What if we told you there is a wonder herb that can tackle fatigue, decrease stress, boost your energy levels, and improve your skin? We bet you’d be flipping excited to know more about this miraculous herb. It is none other than Ginseng – a herb we have all heard about but seldom tried.
Ginseng has made it to almost all the industries concerning women – health, wellness, beauty, and fitness. This time-tested herb is loaded with antioxidants that help your body adapt to stress factors. Hence, ginseng is one of the most popular adaptogens available globally.
We’re quite sure you have seen people rave about ginseng but never yourself looked at its potential. If our guess is right, we believe it is time you get to know more about this medicinal herb. Keep scrolling to enlighten yourself about ginseng and its 15 amazing health benefits for women.
What is Ginseng?
Ginseng is a perennial plant that is grown widely in many parts of Asia and America. Belonging to the genus Panax, this slow-growing plant has many variants, mostly based on the origin. American ginseng, Siberian ginseng, and Korean ginseng are some of the more popular ones. Ginseng is referred to as the root and rhizome of the Panax plant, mostly Panax ginseng C. A. Meyer.
The name ginseng is derived from the Chinese word rénshēn, in which rén translates to ‘human being’ and shén means ‘plant root’. Ginseng owes its name to its peculiar shape and forked roots that resemble the human figure. You might mistake ginseng for ginger if you find it in a grocery store. While both look similar, their benefits are entirely different.
There are 13 species of ginseng, each differing in the percentage of active compounds and their benefits. American ginseng is Panax quinquefolius while Korean ginseng is Panax ginseng. These popular varieties are believed to relax the nerves, control diabetes, and reduce stress in women.
Why is ginseng worth trying?
Our busy lifestyle has caused us to overlook our health issues. Many physical and psychological health issues are often found to be linked to stress (1). Experts believe that stress if controlled can create a positive change in the mind and body. Adaptogens like ginseng help in controlling the effects of stress in the body.
Ginseng has been a part of Chinese and Ayurvedic medicinal formulations for centuries. Ginseng has been used by Native American tribes for many years and is called the ‘grandfather of medicine’ by some. The reason why ginseng has become a rising star in the world of herbs is because of its nutritional value and adaptogenic properties. A study also proved the benefits of ginseng for the central nervous system (2).
Nutritional benefits of Ginseng
Ginseng is packed with many bioactive compounds, each having its benefits for women. Since Panax ginseng is the most popular variety of ginseng, let’s look at some of its nutritional compounds:
- Ginsenosides – These are triterpene glycosides that have beneficial properties like antiaging, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory. A study confirmed the positive effect of ginsenosides on Alzheimer’s disease (3).
- Gintonin – Gintonin is a glycolipoprotein that contains lysophosphatidic acids. It has been associated with improved gene expression of LPA receptors in cancer-like conditions in mice (4).
- Polysaccharides – These are biological polymers that are involved in cellular structure. A recent study has found that ginseng-derived polysaccharides can regulate the immune system’s inflammatory response in nervous system diseases (5).
Apart from these nutrients, ginseng also contains pectin, vitamins B1, B2, and B12. A study on zebrafish compared the bioactivity of the various nutrients of ginseng and their potential relation to immunomodulation (6). However, the effects of these nutrients on the human body are yet to be investigated thoroughly.
Types of Ginseng-based Products
Ginseng is used in many forms, including fresh, dried, boiled and dried, etc. Based on this, there are two main types of ginseng available globally:
White ginseng – sun-dried ginseng
Red ginseng – ginseng boiled at 100-110° for 2 to 3 hours
The main difference between fresh, white, and red types of Korean ginseng is that the fresh ones are harvested within four years, the white ones between four to six years, and the red ones only after 6 years. A study comparing both red and white ginseng showed positive results in induced-asthma in mice (7), thus indicating their anti-inflammatory benefits for human beings.
Based on this study and several others, brands all over the world have begun manufacturing a variety of ginseng-based products. The most common are ginseng tea blends that help in boosting immunity and relaxing the nerves. Another popular ginseng-based product is ginseng powder.
Ginseng is available as tonics and tablets for different purposes like appetite enhancers, energy boosters, and supplementary capsules. They come in varying concentrations and are best consumed based on the prescription of an experienced medical practitioner.
Ginseng has also made it to the skincare industry, especially in Korea. Many Korean skincare brands manufacture ginseng-based beauty products like anti-aging creams, moisturizers, and face masks. You will also find ginseng in the form of soft drinks and even chewing gum.
15 Health Benefits of Ginseng for Women
1. Prevents cancer
Ginseng may help in preventing cancer development in women. Several studies suggest that ginseng can decrease cell growth due to its anti-cancer proliferation abilities (8). A case-control study proved the possibility of ginseng to help prevent the occurrence of many human cancers (9).
2. Lowers blood sugar
One disease that most women get affected by is diabetes. Ginseng has for long been tried and proved useful for those suffering from diabetes. Both Korean and American ginseng seems to help control blood glucose levels. Ginseng is prescribed by practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine to those suffering from type 2 diabetes. In a study on patients suffering from type 2 diabetes mellitus, ginseng supplementation improved glucose control and insulin sensitivity (10).
3. Relieves menopausal symptoms
Women in the pre-menopausal and post-menopausal stages often experience symptoms like mood swings, insomnia, decreases in sexual arousal, etc. Ginseng may help with such symptoms and improve them over time. A review of existing pieces of evidence proved that there are positive effects of Korean red ginseng to help with hot flashes in menopausal women (11).
4. Improves sexual health
Ginseng has a popular nickname called ‘King of Herbs’ and for good reason. For centuries, ginseng has been tried, tested, and trusted for its aphrodisiac benefits. A study concluded that red ginseng could improve sexual function in premenopausal women (12). Women facing fertility issues may also benefit from ginseng. This is clear from the fact that ginseng has been an integral part of fertility treatments in Chinese, Ayurvedic, and ancient tribal medicines in America.
5. Increases energy levels
Tea blends of ginseng are used as energy boosters for those suffering from fatigue and stress. There have been many reports from around the world of women feeling less lethargic with regular consumption of ginseng. In one study, the antifatigue effects of ginseng were experimented with and proven to be helpful in patients suffering from idiopathic chronic fatigue (13).
6. Fights inflammation
One of the well-known effects of ginseng is its ability to fight inflammation. Inflammation in women can occur due to several ailments like autoimmune diseases and infections. The effect of Korean red ginseng was investigated in a study. It concluded the benefits of ginseng as an immunosuppressive agent in people suffering from atopic dermatitis (14).
7. Reduces stress
The adaptogenic ability of ginseng makes it an effective treatment for stress in women. Ginseng may help alleviate stress levels in women – physical as well as psychological. A study concluded that red ginseng may have a positive effect on oxidative stress by increasing antioxidant enzyme activity in postmenopausal women (15).
8. Boosts immunity
Traditionally, ginseng is prescribed for those who have a compromised or weak immune system. Many pieces of literature have described the role of ginseng in maintaining homeostasis of the immune system. A study found the possibility of Korean red ginseng to improve immunomodulation in patients suffering from colorectal cancer (16).
9. Improves memory
Ginseng is known for its ability to boost concentration and learning. It may provide a short-term boost to memory as suggested by some studies. In one study, fermented ginseng extract was found to provide enhanced behavioral memory in patients with Alzheimer’s disease (17).
10. Fights microbial infections
As the human body ages, the ability to fight microbial infections reduces. This calls for not just a boost in immunity but also the assured synthesis of healthy immune cells like T cells, B cells, macrophages, natural killer cells, etc. One study confirmed the anti-microbial activity of ginseng’s polysaccharides on a variety of microbes (18).
11. Combats flu
When consumed as a supplement, ginseng may help combat the flu. Numerous studies have linked ginseng to the prevention of flu. While this seems to be promising, one must be careful with oral consumption of ginseng as it can only be used as a supplement and not as a daily dietary element.
12. Treatment of PCOS
A common disorder in females all around the globe is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome or PCOS. It is a condition that often goes overlooked but is associated with symptoms like irregular periods, excess hair growth, weight gain, etc. It is assumed that 1 in every 10 women suffer from PCOS.
There is still ongoing research about the benefits of ginseng for PCOS-affected women. But one study linked Korean red ginseng extract to the treatment of polycystic ovaries in rats (19). However, the effect of the same in women requires in-depth investigation but seems promising.
13. Normalizes hormonal balance
Women suffer from numerous disorders because of hormonal imbalance. It affects young girls, pre-menopausal women, and post-menopausal women. The ginsenosides in ginseng have been researched to show estrogen-like activity in several studies. In one study, significant estrogenic activity was found in ovariectomized mice treated with ginseng doses of varying concentrations (20). But the benefit of the same is yet to be researched and proven in women.
14. Anti-aging effects
Aging skin is prone to the degradation of collagen fibers which is found to be the reason for conditions like fine lines, wrinkles, etc. Ginseng has been associated with a prolonged lifespan historically. There is research that has proven the use of ginseng in inducing the production of collagen (21). In one study, a mixture of medicinal plants including ginseng had shown a reduction in the loss of skin moisture which is known to be one of the causes of skin aging (22).
15. Improving bone health
Aging in women is often associated with poor bone health owing to the reduced levels of estrogen in the body. There is a direct relation between estrogen levels and cardiovascular diseases, stroke, and osteoporosis in women. Ginseng has been shown to improve estrogen levels and hence may help in improving bone health in aging women. Both in vitro and in vivo studies suggest that ginsenosides in ginseng can help in the treatment of osteoporosis (23).
Side Effects of Ginseng
Ginseng is generally considered to be safe for consumption, but like any other medication, the pharmacological effects of ginseng need to be considered. It is important to stick to a recommended dose and not overdo treatments with ginseng. It can work as a supplement but its role as a part of daily diet is being investigated.
Although there are not many studies with substantial proofs about the potential side effects of ginseng, there are reports of it causing symptoms like insomnia and dizziness (24). Prolonged use of ginseng is found to cause ginseng abuse syndrome but this has not been backed up by any serious studies (25).
The slow-growing plant ginseng has been used in Chinese medicine for centuries. Available in 13 species, ginseng is popularly found as American and Asian (Korean) ginseng. Historically, ginseng is believed to prolong life, boost energy levels, and treat several ailments. Research on the effects of ginseng in the human body is still going on, but numerous proofs indicate the benefits of ginseng. The roots of ginseng contain bioactive compounds that have found interest in the minds of several researchers. Some of these compounds are known to treat stress, autoimmune diseases, and much more. With the rising interest in adaptogens around the globe, ginseng has made it to the list of proven adaptogens and is now being consumed worldwide to cure many health issues.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How long does it take to experience the benefits of ginseng?
As stated earlier, research on the benefits of ginseng is still under process. Based on the health concern, ginseng may take months to show a visible effect in the human body. A study revealed that ginseng if consumed at a dose of 200mg per day will take around 4 weeks to improve mood changes and cognition (26).
What is the best time to consume ginseng?
It is recommended to consume ginseng before meals. For beginners, we advise starting with lower doses of ginseng. Search for products with a concertation of 2-3% total ginsenosides (27). Ginseng can also be consumed raw, but this requires the advice of a practicing medical professional.
For whom will you recommend ginseng?
Ginseng is recommended for those suffering from common diseases like diabetes, age-related disorders, etc. However, advice from a practicing medical professional is needed. Typically, ginseng is recommended for seniors, people undergoing constant stress, post-surgery recovery, and prevention of diseases.
- “The impact of stress on body function: A review” – ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
- “A Role of Ginseng and Its Constituents in the Treatment of Central Nervous System Disorders” – hindawi.com
- “Panax ginseng components and the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease” – spandidos-publications.com
- “Effects of Gintonin-enriched fraction on the gene expression of six lysophosphatidic receptor subtypes” – sciencedirect.com
- “Ginseng polysaccharides: A potential neuroprotective agent” – sciencedirect.com
- “The Difference between White and Red Ginseng: Variations in Ginsenosides and Immunomodulation” – researchgate.net
- “Comparative study of Korean White Ginseng and Korean Red Ginseng on efficacies of OVA-induced asthma model in mice” – ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
- “Is ginseng safe for women to take?” – wellbeing.com.au
- “Preventive effect of ginseng intake against various human cancers: a case-control study on 1987 pairs” – pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
- “The Efficacy of Ginseng-Related Therapies in Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus” – ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
- “Ginseng for managing menopausal woman’s health” – journals.lww.com
- “The Effect of Korean Red Ginseng on Sexual Function in Premenopausal Women: Placebo-Controlled, Double-Blind, Crossover Clinical Trial” – ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
- “Antifatigue effects of Panax ginseng C.A. Meyer: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial” – pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
- “Anti-inflammatory and Anti-oxidative Effects of Korean Red Ginseng Extract in Human Keratinocytes” – pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
- “Antioxidative effects of Korean red ginseng in postmenopausal women: a double-blind randomized controlled trial” – ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
- “Prospective Study for Korean Red Ginseng Extract as an Immune Modulator following a Curative Surgery in Patients with Advanced Colon Cancer” – researchgate.net
- “Effects of fermented ginseng on memory impairment and β-amyloid reduction in Alzheimer’s disease experimental models” – ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
- “Ginseng, the ‘Immunity Boost’: The Effects of Panax ginseng on Immune System” – ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
- “Therapeutic Effect of Korean Red Ginseng Extract on Infertility Caused by Polycystic Ovaries” – ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
- “Treatment with Panax Ginseng Antagonizes the Estrogen Decline in Ovariectomized Mice” – ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
- “Effect of red ginseng NaturalGEL on skin aging” – sciencedirect.com
- “Ginseng saponins and the treatment of osteoporosis: mini literature review” – ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
- “Korean Ginseng” – webmd.com
- “Ginseng” – webmd.com
- “Ginseng” – sciencedirect.com
- “Effects of Panax Ginseng on Quality of Life” – sagepub.com
- “7 Proven Health Benefits of Ginseng” – healthline.com