Ginseng is the plant species that belong to the Panax genus and consists of a short and slow-growing plant. The plant has fresh roots and contributes to different herbal remedies. The herbs are light-colored and form a fork-shaped root. They consist of a long stalk and oval-shaped green leaves. Ginseng has depicted enhanced and restored effects on the wellbeing of humans.
Types of ginseng
There are almost 11 different varieties of ginseng. Among them, the prominent plant is Panax ginseng used in research and supplementing purposes. The Panax genus contains varieties such as Panax notoginseng (Asian ginseng) and Panax quinquefolius (American ginseng). Both varieties are composed of ginsenosides and panaxosides. These are the steroid glycosides found in Panax genus alone. Other forms of ginseng include Siberian ginseng (eleutherococcus senticosus), Indian ginseng (withania somnifera), and Brazilian ginseng (pfaffia paniculata). These plants are mistaken with ginseng and belong to different species. The difference between them and the original ginseng is the replacement of eleutherosides with ginsenosides such as in Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus). However, these types show their effectiveness in boosting the immune system and increasing muscle strength. Therefore, plants belonging to Panax species, alone, are regarded are true ginseng.
A sweet aromatic flavor is associated with ginseng plants. Ginseng has a nonspecific effect and is found to normalize certain actions irrespective of whatever the pathological condition is.
Ginseng showed elevated effects in:
Mental health improvements
It is believed that this enhanced functioning of ginseng is due to certain polyphenols present in it. These agents elevate the adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) activity without adrenal glands involvement. It affects the generalized mental arousal. It affects the generalized mental arousal.
The American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius, L.) and Asian ginseng (P. Ginseng) are shown to:
boost the energy level
lower the levels of blood sugar
maintains blood pressure
reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases
reduce depression and anxiety
displays chemoprotective effects (anti-cancer properties)
boosts the immune system
manage sexual dysfunction in men
A traditional belief is developed that immunomodulatory effects are represented by Panax ginseng. With the inoculation of peripheral blood mononuclear cells from normal and diseased patients of immune-deficiency, the Panax extracts demonstrated an improved natural killer function and the antioxidant-dependent cellular toxicity in vitro. In a double-blinded study between a placebo-controlled group of normal people, an increased T helper lymphocytes count, ratio of helper T and cytotoxic T, phagocytosis and natural killer cell activity were observed in the groups administrated with Panax ginseng compared to the control.
The Parax ginseng species shows many beneficial effects in humans which are attributed to its immunomodulatory, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. The anti-inflammatory effect is normally associated with the cytokine regulation properties and phagocytosis in innate immunity and the B and T cells activation. Various researches found the involvement of ginsenoside R2; a constituent of ginseng, in the suppression of TNF-α-induced NF-κB-dependent iNOS and COX-2 gene expression in HepG2 cells. Ginsenosides inhibited the NF-κB expressions in a dosage-dependent manner.
Panax ginseng shows its effects on anti-cancer treatments as well. The active components of ginseng modulate the angiogenesis at the transcriptional, translational and protein-signaling levels. Wide research also depicted the immunomodulatory effects of ginseng.
Ginsenosides are considered the active compound of ginseng responsible for:
Anti-carcinogenic and immunomodulatory activities
Anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic actions
Anti-diabetes and anti-hypertensive operations
Other than the disease-fighting benefits of ginseng, its activity is also shown in the enhancement of physical performance and achieving the health and fitness goals of a person. It can improve the cognitive function and boosts up the body for proper functioning.
Is ginseng consumption safe?
Ginseng appears to be well-tolerated even if consumed at a higher rate than the normal dosage. Doses higher than 2,000mg, 4,500mg or even 6,000mg consumed for several weeks showed mild side effects. The symptoms of these effects are
Low blood sugar level (Hypoglycemia)
Increased or decreased blood pressure
Breast tenderness and vaginal bleeding
High ginseng doses are acceptable but overdose often leads to adverse side effects that should be administrated immediately.
For pregnant women, it is advised to consult a healthcare professional while consuming ginseng. Women should use ginseng during pregnancy but refrain their usage during the first trimester or lactation period as studies showed adverse effects of ginseng consumption during these periods.
Ginseng drug interactions
Ginseng interacts with various drugs and therefore its is recommended not to consume those drugs while using ginseng. Stimulant drugs such as caffeine and epinephrine speed up the nervous system and their usage with ginseng cause extreme jitteriness. Drugs in the blood thinners category such as warfarin, Lasix, and immunosuppressants lose their effectiveness when taken with ginseng.
How to use ginseng?
Ginseng is often available in the form of supplements and added in energy drinks or juices. Ginseng can be standardized to a desired amount of ginsenosides which have been directly linked to ginseng’s benefits. Ginseng’s benefits can be achieved in low dosages in various forms and are readily available for product development in the food and beverage industry.
It is recommended to consult with a healthcare professional before taking any form of ginseng to ensure a safe, planned outcome.