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Healthy Diet Plans >>  Dietary Supplements >>  Ginseng


The word ginseng is derived from a Chinese term ‘jen-shen’, which means image of a man and it refers to various species of genus Panax. Ginseng is a slow growing plant and its roots are used in Chinese medicine since ages. Two species of ginseng are used commonly Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng) and American ginseng (P. quinquefolius) that are harvested from both wild and cultivated. Siberian ginseng should not be considered similar to Panax ginseng as it lacks the active component ginsenosides which is believed to be responsible for the herbs medical value and studied scientifically.

Health and ginseng

  1. Ginseng can improve mental performance and have modest effects on thinking, learning, concentration, reaction time, logic and math.
    It is beneficial for both healthy young individuals and old ill patients. However for its recommendation in this field, more strong scientific research is necessary.
  2. Ginseng may help lower blood sugar levels and may be beneficial for type-2 diabetes patients (effects on type-1 diabetes patients are not clear).
  3. Ginseng powder or extract taken orally can be used for cancer prevention ad it may reduce the risk of being affected by various cancers.
  4. Ginseng is beneficial for patients with COPD and improves pulmonary function and exercise capacity in them.
  5. Ginseng can be used for immune system enhancement as it may improve the effectiveness of antibiotics in patients with acute bronchitis, may stimulate immune cell activity, improve white blood cell counts and enhance body’s response to influenza vaccine.  
  6. Ginseng may improve stamina and exercise performance in athletes, reduce symptoms of coronary artery diseases, relieve fatigue of various causes, accelerate recovery of anal fistula in infants, lower blood pressure, benefit coma patients by decreasing intracranial pressure, improve menopausal symptoms, improve multi-infarct dementia and over all health-related quality of life and sense of well-being.

Side effects of ginseng

Ginseng when taken in recommended doses is well tolerated in most individuals. However long term use may cause itching, skin rash, diarrhea, sore throat, loss of appetite, headache, fever, excitability, anxiety, chest pain, blood pressure abnormalities, difficult menstruation, rapid heart rate, nausea, vomiting and leg swelling.
As ginseng can lower blood glucose levels, it should be used with caution for patients with diabetes, hypoglycemia or on medications/herbal supplements for the same.
Patients with bleeding disorders or on medication for blood clotting should also use ginseng with caution as it may reduce the effectiveness of some blood thinning medications.
Ginseng use is not recommended during pregnancy and lactation. Ginseng can cause loss of menstrual period, breast tenderness, breast enlargement (reported in men), vaginal bleeding after menopause, difficulty in maintaining an erection and increased sexual responsiveness.
Before starting ginseng in any form, it is advisable to do so in recommended doses and under the guidance of a health care professional.
Submitted on January 16, 2014