: NBK92776, Jae Joon Wee, Kyeong Mee Park, and An-Sik Chung:Biological Activities of Ginseng and Its Application to Human Health, photo: Pixabay