Everything You Need to Know About American Ginseng
What is American Ginseng?
ou've likely heard of ginseng, a family of energy-boosting herbs with a long history of use in Traditional Chinese Medicine. There are several similar but distinct varieties of ginseng – the most common being Siberian, Asian, and American ginseng.
In this article, we focus on American ginseng and unpack the benefits of this wonderful herbal remedy.
American ginseng – from the Panax quinquefolius plant – is a powerful medicinal herb that grows in North America (hence the name). The fleshy roots of the herb have been used for thousands of years by Native American tribes to increase energy and treat pain, headaches, fever, and indigestion.
Today, American ginseng is still widely cultivated and used across North America as a herbal tonic for supporting energy, stress tolerance, and immune health. It's one of the most popular herbs on the market and is exported around the world.
American and Asian ginseng are often confused as they're from the same Panax genus of plants. They are both rich in antioxidant compounds with powerful health benefits, but according to Chinese medicine, American ginseng has more of a calming and "cooling" effect on the body.
How American Ginseng Works
The studies we have on ginseng herbs show their powerful health benefits are due to bioactive compounds called ginsenosides (1). These chemical compounds have potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which exert immune-supportive, neuroprotective, and blood sugar-regulating benefits on the body.
In natural medicine, American ginseng is also a popular stress-busting herb. It's known as an "adaptogen" – a compound that helps you avoid burnout and physical exhaustion by regulating the body's response to stress.
Health Benefits of American Ginseng
Keep reading for more on the potent health benefits of American Ginseng.
Like other forms of ginseng, the American variety is a natural fatigue-fighter and pick-me-up. It may help to enhance your physical and mental performance by protecting the energy powerhouses of the cell – the mitochondria – from oxidative damage to allow more efficient energy production.
In 2013, researchers looked at the impact of ginseng on cancer patients dealing with debilitating fatigue as a side-effect of treatment. It found that taking 2000 mg of American ginseng for 2 months resulted in a significant reduction in fatigue, particularly for patients actively receiving cancer treatment (2).
Another 2018 systematic review study in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found American ginseng to be a promising treatment for fatigue in people with chronic illnesses (3).
Promotes Brain Function
Research suggests active ginsenosides in American ginseng have neuroprotective and cognitive-enhancing effects, helping you to feel mentally sharp.
A study in Psychopharmacology measured the mood and cognitive function in healthy adults taking a natural supplement containing American ginseng extract (standardized to 10.65% ginsenosides). The study found a significant improvement in working memory, reaction time, and feelings of calmness among those who took American ginseng (4).
This is great news for students and people with mentally demanding jobs! .
Supports Immunity, Reduces Colds and Flu
American ginseng is one of the most popular natural remedies during cold and flu season. As a fantastic immune tonic, it may help you get through the winter months untouched! The active compounds have antimicrobial properties and are known to balance the immune system and enhance the body's resistance to infection.
In 2011, a review of 5 studies found that, compared to a placebo, taking American ginseng as a preventative measure (5):
- Reduced the total number of common colds by 25%
- Lowered the incidence of other acute respiratory infections
- Shortened the duration of colds and acute respiratory infections by 6.2 days
Regulates Blood Sugar Levels
Regulating blood sugar is key to a healthy metabolism. Ginsenosides in American ginseng may help to balance blood sugar levels by increasing insulin production as well as your cells' sensitivity to insulin. Insulin is a pancreatic hormone that prevents elevated blood sugar levels by encouraging the uptake of glucose into your cells to be burned for energy or stored.
A clinical study found that taking 3g of American ginseng before or at the same time as a sugary drink reduced blood glucose levels in type-2 diabetics (6).
Make American Ginseng Part of Your Daily Diet
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