Panax ginseng: the superior ginseng variety

Panax Ginseng: The Superior Ginseng Variety

Ginseng, known for its remarkable health benefits, is a group of plants belonging to the Panax genus. This genus is home to about 11 species, but the two most popular ones are Panax ginseng (also known as Korean ginseng) and Panax quinquefolius (American ginseng). 

The most prized among them all, however, is Panax ginseng, often considered the best form of ginseng.

The Origin of Panax Ginseng

Panax ginseng is native to the Korean peninsula and parts of China and Russia. Its traditional medicine use dates back to 5000 BC when the ancient Chinese discovered its healing properties. They believed this unique root could prolong life, maintain vitality, and increase wisdom (5).

Three Types of Ginseng: A Comparison

Let's begin with a comparison chart outlining the pros and cons of the three most popular types of ginseng: Panax ginseng, Panax quinquefolius, and Eleutherococcus senticosus (Siberian ginseng, not true ginseng).

Type Pros Cons
Panax Ginseng (Korean Ginseng) High in ginsenosides, traditionally used as an adaptogen to boost energy levels and immune system, reduces inflammation (1) Overconsumption can lead to side effects like headaches, insomnia, and digestive problems (2)
Panax Quinquefolius (American Ginseng) Known for its calming effects and commonly used to improve mental function (3) Less potent than Panax ginseng, fewer ginsenosides
Eleutherococcus Senticosus (Siberian Ginseng) Less expensive, helps endurance, stress, and overall quality of life (4) Not a true ginseng, less researched than Panax ginseng

 

Benefits of Ginseng

Ginseng, especially Panax ginseng, offers a range of health benefits backed by scientific research including:

  1. Boosts Immune System: Ginseng has been found to enhance the immune system, helping the body fight off infections and diseases (13). One study conducted on cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy showed improved immune functions when treated with ginseng (14).
  2. Enhances Cognitive Functions: Ginseng is known for its potential to enhance cognitive functions. According to a study, taking Panax ginseng for several weeks can improve mental performance in people with Alzheimer's disease (15). Another study found that healthy individuals who take Panax ginseng could improve their mental performance and feelings of calmness (16).
  3. Fights Fatigue and Enhances Physical Activity: Panax ginseng has been proven to help combat fatigue and promote energy in cancer patients and healthy individuals. A study found that individuals taking ginseng experienced less physical and mental fatigue and had lower oxidative stress levels (17).
  4. Improves Sexual Health in Men: Panax ginseng is often referred to as the 'herbal Viagra', as it may aid in erectile dysfunction. In a review of seven studies, men who took Panax ginseng showed improved erectile function more than those who took a placebo (18).
  5. Helps Manage Menopausal Symptoms: For women, ginseng can be beneficial during menopause. In a study of postmenopausal women, taking ginseng alleviated symptoms of menopause and improved well-being (19).
  6. Aids in Blood Sugar Control: Ginseng has shown potential in controlling blood sugar levels. Both American and Korean (a type of Panax) ginseng may help enhance blood sugar regulation in people with type 2 diabetes (20).
  7. Anti-Inflammatory Effects: Ginsenosides in ginseng have anti-inflammatory effects, according to test-tube studies. One test-tube study showed that ginsenosides could inhibit inflammation and increase antioxidant capacity in skin cells (21).

 Benefots of Panax Ginseng

Specific Benefits of Panax Ginseng

Panax ginseng is traditionally used in Asian countries for its beneficial properties. Its rich ginsenoside content allows it to act as an adaptogen, enhancing the body's ability to withstand stressors.

In addition to all the benefits in the previous section, Panax ginseng benefits include boosting energy levels, improving cognitive function, supporting heart health, and aiding in managing diabetes (1).

Complementary Herbs for Panax Ginseng

Several herbs can complement the benefits of Panax ginseng when used in tandem:

  1. Maca: This Peruvian plant boosts energy and endurance, synergizing with ginseng's adaptogenic properties (6)
  2. Ashwagandha: Another potent adaptogen, ashwagandha, supports stress management and complements ginseng's immune-enhancing effects (7).
  3. Fenugreek: Traditionally used to enhance libido, fenugreek pairs well with ginseng to improve overall vitality (8).
  4. Other herbs, such as Ginkgo Biloba, Schisandra, and Rhodiola, can also enhance ginseng's cognitive benefits (9).

You can find Panax Ginsengy, Maca, Ashwagandha, and Fenugreek in one place in Why Not Natural's shop.

Recommended Use of Panax Ginseng

A daily dose of up to 1-2 grams of dried Panax ginseng root is typically recommended for adults, although extracts can be more potent (10). One can consume ginseng in various forms: as tea, in soups, tinctures, capsules, or even chewed raw. 

It's often recommended to follow a cycle of consuming ginseng for a few weeks to a few months, followed by a break. 

Different Benefits for Men vs. Women

In men, Panax ginseng is known to support sexual health and improve erectile function (11). For women, it can help manage menopausal symptoms (12). In addition, both sexes may benefit from its overall immune-boosting, energy-enhancing, and cognitive-supporting properties.

Conclusion

Panax ginseng is the best form due to its higher ginsenoside content and many health benefits. In addition, its unique adaptogenic properties, energy-boosting effects, and compatibility with other beneficial herbs like maca and ashwagandha make it a versatile addition to any health regimen. 

References:

    1. Kim, H. J., Kim, P., & Shin, C. Y. (2013). A comprehensive review of the therapeutic and pharmacological effects of ginseng and ginsenosides in central nervous system. Journal of Ginseng Research, 37(1), 8–29. https://doi.org/10.5142/jgr.2013.37.8
    2. Seely D, Dugoua JJ, Perri D, et al. Safety and efficacy of Panax ginseng during pregnancy and lactation. Can J Clin Pharmacol. 2008;15(1):e87-94.
    3. Ossoukhova A, Owen L, Savage K, Meyer M, Ibarra A, Roller M, Pipingas A, Wesnes K, Scholey A. Improved working memory performance following administration of a single dose of American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius L.) to healthy middle-age adults. Hum Psychopharmacol. 2015 Mar;30(2):108-22. doi: 10.1002/hup.2463. Epub 2015 Mar 4. PMID: 25753322.
    4. Cicero, A. F. G., Derosa, G., Brillante, R., Bernardi, R., Nascetti, S., & Gaddi, A. (2004). Effects of Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus maxim.) on elderly quality of life: a randomized clinical trial. Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics. Supplement, (9), 69–73.
    5. Jia, L., Zhao, Y., & Liang, X. J. (2009). Current evaluation of the millennium phytomedicine--ginseng (I): etymology, pharmacognosy, phytochemistry, market and regulations. Current medicinal chemistry, 16(19), 2475–2484. https://doi.org/10.2174/092986709788682146
    6. Gonzales, G. F. (2012). Ethnobiology and Ethnopharmacology of Lepidium meyenii (Maca), a Plant from the Peruvian Highlands. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM, 2012, 193496. https://doi.org/10.1155/2012/193496
    7. Pratte, M. A., Nanavati, K. B., Young, V., & Morley, C. P. (2014). An alternative treatment for anxiety: a systematic review of human trial results reported for the Ayurvedic herb ashwagandha (Withania somnifera). The Journal of alternative and complementary medicine, 20(12), 901–908. https://doi.org/10.1089/acm.2014.0177
    8. Aswar, U., Bodhankar, S. L., & Mohan, V. (2010). Effect of furostanol glycosides from Trigonella foenum-graecum on the reproductive system of male albino rats. Phytotherapy research : PTR, 24(10), 1482–1488. https://doi.org/10.1002/ptr.3140
    9. Reay, J. L., Kennedy, D. O., & Scholey, A. B. (2006). Effects of Panax ginseng, consumed with and without glucose, on blood glucose levels and cognitive performance during sustained 'mentally demanding' tasks. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 20(6), 771–781. DOI: 10.1177/0269881106061516
    10. Ehrlich, S. D. (2015). Ginseng. University of Maryland Medical Center.
    11. de Andrade, E., de Mesquita, A. A., Claro, J. de A., de Andrade, P. M., Ortiz, V., Paranhos, M., & Srougi, M. (2007). Study of the efficacy of Korean Red Ginseng in the treatment of erectile dysfunction. Asian journal of andrology, 9(2), 241–244. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1745-7262.2007.00210.x
    12. Terauchi, M., Horiguchi, N., Kajiyama, A., Akiyoshi, M., Owa, Y., Kato, K., & Kubota, T. (2014). Effects of grape seed proanthocyanidin extract on menopausal symptoms, body composition, and cardiovascular parameters in middle-aged women: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study. Menopause (New York, N.Y.), 21(9), 990–996. https://doi.org/10.1097/GME.0000000000000200
    13. Lee, J., & Lee, E. (2016). Korean Red Ginseng (Panax ginseng) Enhances Physical Work Capacity in Mice. Journal of Exercise Nutrition & Biochemistry, 20(2), 43–49. https://doi.org/10.20463/jenb.2016.06.20.2.7
    14. Barton, D. L., Liu, H., Dakhil, S. R., et al. (2013). Wisconsin Ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) to Improve Cancer-Related Fatigue: A Randomized, Double-Blind Trial, N07C2. Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 105(16), 1230–1238. https://doi.org/10.1093/jnci/djt181
    15. Heo, J. H., Lee, S. T., Chu, K., Oh, M. J., Park, H. J., Shim, J. Y., Kim, M. (2008). An open-label trial of Korean red ginseng as an adjuvant treatment for cognitive impairment in patients with Alzheimer's disease. European Journal of Neurology, 15(8), 865-868. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-1331.2008.02231.x
    16. Reay, J. L., Kennedy, D. O., & Scholey, A. B. (2006). Effects of Panax ginseng, consumed with and without glucose, on blood glucose levels and cognitive performance during sustained 'mentally demanding' tasks. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 20(6), 771–781. DOI: 10.1177/0269881106061516
    17. Kim, H. G., Cho, J. H., Yoo, S. R., Lee, J. S., Han, J. M., Lee, N. H., Ahn, Y. C., Son, C. G. (2013). Antifatigue effects of Panax ginseng C.A. Meyer: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. PLoS ONE, 8(4), e61271. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0061271
    18. Jang, D. J., Lee, M. S., Shin, B. C., Lee, Y. C., & Ernst, E. (2008). Red ginseng for treating erectile dysfunction: a systematic review. British journal of clinical pharmacology, 66(4), 444–450. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2125.2008.03236.x
    19. Tode, T., Kikuchi, Y., Hirata, J., Kita, T., Nakata, H., & Nagata, I. (1999). Effect of Korean red ginseng on psychological functions in patients with severe climacteric syndromes. International Journal of Gynaecology and Obstetrics, 67(3), 169-174. https://doi.org/10.1016/s0020-7292(99)00147-0
    20. Shishtar, E., Sievenpiper, J. L., Djedovic, V., Cozma, A. I., Ha, V., Jayalath, V. H., Jenkins, D. J., Meija, S. B., de Souza, R. J., Jovanovski, E., & Vuksan, V. (2014). The effect of ginseng (the genus panax) on glycemic control: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled clinical trials. PLoS ONE, 9(9), e107391. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0107391
    21. Kim, J., Lee, S., Shim, J., Kim, H. W., Kim, J., Jang, Y. J., Yang, H., Park, J., Choi, S. H., Yoon, J. H., Kim, J. W., Lee, K. W., Lee, H. J. (2018). Functional impact of ginsenosides on activation of nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2): Detailed binding mode analysis at the atomic level. Journal of Ginseng Research, 42(3), 299-306. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jgr.2017.03.011
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