Ginseng has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries.
This slow-growing, short plant with fleshy roots can be classified three ways, depending on how long it is grown: fresh, white, or red.
Fresh ginseng is harvested before 4 years, while white ginseng is harvested between 4–6 years and red ginseng is harvested after 6 or more years.


There are many types of this herb, but the most popular are American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) and Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng).
American and Asian ginseng vary in their concentration of active compounds and effects on the body. It is believed that American ginseng works as a relaxing agent, whereas the Asian variety has an invigorating effect.
Ginseng contains two significant compounds: ginsenosides and gintonin. These compounds complement one another to provide health benefits.
Health benefits of ginseng.
1. Potent Antioxidant That May Reduce Inflammation
Ginseng has beneficial antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that have been shown to help reduce inflammatory markers and help protect against oxidative stress.
2. May Benefit Brain Function
Ginseng has been shown to benefit mental functions, feelings of calmness, and mood in both healthy people and those with Alzheimer’s disease.
3. Could Improve Erectile Dysfunction
Ginseng may improve symptoms of erectile dysfunction by decreasing oxidative stress in tissues and enhancing blood flow in penile muscles.
4. May Boost the Immune System
Ginseng may strengthen the immune system in people with cancer and even enhance the effects of certain vaccinations.
5. May Have Potential Benefits Against Cancer
Ginsenosides in ginseng seem to regulate inflammation, provide antioxidant protection, and maintain the health of cells, which could help decrease the risk of certain kinds of cancer. Nevertheless, more research is needed.
6. May Fight Tiredness and Increase Energy Levels
Ginseng may help fight fatigue and enhance physical activity by lowering oxidative damage and increasing energy production in cells.
7. Could Lower Blood Sugar
Ginseng, particularly fermented red ginseng, may help increase insulin production, enhance blood sugar uptake in cells, and provide antioxidant protection.
Easy to Add to Your Diet
Ginseng root can be consumed in many ways. It can be eaten raw or you can lightly steam it to soften it.
It can also be stewed in water to make tea. To do this, just add hot water to freshly sliced ginseng and let it steep for several minutes.
Ginseng can be added to various recipes like soups and stir-frys, too. And the extract can be found in powder, tablet, capsule, and oil forms.
How much you should take depends on the condition you want to improve. Overall, daily doses of 1–2 grams of raw ginseng root or 200–400 mg of extract are suggested. It’s best to start with lower doses and increase over time.
Look for a standard ginseng extract that contains 2–3% total ginsenosides, and consume it before meals to increase absorption and get the full benefits.
Ginseng can be eaten raw, made into a tea, or added to various dishes. It can also be consumed as a powder, capsule, or oil.
Safety and Potential Side Effects
According to research, ginseng appears to be safe and should not produce any serious adverse effects.
However, people taking diabetes medications should monitor their blood sugar levels closely when using ginseng to ensure these levels do not go too low.
Additionally, ginseng may reduce the effectiveness of anticoagulant drugs. For these reasons, talk to your doctor before supplementing with it.
Note that due to the lack of safety studies, ginseng is not recommended for children or women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Lastly, there is evidence suggesting that long term use of ginseng could decrease its effectiveness in the body.
To maximize its benefits, you should take ginseng in 2–3-week cycles with a one or two week break in between.
Lastly, while ginseng appears to be safe, people taking certain medications should pay attention to possible drug interactions.
By Noeline