Last updated: August 11, 2021

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Have you ever heard of Ginseng? Do you know the properties that have made it so popular in recent years? In this article we are going to talk about an ancient medicinal plant of oriental origin called Gienseng. Thanks to its benefits, its use dates back to ancient times and is still being studied.

It is a fleshy plant that grows in different countries, especially in China. As it is an ancient natural remedy, with great benefits and with continuous study, it continues to be popular. It takes time to talk about its qualities, as they are innumerable, but it is worth looking into it to find out how it can help us.

If you need to increase your energy, boost your immune system, or if a friend's cousin has problems that don't help his sex life, this article will be of interest to you. We'll be talking about these and other benefits, their advantages and disadvantages, assessing what's on the market and what's right for you. Join us!




First the most important thing

  • Ginseng is an ancient plant of traditional Chinese medicine. Its regular consumption brings great health benefits. Its benefits are many and significant, improving quality of life and reducing ailments. It is available in different commercial presentations.
  • Due to its origin and colour, there are several types of ginseng: Korean red, Siberian, American, Indian, among the most popular, but you can also find Peruvian and Brazilian. Similarly, they are classified according to the state of their root: if it is white, it is freshly cut, if it is brown, it is dry, and if it is red, it is roasted.
  • Health is a matter of utmost importance, which is why it is necessary to buy with caution and be informed, taking into account relevant factors that help to make the right decision, such as: product presentation, dosage, contraindications, side effects, etc.

The Best Ginseng: Our Picks

Buying Guide

Nowadays, the accelerated pace and conditions of life, as well as age, are detrimental to our bodies and as a consequence our health is no longer at its best. Fortunately, there is a wide range of options that help to improve our lives, but to choose the best one it is necessary to know its benefits, disadvantages and even its competition.

Ginseng capsules, oils and natural root are some of the presentations that can be found. (Photo: bbtreesubmission / 123rf.com)

What is Ginseng?

Ginseng is a medicinal plant that has been used for over 5000 years, also known as panax. It is of Eastern origin, mainly from China, although it is also produced in America. It is a root that is characterised by its resemblance to the human body.

Its active ingredient is an element known as saponoside, also called ginsenoside, which provides its main therapeutic properties. The minimum amount that a root can contain to have medicinal value is 4%. The more it contains, the better.

It also contains polysaccharides or panoxides, B vitamins, essential oils, amino acids and enzymes. Siberian ginseng or eleutherococcus, on the other hand, does not contain ginsenosides, which makes it a cheaper but not medicinal option.

Did you know? The word Ginseng comes from the Chinese yin-shen, meaning "image of man", and its scientific name is "Panax Ginseng"; Panax comes from the Greek Panakes meaning "Remedy against all evils"?

What are the benefits of ginseng?

When consumed, Panax has an adaptogenic action, which means that it adapts to the body and is able to increase its psychological or physical resistance to stressful situations, restoring calm to the body and normalising its functions.

Its benefits and advantages are many, but it is important to bear in mind all its qualities and even its contraindications, as it is not suitable for consumption by everyone, and its use may be counterproductive for some.

Advantages
  • Multiple benefits
  • Availability of different types of panax
  • Available to everyone
  • Medical and cosmetic presentations
  • In continuous clinical study
Disadvantages
  • Not choosing the right panax
  • It has important contraindications
  • It produces adverse reactions
  • Excessive consumption has consequences

Korean or American ginseng - what should you look out for?

Depending on their place of origin, there are other types of panax. The most common are Korean red Korean and American. Each ginseng has its own characteristics, which makes them different remedies, even opposite in action. For example, while one is stimulating, another may have a sedative effect.

Korean ginseng. The most popular natural remedy in the ginseng family. It improves the physical and mental state, thanks to its stimulating and revitalising properties and its tonic action, as well as boosting the body's defences, reducing cholesterol and helping to improve sexual performance.

American ginseng. Root grown in the United States and Canada. This plant calms and relieves stress and anxiety. It is an aid in the treatment of cases of high blood pressure and insomnia, helps regulate blood sugar levels, the nervous system, blood pressure, and a long list of other ailments.

KOREAN G. AMERICAN G.
Origin Korea, China, Russia, Mexico, Canada USA and Canada
Active ingredient Rg1 ginsenosides Rg1 ginsenosides
Harvest age 6 years 5 years
Action Stimulant Soothing

What about other types of ginseng according to their origin?

Siberian ginseng. An adaptogen that grows in Asia and Russia, its root is rich in eleutherosides which are compounds very similar to ginsenosides. It is a plant similar to Korean G. Korean, but it does not come from the same plant, so its effects do not have the same scope and it is not considered medicinal. It is useful for:

  • Increase cardiovascular endurance
  • Boost immunity
  • Combat fatigue

Indian ginseng. Also known by its Sanskrit name ashwagandha or sleep herb. It has been used in Indian medicine since ancient times. It plays an important role in Ayurvedic medicine, i.e. the Indian medical system where it is recognised for its ability to increase longevity. Some benefits:

  • Helps the nervous system
  • Helps control anxiety and hyperexcitability
  • Boosts the immune system
  • Improves thyroid hormone levels

Female Gingseng. It comes from China and belongs to the Apiaceae family. It is a plant with a regulating effect on the hormonal system, rich in flavonoids, phytosterols, carvacrol, palmitic acid, vitamins A, E, C and B3 and minerals such as iron, magnesium and potassium. Its benefits are:

  • Has analgesic, anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic action
  • Good circulatory tonic
  • Helps with gynaecological problems (pre-menstrual, climacteric and menopause)
  • Effective against constipation, migraine and hypertension

Peruvian ginseng. Originally from the Peruvian Andes, it is known as Peruvian Maca or Lepidium Meyenii. It is harvested for 9 months and only grows there due to climatic conditions. It is rich in vitamins B1, B2, B6, B12, C, E, iron, copper, zinc, sodium, potassium, calcium, iodine and alkaloids. Some benefits:

  • Stimulates the immune system and strengthens the immune system
  • Improves memory
  • Promotes sexual health
  • Supports physical and mental well-being

Brazilian ginseng. Also known as suma root, it is a natural food and remedy consumed in the indigenous lands of the Amazon. It grows on a vine throughout their jungles. Among its benefits are:

  • Regulates testosterone levels in men and women
  • Acts as a hormone regulator
  • Boosts the immune system
  • Increases cellular oxygenation and energy levels

How much does ginseng cost?

The most commercially available and most expensive ginseng is Korean ginseng. However, there are many options, presentations, and formulations that make the product vary in price from one to another, and it could be a local, national or imported formulation, which increases the price.

To purchase a ginseng product, it is enough to be clear about what health condition we want to address to approach the right ginseng and begin to choose according to presentations and prices, without forgetting of course to have paid due attention to contraindications and side effects.

Among the prices that can be found available for all budgets, there is the option of buying the seeds for only 50 MXN, but if we prefer a formulation it can cost between 80 MXN and more than 3,600 MXN

Buying criteria: factors that allow you to compare and rate the different models of Ginseng

Having understood that there are different types of ginseng to which we should pay attention in order to decide which is most suited to what we need, it is time to look at other useful and necessary factors in order to finalise our decision between one product or another. Please take note of the following criteria.

  • Presentations
  • Contraindications
  • Secondary reactions
  • Dosage

Presentations

Ginseng is available in various presentations, whether for medical use, as a food or for aesthetic purposes, there are options that are well suited to the needs and tastes of the user. Here are a few to choose from:

Ginseng drinks. There are energy drinks containing Ginseng, tea sachets for infusions, soluble coffee with ginseng or you can buy the root and preserve it in honey.

Capsules. The most common way of consuming ginseng. The extract is placed in small doses inside a capsule and all you have to do is swallow it to start getting the benefits. There are multiple brands with bottles of 30, 60, 90 or 360 tablets.

Liquid ampoules. These are treatments containing 10 ampoules, where you drink the liquid directly. You take one a day.

Cosmetics. In the world of cosmetics, ginseng has also been incorporated into formulations, so you can find it in facial or hair products. Look for it in shampoos or conditioners, waxes, gels, masks or creams.

Contraindications

As with any product, especially when it comes to substances and chemicals, overuse can have consequences. In this case, they can lead to insomnia, agitation, nervous disorders, tachycardia, diarrhoea or other stomach effects.

Attention should also be paid to the combination with other substances, as they may have adverse effects. Below is a list of some of the main contraindications:

  • Not recommended for people with lupus, multiple sclerosis, or arthritis due to its action on the immune system.
  • It should not be used by people with hypertension or for those who take medicines that enhance the contraction force of the heart.
  • Those who regularly drink products that accelerate the nervous system such as coffee, tea, drugs or alcohol.
  • Diabetics taking hypoglycaemic or antiplatelet drugs.
  • It is not recommended for pregnant women or children under 12 years of age.
  • People who have or have had oestrogen-related diseases such as breast cancer.

Side reactions

The Vademecum (official publication of medicines and ingredients) reports that there may be adverse reactions such as excitement, insomnia, nervousness, diarrhoea, hypertension, rashes, headaches, dizziness and oedema. It is important to pay attention to any sensations that occur once any of the ginseng versions are being consumed.

Dosage

Ginseng should be taken for 4 to 6 weeks, and then allowed to rest for 2 to 3 months. Your daily dosage, regardless of the product or type of ginseng, should be no more than 1 to 2 grams per day. Consult a specialist who will give you precise instructions.

(Featured image photo: Leung Cho Pan / 123rf.com)

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