9 Proven Ginseng Benefits
1. Improves Mood and Reduces Stress
A study done at the Brain Performance and Nutrition Research Centre in the United Kingdom involved 30 volunteers who were given three rounds of treatments of ginseng and placebo. The study was done to gather data about ginseng’s ability to improve mood and mental function. (1) The results found that 200 milligrams of ginseng for eight days slowed the fall in mood, but also slowed the participants’ response to mental arithmetic. The 400 milligram dose improved calmness and improved mental arithmetic for the duration of the eight-day treatment.
Another study done at the Division of Pharmacology at the Central Drug Research Institute tested the effects of Panax ginseng on rats with chronic stress and found that it has significant anti-stress properties and can be used for the treatment of stress-induced disorders. (2) The 100 milligram dose of Panax ginseng reduced the ulcer index, adrenal gland weight and plasma glucose levels — making it a powerful medicinal options for chronic stress and a great ulcer natural remedy and way to heal adrenal fatigue.
2. Improves Brain Function
Ginseng stimulates brain cells and improves concentration and cognitive activities. Evidence shows that taking Panax ginseng root daily for 12 weeks can improve mental performance in people with Alzheimer’s disease. One study done at the Department of Neurology at the Clinical Research Institute in South Korea investigated the effectiveness of ginseng on the cognitive performance of patients with Alzheimer’s disease. (3) After ginseng treatment, the participants showed improvements, and this upscale trend continued for three months. After discontinuing ginseng treatment, the improvements declined to the levels of the control group.
This suggest ginseng works as an Alzheimer’s natural treatment. Although more research on this topic is needed, one preliminary study found that a combination of American ginseng and ginkgo biloba helps naturally remedy ADHD.
3. Has Anti-Inflammatory Properties
An interesting study done in Korea measured the beneficial effects of Korean red ginseng on children after chemotherapy or stem cell transplantation for advanced cancer. (4) The study included 19 patients who received 60 milligrams of Korean red ginseng daily for one year. Blood samples were collected every six months, and as a result of the treatment, the cytokines, or small proteins that are responsible for sending signals to the brain and regulating cell growth, decreased rapidly, which was a significant difference from the control group. This study suggests that Korean red ginseng has a stabilizing effect of the inflammatory cytokines in children with cancer after chemotherapy.
A 2011 study published in the American Journal of Chinese Medicine done on rats also measured the impact that Korean red ginseng has on inflammatory cytokines; After giving rats 100 milligrams of Korean red ginseng extract for seven days, the ginseng proved to significantly reduce the extent of inflammation — the root of most diseases — and it improved the damage that was already done to the brain. (5)
Another animal study measured ginseng’s anti-inflammatory benefits. Korean red ginseng was tested for its anti-allergic properties on 40 mice with allergic rhinitis, a common upper airway inflammatory disease typically seen in children and adults; The most frequent symptoms include congestion, nasal itching and sneezing. At the end of the trial, the Korean red ginseng reduced the nasal allergic inflammatory reaction in the mice, showcasing ginseng’s place among the best anti-inflammatory foods. (6)
4. Helps with Weight Loss
Another surprising ginseng benefit is its ability to work as a natural appetite suppressant. It also boosts your metabolism and helps the body burn fat at a faster rate. A study done at the Tang Center for Herbal Medicine Research in Chicago measured the anti-diabetic and anti-obesity effects of Panax ginseng berry in adult mice; The mice were injected with 150 milligrams of ginseng berry extract per kilogram of body weight for 12 days. By day five, the mice taking the ginseng extract had significantly lower fasting blood glucose levels. After day 12, the glucose tolerance in the mice increased and overall blood glucose levels decreased by 53 percent. The treated mice showed weight loss, too, starting at 51 grams and ending the treatment at 45 grams. (7)
A similar study done in 2009 found that Panax ginseng plays a vital role in the anti-obesity effect in mice, which suggests the clinical importance of improving the management of obesity and related metabolic syndromes with ginseng.
5. Treats Sexual Dysfunction
Taking powdered Korean red ginseng seems to improve sexual arousaland treat erectile dysfunction in men. A 2008 systematic review included 28 randomized clinical studies that evaluated the effectiveness of red ginseng for treating erectile dysfunction; The review provided suggestive evidence for the use of red ginseng, but researchers believe that more rigorous studies are necessary in order to draw definitive conclusions. (9)
Of the 28 reviewed studies, six reported an improvement of erectile function when using red ginseng compared with placebo control. Four studies tested the effects of red ginseng for sexual function using questionnaires compared with placebo, and all trials reported positive effects of red ginseng.
Research done in 2002 at the Department of Physiology at Southern Illinois University’s School of Medicine indicates that ginseng’s ginsenoside components facilitate penile erections by directly inducing the vasodilatation and relaxation of the erectile tissue. (10) It’s the release of nitric oxide from endothelial cells and perivascular nerves that directly affect the erectile tissue.
The university’s research also indicates that ginseng affects the central nervous system and significantly alters the activity in the brain that facilitates hormonal behavior and secretion.
6. Improves Lung Function
Ginseng treatment has significantly decreased lung bacteria, and studies involving rats have shown that ginseng can stop the growth of cystic fibrosis, a common lung infection. In one 1997 study, rats were given ginseng injections, and after two weeks, the treated group showed a significantly improved bacterial clearance from the lungs. (11)
Research also shows another ginseng benefit is its ability to treat a lung disease called chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which is characterized as chronically poor airflow that typically worsens over time. According to the research, taking Panax ginseng by mouth seems to improve lung function and some symptoms of COPD.
7. Lowers Blood Sugar Levels
Several studies show that American ginseng lowers blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes, working as a diabetes natural remedy. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, one study found that people with type 2 diabetes who took American ginseng before or together with a high sugar drink showed less of an increase in blood glucose levels. (12)
Another study done at the Human Cognitive Neuroscience Unit in the United Kingdom found that Panax ginseng causes a reduction in blood glucose levels one hour after the consumption of glucose, confirming that ginseng possess glucoregulatory properties. (13)
8. Prevents Cancer
Research has shown that ginseng possesses powerful anticancer properties because of its ability to inhibit tumor growth. Although more research is needed on this subject, reports conclude that it’s the improvements in cell immunity involving T cells and NK cells (natural killer cells), along with other mechanisms such as oxidative stress, apoptosis and angiogenesis, that gives ginseng its anticancer properties.
Scientific reviews state that ginseng mitigates cancer through anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and apoptotic mechanisms to influence gene expression and stop tumor growth. (14) This show ginseng may work as a natural cancer treatment.
9. Boosts Immune System
Another well-researched ginseng benefit is its ability to boost the immune system — helping the body fight off infection and disease. The roots, stems and leaves of ginseng have been used for maintaining immune homeostasis and enhancing resistance to illness or infection.
Several clinical studies have shown that American ginseng improves the performance of cells that play a role in immunity. Ginseng regulates each type of immune cell, including macrophages, natural killer cells, dendritic cells, T cells and B cells.
Ginseng extracts produce antimicrobial compounds that work as a defense mechanism against bacterial and viral infections. Studies show that ginseng’s polyacetylene compounds are effective against bacterial infections.
Research involving mice showed that ginseng decreased the number of bacteria present in the spleens, kidney and blood. Ginseng extracts also protected mice from septic death due to inflammation. (15) Reports show that ginseng also has inhibitory effects on the growth of many viruses, including influenza, HIV and rotavirus