Ginseng is often called "the King of Herbs," for its ability to improve physical energy, making the mind sharper and increasing life span. Unlike popular stimulants, ginseng does not cause stress or adverse effect on our health.

Instead, it counters stress, enhances immunity, improves the actions of the heart and lungs, regulates blood pressure and blood sugar, protects the liver, helps prevent hardening of the arteries and is an antioxidant. It is a tonic that improves general health. It is traditionally and scientifically considered a cure-all or panacea, which is exactly its botanical name, Panax, means "all cure" in Greek, reflecting the ancient belief that it is a panacea.

Ginseng grows wild in two parts of the world: Asia and North America. Chinese believe in ginseng as a sacred herb that may bring wealth, health, longevity, happiness, and success. When you need to boost your energy or to prepare yourself for stress, you better try ginseng. This unique root is one of the most treasured herbs in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). The benefits of ginseng have been passed down from one generation to the next for thousands of years. Ginseng boasts many well-documented benefits to our health and wellbeing, from giving the immune system a leg-up to fortifying cardiovascular health.

More than 4,000 scientific studies attest to Ginseng’s health-giving properties: - Counters stress. - Enhances immunity. - Tones the heart and lungs. - Regulates blood pressure and blood sugar. - Protects the liver. - Serves as a powerful antioxidant.

Ginseng can help to make you look and feel better, and it might:

Boosts the immune system

By maintaining homeostasis of the immune system and enhance resistance to illness or microbial attacks through the regulation of the immune system. Ginseng stimulates cytokine secretion, antibody production, surface marker expression, and cellular functions such as phagocytosis and cytotoxicity. It improves cancer-related fatigue as well as overall quality of life, appetite, and sleep at night.

Protects the heart

Frequent consumption of the ginseng may reduce the amount of bad cholesterol and, in turn, raise the good cholesterol in your body. Ginseng can treat conditions such as anorexia, diarrhoea and bloating.

Regulates glucose levels in diabetics

Ginseng regulates blood glucose levels in people with Type 2 diabetes. Researches suggest that ginseng may even help to ease diabetes-related complications, such as retinal and cardiac functional changes.

Restores energy

After a long night or a particularly stressful day at work, taking some ginseng, especially in the form of soup or tea, can help restore your energy. This is because ginseng has a way of replenishing qi, supplementing body fluids, and suppressing internal heat.

Skin health

Ginseng works wonders for the body, both inside and out. It can brighten the skin, prevent ultraviolet damage, enhance collagen synthesis, and diminish signs of ageing.

Oxidative damage

Rich in antioxidants, Ginseng may inhibit inflammation and reduce oxidative damage to cells, which help to prevent chronic diseases. Ginseng can also improve brain functions like memory. According to studies, ginseng can even help to ease stress and offer relief for depression and anxiety.

Boost vitality

Some research suggests that ginseng may be useful in treating erectile dysfunction too. Studies have shown that ginseng may promote the production of nitric oxide, a compound that improves muscle relaxation in the penis and increases blood circulation. Systematic review provided positive research findings of ginseng for sexual function in menopausal women.

What is Ginseng?

Ginseng is one of the world’s oldest and famous herbs, and is a powerful adaptogenic herb. Panax ginseng, has been known clinically in China for thousands of years. The genus name 'Panax' was derived from Greek. 'Pan' means 'all' and 'axos' means 'cure'. Literally 'Panax' can be translated as 'cure-all' or panacea. The herbal root is named ginseng because it is shaped like a man.

Currently, twelve species have been identified in the genus Panax.

Among them, Panax ginseng, cultivated in China, Korea, Japan, Russia, and the US, (American ginseng), grown in southern Canada and the US and Panax notoginseng, cultivated in Yunnan and Guangxi provinces in China, represent the three most extensively investigated species. The pharmacological and therapeutic effects of ginseng have been demonstrated to affect the central nervous system (CNS), cardiovascular system, endocrine secretion, immune function, metabolism, biomodulating action, anti-stress, and anti-aging.

Roles of Ginseng

Ginseng is a herbal adaptogen. What is an adaptogen? Adaptogen improves general physical, mental, and emotional health.

An adaptogen does so by bringing numerous body functions into balance. It also helps you adapt to physical and emotional stress and to physical extremes, such as cold and hot or dark and light.

The Russian scientist N. V. Lazarev coined the name "adaptogen" in 1947 to describe the action of several herbs he was studying. He decided that an adaptogen should meet three criteria. First, an adaptogen needs to normalize and balance various functions in the body. Second, its action should be nonspecific, meaning that it increases the entire body's general resistance to disorders or infections. Finally, it is safe to use, even over a long period of time.

Adaptogenic substances

Adaptogenic substances are stated to have the capacity to normalize body functions and strengthen systems compromised by stress.

The term ‘adaptogen’ refer to a substance which was claimed to increase “non-specific” resistance to adverse influences to organism and stress. The term “stress” refers to a state of threatened homeostasis. Tonics are substances, which mitigate conditions of weakness or lack of tone within the entire organism, or in particular organs. The term tonic is typical for traditional Chinese medicine, where tonics are used in conditions of “asthenia”.

Most studies claimed that the pharmacological effects of ginseng are attributed to its bioactive constituents such as ginsenosides, saponins, phytosterols, peptides, polysaccharides, fatty acids, polyacetylenes, vitamins and minerals.

Ginsenosides of ginseng

The most prominent constituent of ginseng is a saponin glycoside known as ginsenosides. These ginsenosides have been termed an adaptogen for their ability to protect against stress and maintain homeostasis. Saponins are thought the be the main active components of ginseng that have antioxidative and anticancer effects.

In general, the contents of ginsenosides vary widely ranging from 2 to 20% depending on the species, age and part of ginseng, and even vary with the preservation or extraction method. More than 30 ginsenosides have been isolated, and characterized from various Panax species.

Ginsenosides enter the blood about half an hour after taking ginseng. It takes about another hour and a half for tissues of the body to absorb it. Only about one-fifth is absorbed.

The root contains the antioxidant vitamins A, C and E, and selenium, germanium and maltol and ferulic acid. It also has the minerals calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and iron and traces of B1, B2, B12, pantothenic acid, niacin, folic acid, copper, iodine and zinc. These nutrients have several functions, including to fortify the body, fight off infection, and strengthen the nervous system. In addition, ginseng contains simple sugars, peptides and beta-sitosterol, which lowers cholesterol levels and reduces tumors.

Adaptogen effects

Adaptogen improves general physical, mental and emotional health by bringing numerous body functions into balance. It also helps you adapt to physical and emotional stress and to physical extremes, such as cold and hot or dark and light.

In the course of doing its amazing balancing act in the body, ginseng plays opposite roles. A good example is its dual action on the central nervous system. It can be either a sedative or a stimulant. This action varies not only according to amount, large quantities tend to be more sedative and small ones more stimulating but also from one person to the next. Likewise, ginseng lowers or raises blood sugar and cholesterol. It protects red blood cells, but can also break them down, and it promotes or inhibits cell division. At the same time, it increases the cells' defense mechanisms. It inhibits or stimulates the heart and breathing rate, and regulates production of histamine.

Ginseng helps us deal with stress better by strengthening the adrenal glands. It also controls when they fire up and how quickly they shut down. One way it does this is by regulating a hormone called ACTH (adrenocorticotropic hormone), which stimulates adrenal activity.

Ginseng improves physical energy in several other ways. One is by increasing the adrenal glands' production and secretion of corticosterone. This hormone in turn encourages the liver, muscles and other tissues to make and store glycogen from the carbohydrates we eat, then helps the body use it efficiently. When you need energy, glycogen breaks down into sugar and corticosterone controls its absorption into the cells. The hormone also regulates the cells' use of potassium and sodium, two minerals that work together to help cell metabolism by regulating fluids in the cells and maintaining a proper pH. Potassium balance is also essential for proper nerve impulses and muscle responses, especially in the heart.

There are other ways that ginseng helps physical strength and stamina.

It encourages the production and storage of ATP (adenosine triphosphate), which is the enzyme that muscles store for fuel. Out of 150 herbs tested, ginseng stimulated ATP production the most. It may even contain a usable form of ATP.

Ginseng prevents overtaxed muscles from cramping and getting stiff and helps them recover quickly by reducing the amount of lactic acid in the blood. When muscles burn glycogen to get energy, they form lactic acid. Oxygen must be present to convert extra lactic acid back into glycogen to store for future use. If not converted, the lactic acid stays in the muscles and makes them cramp. In fact, one way that researchers gauge physical fatigue is to measure how much lactate, a salt derived from lactic acid, is in the blood. The less lactate there is, the better your endurance.

Ginseng root is not the only part of the plant used medicinally. Flowers and leaves, which are much less expensive, are made into tea and added to baths in China. The tea is considered a good restorative, but it is seldom prescribed.

Heart and circulation

It has been found that ginseng keep the heart at a healthy, low rate, while increasing the flow of blood to it. The more forceful each contraction of the heart, the more blood it pumps, and the slower the heart needs to work. Athletes who took ginseng for nine weeks had a much lower heart rate during their maximum exercise than athletes given placebo pills. Ginseng's benefits even continue long after its use stops, with heart rates remaining low and improved lung action continuing for months. Good heart performance and circulation are vital for physical, mental and emotional fitness. It takes a healthy, strong heart to circulate oxygen-rich blood through the body.

Ginseng is thought to work by regulating the heartbeat, selectively dilating arteries in the heart, and helping the heart muscle recover when it is injured due to lack of oxygen. It slows the heart rate, but at the same time, it increases blood flow. It also reduces the possibility of blood clots forming.


Numerous studies shows that ginseng improves our natural immunity by increases the number of infection-fighting natural killer cells and white blood cells. While improving immunity and helping the body resist infection, ginseng also reduces pain, fatigue and fever.

Ginseng improves immunity by increasing the number of beta and alpha globulins in the blood. It also reduces excessive numbers of leukocytes in the blood. These scavenger cells move through blood and tissue fighting infection and high levels of them indicate that an infection is present.


Ginseng does relieve many menopausal complaints, such as symptomshot flashes, night sweats, nervous tension, headaches and heart palpitations which is concluded in several researches. The women experienced less depression and insomnia and fewer sexual problems. Ginseng is especially effective for hot flashes, and often completely eliminates them within six weeks.

Blood sugar control

Ginseng's ability to help diabetics was probably recognized as early as the first century A.D. when the Mingyi Bielu (Chin. 名醫別錄) was written by Hongjing Tao, explains the function of ginseng, and described how it reduces excessive thirst, fatigue and excessive urination are common symptoms of the disease. In diabetes, blood sugar levels are elevated due to an insufficient amount of insulin. Several of the compounds in ginseng increase insulin in the blood. Before insulin was available in the 1920s, Japanese hospitals treated diabetic patients with ginseng, to successfully reduce their blood sugar levels and symptoms. In dozens of clinical studies, ginseng also eliminated symptoms of diabetes, especially the excessive thirst and also impotence. Most diabetics also feel less tired when they take it. Several studies from China show that ginseng lowers blood sugar levels of diabetics from 40 to 50 percent, and even returns some levels to normal. And these levels remain low for a week or two after the ginseng is discontinued. Diabetics who are resistant to insulin have been able to reduce the amount they take with ginseng. Several researches proves that diabetic patients body weight increases and moods and motivation improves as well during ginseng intake without side effects. Ginseng has been compared to allopurinol, a drug that strongly inhibits the uric acid that commonly forms kidney stones and occurs in excessive amounts in people who have gout.

Rheumatoid arthritis

The Chinese use ginseng to treat rheumatoid arthritis, because it stimulates production of adrenal hormones like hydrocortisone that reduce inflammation. Instead of the adverse side effects caused by prescription drugs like prednisone, ginseng has an opposite action. While the drugs eventually shrink the size of adrenal glands and impair their function, ginseng reverses adrenal shrinkage. Ginseng offers another benefit to arthritics by enhancing their immune systems. Other antiarthritic TCM herbs often used with ginseng to reduce inflammation are the roots of bupleurum, licorice and turmeric.