Last updated: August 11, 2021

Our method

7Products analysed

21Hours spent

6Evaluated articles

30User reviews

Korean ginseng is a plant that originates from Asia and has many health-promoting properties, which is why it is often used as a medicinal plant. Ginseng can be used in many ways, regardless of whether you want to strengthen your immune system, reduce stress or reduce high blood pressure - ginseng can have a positive influence on many complaints.

We are pleased that you have come across our large-scale Korean ginseng test 2021. In the following sections, we will go into more detail about Korean ginseng and its effects and provide you with further information about the plant itself and how to buy it.




The most important

  • Korean ginseng is often used as a remedy for various complaints and ailments. The Asian plant strengthens and protects the immune system in particular, but can also counteract stress or increase concentration.
  • There are different ways you can buy Korean ginseng. The most common in this country are in the form of tea, powder, capsules or even as a whole root. But ginseng is also available as a tonic, tablets, coffee or pastilles.
  • Korean ginseng is an adaptogen, which means that it can adapt individually to a body and its respective requirements. The various ginsenosides contained in the plant support the adaptation process and contribute to the fact that ginseng can have a balancing and rebalancing effect.

Korean Ginseng: Our Selection

Buying and evaluation criteria for Korean ginseng

When buying Korean ginseng, there are various aspects that you should not ignore. You should pay particular attention to the following criteria and features:

The above-mentioned points should help you to make the right choice for you and to ensure that you do not add any harmful or unnecessary substances to your body. At best, you can even save money. Always make sure that all products are of high quality before taking them.

Dosage form

The dosage form is nothing more than the processing, administration and packaging of the various Korean ginseng products and is reflected in the price.

Teas are usually only available in smaller quantities, which initially has a positive effect on the price. However, teas are also used up more quickly and have to be bought again and again. Capsules are more expensive to buy initially, but can be consumed for several months without having to constantly buy more.

The situation is similar for Korean ginseng roots and extracts. The roots are also used up more quickly than the extracts. Roots are cheaper to buy, but you have to buy more often.

Ginsenoside content

Ginsenosides are triterpene saponins extracted from the ginseng root. As surface-active compounds, saponins can, for example, liquefy mucus or remove toxins more quickly.

They can also promote blood circulation and exert an anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and fungicidal effect. In summary, saponins play a supporting role for both our immune system and digestive system.

Ginsenosides are triterpene saponins extracted from the ginseng root.

The ginsenoside content indicates how high the actual concentration of ginsenosides is in the respective products. The higher this value, the better. A high-quality dried ginseng plant usually has a ginsenoside content of 3%.

With certain products, this value can be significantly higher. For example, certain capsules have a ginsenoside value of over 20%.

When buying, however, be sure to check the concentration information. For example, if a product has been concentrated to a 10:1 ratio and the ginsenoside content is 10%, then only a single percent of the root's ginsenosides has been processed. This would correspond to a low quality.

Dosage

The dosage of many types of Korean ginseng products is precisely specified. For example, most extracts come with an additional spoon, which perfectly adjusts the daily ration. Capsules are also already correctly dosed for the daily requirement.

With teas, this can vary. Often tea bags are used, which also already specify how much ginseng is to be taken in one serving. However, it can also happen that the tea is offered loose. Roots are also available in their natural form.

With non-dosed products, you should always make sure that you get about two grams of ginseng per day. This is the recommended dose for Germany. In Korea, the recommended dose is already higher and is nine grams.

In severe cases of illness, however, it can go up to 30 grams, but this should always be determined in consultation with a doctor.

Additional ingredients

Many Korean ginseng products consist only of the ginseng plant itself and are free of additives. However, there are a few manufacturers who deliberately add other ingredients to their products in order to offer an effective all-in-one product.

When buying, always make sure that not too many ingredients have been used; this is usually not a good sign in terms of effectiveness. Furthermore, only natural, really important and, above all, high-quality ingredients should be included.

Ginkgo and ginseng, for example, are often combined, as both have a similar effect. However, it can also happen that certain manufacturers only add substances to drive up the price. In any case, you should first find out how important the additional ingredients can be for you.

If you are not sure how good the different ingredients really are, it is better to use a pure product. Alternatively, you can look for organic or eco-labelled products, which is usually a promising factor.

Mature

Another important purchase criterion is the maturity of the product. It says a lot about the quality. The longer a ginseng matures, the more nutrients can form.

Korean ginseng only acquires its positive medicinal properties after a few years; as a rule, this process takes about four to five years. However, most roots are only harvested after six to eight years, so that all the essential active substances are really contained.

The ripening time varies depending on the type of ginseng. White Korean ginseng, for example, is already equipped with all the important nutrients after four years. Red ginseng, however, needs six years to be of the same quality as a four-year-old white ginseng. This difference can also be seen in the price. White ginsengs cost significantly less than red ones.

The only difference between the two types is in their processing. The white ginseng is considered the pure variety, as it is dried directly after harvesting and not processed to any great extent. The red Korean ginseng is subjected to a steam treatment after harvesting, which gives it its red colouring.

During this process, some active ingredients are lost, which is why it also undergoes a longer maturing phase. The complex treatment makes the red ginseng milder as well as longer lasting and justifies the higher price.

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying Korean ginseng products

In the next sections, we will inform you in detail about the effectiveness of Korean ginseng and give you an understanding of the current state of science. You will also find detailed answers to frequently asked questions about Korean ginseng and its products.

What is Korean ginseng and what effect does it have?

Korean ginseng is an Asian plant that belongs to the Aralia family. For several thousand years, it has been used in traditional Chinese and Korean medicine because of its healing effects.

When people talk about ginseng in general, they usually mean Korean ginseng. It is considered the mother plant for the rest of the ginseng species and also has the most ginsenosides. Korean ginseng is also known in the medical field as Panax ginseng. However, it is also sometimes called gilgen, sam root or power root.

As its name suggests, Korean ginseng is mainly cultivated in the forest and mountainous regions of South Korea and occasionally in northeastern China, where it finds the best conditions for growth. (Image source: whaltns17 / pixabay.com)

The most important part of the ginseng plant is certainly its root, because it contains the most nutrients. Therefore, it is not surprising that when people talk about ginseng, they mainly mean the root. The ripening process of Korean ginseng is very lengthy.

It takes about three to four years for the first berries, each containing two seeds, to form on the plant. Most ginsengs are therefore only harvested and processed after four to eight years (1).

Korean ginseng is used both as a natural remedy and for medicinal purposes. Its effects are diverse and can improve the quality of life in some aspects (2).

Effects on high blood pressure

Cardiovascular complaints are troublesome. Too low blood pressure can bring dizziness, trembling or flickering eyes. But excessive sweating, palpitations, nausea or headaches can also be side effects of a cardiovascular complaint. Korean ginseng can help alleviate some of these symptoms.

Ginseng contains numerous ginsenosides, which can ensure that the blood can circulate and flow better again. This regulates and stabilises the blood pressure. Moreover, this all happens very individually, as ginseng is an adaptogen. It can therefore compensate for both upward and downward deviations.

This also has a positive effect on the cholesterol level, as cholesterol can be transported through the blood better and faster (3).

However, it is especially important for those who regularly take medication to consult a doctor and clarify everything personally before taking ginseng. It could be possible that the dose of another medicine has to be reduced because of the intake of ginseng.

Effect on stress

Stress is a common trigger for various diseases. Prolonged periods of stress can cause physical damage, such as cardiovascular disease. It is therefore not surprising that many people want to protect their bodies from too much stress.

Korean ginseng helps the body to adapt more quickly to the various stress triggers and to cope with them better. The body becomes more resistant and this in turn delays states of exhaustion and can even prevent stress-related illnesses.

Basically, ginseng ensures that only a few stress hormones are formed and that the existing ones can be broken down more quickly. This process also happens individually, which is often referred to as the adaptogenic effect (4).

Effect on menopausal symptoms

During the menopause, many women are increasingly confronted with constant fatigue, hot flushes, sleep disorders, depression or headaches. For some, the symptoms are more frequent and more severe than for others. Korean ginseng can help to alleviate these troublesome symptoms (5, 6).

During menopause, the body is constantly in hormonal imbalance, which has a negative impact on overall well-being.

Many women report that taking ginseng regularly helps to reduce mood swings, hot flushes and feelings of weakness.

Basically, it is recommended to take white ginseng in the form of capsules regularly for three months so that the ginseng can develop its full effect.

Men or women who are not in the menopause can also suffer from the symptoms mentioned above. Thus, ginseng not only supports women in their menopause, but can provide relief for any gender and age group.

What is Korean ginseng used for?

Korean ginseng is used in various areas. Because of its diverse modes of action, it can provide relief for numerous complaints:

  • Diabetes
  • Cancer (7)
  • High blood pressure
  • Weakened immune system
  • Poor memory and brain performance
  • Depression (8)
  • Lack of concentration
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Potency problems (9)
  • Stress
  • Menopause

Of course, there are many other complaints for which ginseng has a supporting effect on the human body.

At this point, it is important to mention that Korean ginseng does not act directly against the diseases, but strengthens the body with its active ingredients so that it can then act specifically against the respective complaints.

How, when and for whom is the intake of Korean ginseng suitable?

The intake of Korean ginseng can vary greatly depending on the product and the ginsenoside content. In general, about two grams of ginseng should be taken per day for three months, which corresponds to a daily ginsenoside value of about 20 to 30 milligrams.

It is best to take the ginseng in the morning with a meal to start the day fitter and more motivated.

Basically, Korean ginseng can be taken by anyone, regardless of age. However, it is recommended to take ginseng to prevent diseases such as metabolic disorders, lack of concentration or during stressful situations (10).

Regular ginseng cures are particularly recommended for the following people:

  • People who are frequently exposed to stress
  • Shift workers
  • Senior citizens (11)
  • Athletes
  • Psychologically distressed people

Note, however, that you will not notice the effects of ginseng if you are already very healthy and in tune with your psyche. However, even though you may not notice the effect, taking ginseng supports your body when stress sets in so that it can cope with it faster and better (12, 13).

What side effects can Korean ginseng cause?

Normally there are no side effects after taking Korean ginseng correctly (14). However, it is very important that you follow the product and consumption instructions.

If the product is consumed in too high a dose, for example, it could well lead to some undesirable side effects. The following phenomena are not uncommon:

  • Headaches
  • Sleep disorders
  • Diarrhoea
  • Nausea
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Sweating
  • Bleeding between periods

If you notice that some of these side effects occur more frequently after taking Korean ginseng, you should first reduce the dose or even stop taking ginseng altogether. In this case, it is best to consult a doctor or pharmacist.

What Korean ginseng products are available?

Korean ginseng is extremely expensive to produce, so it is not surprising that various versions, dosage forms and product types are available.

Korean ginseng is increasingly offered for sale in the form of capsules, extracts, dragées or pastilles. However, it is also available as a dried root, powder or granules. Ginseng tea or coffee are also no longer rare.

Korean ginseng tea is particularly popular in colder months. However, the bitter taste is not to everyone's liking, but it can be sweetened well with a little honey. (Image source: Manki Kim / unsplash)

Compared to capsules or tablets, extracts can be swallowed more easily. Especially for older people, this is a good option, even if the effect is not quite as strong.

Ginseng tea in particular is very popular. But ginseng coffee is also becoming more and more trendy, as it contains hardly any caffeine but still provides the body with energy, relieves fatigue and increases concentration.

What types of Korean ginseng are there?

In addition to the different product variants of Korean ginseng, a specific distinction is also made between two types of ginseng:

  • Red Korean ginseng
  • White Korean ginseng

Both red and white ginseng have their own advantages and disadvantages, which we will explain to you in the following sections.

Red Korean ginseng

The main difference between the two types of ginseng lies in their processing. We talk about red ginseng when the ginseng is processed directly after harvesting by exposing it to steam, which gives it its reddish colour. Only then can the ginseng mature.

Although the steam treatment increases the shelf life, many natural ingredients and enzymes are lost during this process. For this reason, red ginseng is considered less effective, which is why it is initially of poorer quality than white ginseng.

After six years, however, red ginseng has matured and is on a par with four-year-old white ginseng. It is therefore worthwhile to pay attention to the ripening period when buying to ensure high quality.

Advantages
  • Longer lasting
  • Can improve concentration and resilience
  • Milder taste
Disadvantages
  • More expensive
  • Certain ingredients and enzymes are lost
  • Less effective

The complex steam treatment of red ginseng is reflected in its price. Compared to white ginseng, red ginseng is significantly more expensive, especially as the maturing time is also two years longer. In terms of taste, red ginseng is much milder and less bitter.

White Korean ginseng

White ginseng is dried directly after harvesting and is not processed further, which is why it is colloquially called pure ginseng. As the white ginseng is dried untreated, no ingredients are lost, so it still has all the natural active ingredients and enzymes even after harvesting.

Advantages
  • Natural and pure
  • No ingredients are lost
  • Less expensive
  • Initially more effective
Disadvantages
  • Less durable
  • More bitter taste

In taste, the white variety is more intense than the red and is reminiscent of a slightly bitter liquorice root. In terms of price, the white ginseng is also ahead; both the drying process and the shorter ripening period are significantly less expensive and are reflected in the final price.

What alternatives are there to Korean ginseng?

In addition to Korean ginseng, there are many other types of ginseng. To give you a brief overview of the different types, we have listed the most important facts in the table below:

Alternative Description
Japanese ginseng Unlike Korean ginseng, Japanese ginseng is not an adaptogen and has only eight ginsenosides. Since it is only a related species of the original, it contains different ingredients and thus has a different effect. Certain active ingredients are even present in a significantly higher concentration.
American ginseng The American ginseng originally comes from the Korean mother plant. It is mainly cultivated in North America, where it can also be found in the wild. American ginseng also promises a healing effect, but it only has 15 ginsenosides, whereas the mother plant contains up to 30 different ginsenosides.
Chinese ginseng The Chinese ginseng native to China is also only an offspring of the Korean mother plant. Instead of 30 different ginsenosides, the Chinese one has only a fraction, namely 14 ginsenosides. Chinese ginsengs are also more frequently contaminated with pollutants.

With ginseng, it is extremely important to pay attention to the correct name.

For example, Siberian ginseng is often offered for sale at a very expensive price. However, we strongly advise you not to buy it, as it is wrongly called ginseng.

Although the plant looks similar to the original ginseng, it is completely different. It does not even contain anything like the potency of a real ginseng plant.

How is Korean ginseng grown?

Nowadays, most Korean ginseng is cultivated. Only rarely is wild ginseng still found.

Cultivated ginsengs are mostly grown according to the same principle:

  1. First year: In the first year, the seeds are sown in the fields in the autumn months of September and October and covered with a layer of straw so that fewer wild herbs can grow. After the winter months, they finally begin the germination process. Gradually, the plant grows and small leaves form. In autumn, the above-ground part of the plant then dies, meanwhile the root forms new buds again.
  2. Second year: The buds start to sprout again in spring. Compared to the previous year, however, the plant grows much taller and more leaves are formed. The above-ground part of the plant retreats again in autumn.
  3. Remaining years: As in the two previous years, the buds begin to sprout in spring in the following years. In autumn, however, red berries ripen, which carry two seeds.
  4. Harvesting the berries: After harvesting, the ripe berries are kept wet for a fortnight and regularly agitated so that the pulp rots and the hard seeds can detach. The seeds are then placed in moist sand and buried for twelve months. After that, they can be sown in autumn and grow into a new plant.
  5. Harvesting the roots: The roots of Korean ginseng are harvested in autumn after four to eight years. This is when they have the highest active ingredient content, as soon as all the leaves have withered and the berries are fully grown. During harvesting, the roots are carefully dug up, washed and then processed.

Cultivation is anything but simple, so even self-cultivation of Korean ginseng is very time-consuming, requires a lot of care and involves long maturing phases.

Since ginseng only acquires its medicinal properties after it has already been germinating for four to five years, it is usually only harvested after six to eight years. For this reason, it is not necessarily recommended to grow ginseng on your own.

How is Korean ginseng processed?

There are basically two different ways in which Korean ginseng can be processed. The ginseng can either be dried directly after harvesting or it can undergo a steam treatment.

When Korean ginseng is harvested, the roots are dug out particularly carefully so that no nutrients are lost. Care is taken to ensure that even fine and small roots do not break off. (Image source: Bosmin Kang / pixabay)

If the ginseng is dried directly, it can be harvested after only four years. In contrast to the other method, almost none of the active ingredients of the plant and its root are lost. Colloquially, this is also referred to as pure or white ginseng.

The steam treatment prolongs the shelf life of the root and colours it red, but some ingredients are lost in the process. It is therefore advisable to harvest the red ginseng after six years at the earliest so that it can keep up with the white ginseng.

Image source: Xb100 / 123rf

References (14)

1. Hao Zhang, Suleman Abid, Jong Chan Ahn, Ramya Mathiyalagan, Yu-Jin Kim, Deok-Chun Yang, and Yingping Wang (2020). Characteristics of Panax ginseng Cultivars in Korea and China
Source

2. C. I. Coleman, J. H .Hebert, P. Reddy (2003). The effects of Panax ginseng on quality of life
Source

3. Muhammad Irfan, Yi-Seong Kwak, Chang-Kyun Han, Sun Hee Hyun and Man Hee Rhee (2020). Adaptogenic effects of Panax ginseng on modulation of cardiovascular functions
Source

4. Xiangmin Piao, Hao Zhang, Jong Pyo Kang, Dong Uk Yang, Yali Li, Shifeng Pang, Yinping Jin, Deok Chun Yang and Yingping Wang (2020). Advances in Saponin Diversity of Panax ginseng
Source

5. Hye Won Lee, Jiae Choi, YoungJoo Lee, Ki-Jung Kil and Myeong Soo Lee (2016). Ginseng for managing menopausal woman's health
Source

6. Lei Bao, Xiaxia Cai, Junbo Wang, Yuan Zhang, Bin Sun, Yong Li (2016). Anti-Fatigue Effects of Small Molecule Oligopeptides Isolated from Panax ginseng C. A. Meyer in Mice
Source

7. Chong-Zhi Wang, Samantha Anderson, Wei DU, Tong-Chuan He, Chun-Su Yuan (2016). Red ginseng and cancer treatment
Source

8. Yang Jin, Ranji Cui, Lihong Zhao, Jie Fan and Bingjin Li (2019). Mechanisms of Panax ginseng action as an antidepressant
Source

9. Bumsik Hong, Young Hwan Ji, Jun Hyuk Hong, Ki Yeul Nam, Tai Young Ahn (2002). A double-blind crossover study evaluating the efficacy of korean red ginseng in patients with erectile dysfunction: a preliminary report
Source

10. Eunseon Jeong, Yeni Lim, Kyeong Jin Kim, Hyeon-Hui Ki, Doheon Lee, Jaehyun Suh, Seung-Ho So, Oran Kwon and Ji Yeon Kim (2020). A Systems Biological Approach to Understanding the Mechanisms Underlying the Therapeutic Potential of Red Ginseng Supplements against Metabolic Diseases
Source

11. Mayya Petrovna Razgonova, Valery Vyacheslavovich Veselov, Alexander Mikhailovich Zakharenko, Kirill Sergeyevich Golokhvast, Alexander Evgenyevich Nosyrev, Giancarlo Cravotto, Aristidis Tsatsakis and Demetrios A. Spandidos (2019). Panax ginseng components and the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease
Source

12. Hyun Lyung Jung, Hye Eun Kwak, Sung Soo Kim, Young Chan Kim, Chong Do Lee, Heidi K. Byurn, Ho Youl Kang (2011). Effects of Panax ginseng supplementation on muscle damage and inflammation after uphill treadmill running in humans
Source

13. Ting-Yu Jin, Pei-Qing Rong, Hai-Yong Liang, Pei-Pei Zhang, Guo-Qing Zheng and Yan Lin (2020). Clinical and Preclinical Systematic Review of Panax ginseng C. A. Mey and Its Compounds for Fatigue
Source

14. Young-Sook Kim, Jung-Yoon Woo, Chang-Kyun Han, and Il-Moo Chang (2015). Safety Analysis of Panax Ginseng in Randomized Clinical Trials: A Systematic Review
Source

Why you can trust me?

Wissenschaftlicher Artikel
Hao Zhang, Suleman Abid, Jong Chan Ahn, Ramya Mathiyalagan, Yu-Jin Kim, Deok-Chun Yang, and Yingping Wang (2020). Characteristics of Panax ginseng Cultivars in Korea and China
Go to source
Wissenschaftliche Studie
C. I. Coleman, J. H .Hebert, P. Reddy (2003). The effects of Panax ginseng on quality of life
Go to source
Wissenschaftliche Studie
Muhammad Irfan, Yi-Seong Kwak, Chang-Kyun Han, Sun Hee Hyun and Man Hee Rhee (2020). Adaptogenic effects of Panax ginseng on modulation of cardiovascular functions
Go to source
Wissenschaftliche Studie
Xiangmin Piao, Hao Zhang, Jong Pyo Kang, Dong Uk Yang, Yali Li, Shifeng Pang, Yinping Jin, Deok Chun Yang and Yingping Wang (2020). Advances in Saponin Diversity of Panax ginseng
Go to source
Wissenschaftlicher Artikel
Hye Won Lee, Jiae Choi, YoungJoo Lee, Ki-Jung Kil and Myeong Soo Lee (2016). Ginseng for managing menopausal woman's health
Go to source
Wissenschaftliche Studie
Lei Bao, Xiaxia Cai, Junbo Wang, Yuan Zhang, Bin Sun, Yong Li (2016). Anti-Fatigue Effects of Small Molecule Oligopeptides Isolated from Panax ginseng C. A. Meyer in Mice
Go to source
Wissenschaftlicher Artikel
Chong-Zhi Wang, Samantha Anderson, Wei DU, Tong-Chuan He, Chun-Su Yuan (2016). Red ginseng and cancer treatment
Go to source
Wissenschaftlicher Artikel
Yang Jin, Ranji Cui, Lihong Zhao, Jie Fan and Bingjin Li (2019). Mechanisms of Panax ginseng action as an antidepressant
Go to source
Wissenschaftliche Studie
Bumsik Hong, Young Hwan Ji, Jun Hyuk Hong, Ki Yeul Nam, Tai Young Ahn (2002). A double-blind crossover study evaluating the efficacy of korean red ginseng in patients with erectile dysfunction: a preliminary report
Go to source
Wissenschaftliche Studie
Eunseon Jeong, Yeni Lim, Kyeong Jin Kim, Hyeon-Hui Ki, Doheon Lee, Jaehyun Suh, Seung-Ho So, Oran Kwon and Ji Yeon Kim (2020). A Systems Biological Approach to Understanding the Mechanisms Underlying the Therapeutic Potential of Red Ginseng Supplements against Metabolic Diseases
Go to source
Wissenschaftlicher Artikel
Mayya Petrovna Razgonova, Valery Vyacheslavovich Veselov, Alexander Mikhailovich Zakharenko, Kirill Sergeyevich Golokhvast, Alexander Evgenyevich Nosyrev, Giancarlo Cravotto, Aristidis Tsatsakis and Demetrios A. Spandidos (2019). Panax ginseng components and the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease
Go to source
Wissenschaftliche Studie
Hyun Lyung Jung, Hye Eun Kwak, Sung Soo Kim, Young Chan Kim, Chong Do Lee, Heidi K. Byurn, Ho Youl Kang (2011). Effects of Panax ginseng supplementation on muscle damage and inflammation after uphill treadmill running in humans
Go to source
Wissenschaftlicher Artikel
Ting-Yu Jin, Pei-Qing Rong, Hai-Yong Liang, Pei-Pei Zhang, Guo-Qing Zheng and Yan Lin (2020). Clinical and Preclinical Systematic Review of Panax ginseng C. A. Mey and Its Compounds for Fatigue
Go to source
Wissenschaftlicher Artikel
Young-Sook Kim, Jung-Yoon Woo, Chang-Kyun Han, and Il-Moo Chang (2015). Safety Analysis of Panax Ginseng in Randomized Clinical Trials: A Systematic Review
Go to source
Reviews