Ginseng: what is it for, benefits and properties

This content is part of the Alternative Medicine category and may contain information that lacks scientific studies and/or medical consensus.

Have you ever heard of ginseng? With a flavor similar to ginger , the plant known as ginseng, scientific name Panax ginseng , is widely used in Chinese medicine as a way to improve the quality of life and increase longevity.

Its root has several beneficial properties for health due to the presence of ginsenoside, the main active ingredient and the reason why it started to be used worldwide for medicinal purposes.

In addition, it has benefits for brain and heart health, providing more vitality and health to these areas of the body. Currently, this root is considered a functional food.

Are you curious? Next, you will see what are the main benefits of this food according to science and you will also find out how to consume it, where to find it and what precautions and contraindications should be taken with this natural product. Check out!

Ginseng properties

Among its properties, we can mention actions such as aphrodisiac, antidepressant, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant , biostimulant, depurative, diuretic, tonic, revitalizing, hypotensive, hypocholesterolemic and hemostatic. ( 1 )

Benefits of this root

Check out how ginseng works in the body and some of its main benefits!

Rich in antioxidant substances

One of the main advantages for the body in consuming ginseng root is its antioxidant action. Thanks especially to the presence of phenolic compounds and polyacetylenes, which protect the body against damage caused by oxidation.

Oxidation is a natural process in the body and results in the production of so-called free radicals. However, these substances are responsible for causing various damage to cells, such as premature aging and even some types of cancer.

For this reason, the root is applied in traditional Chinese medicine as a tonic for youth, helping to prevent various degenerative diseases as well. ( 2 , 3 )

Lowers blood sugar levels

Ginseng is rich in saponins and ginsenoside, two substances that have proven effects on lowering blood glucose levels. This mainly includes people suffering from type 2 diabetes.

But this benefit is only possible due to the phytochemical components of the root that help reduce the absorption of sugar consumed by the body. At the same time, they stimulate the production of insulin, which is the substance responsible for metabolizing sugars . ( 2 , 3 )

Strengthens the immune system

Ginsenoside also acts directly on the immune system, improving the body’s defenses against attacks from viruses, bacteria and various diseases.

This is because the substance has properties that stimulate the production of new white blood cells, the body’s main defense cells. In addition to increasing their response time against threats to the body.

Thus, regularly consuming the root can help prevent from colds and flu , even more serious illnesses, such as various types of cancer. ( 3 , 4 )

lowers cholesterol

Traditionally, ginseng is indicated for the treatment of high cholesterol . This is because of the ability of the root phytochemicals to prevent fat platelets from aggregating.

This benefit favors the elimination of cholesterol through the feces, preventing it from being absorbed by the body and ends up accumulating in the tissues. ( 5 )

improves circulation

Ginsenosides are known for their vaso-relaxing function. That is, they help to relax and dilate blood vessels, improving blood circulation , especially in the extremities of the body.

Thus, consuming ginseng root can be of great help for those who suffer from swelling caused by poor circulation and can even prevent the negative consequences of this harm for health, such as pain and the appearance of varicose veins . ( 5 )

Reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease

The phytochemicals found in ginseng are also able to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease because they lower blood glucose and cholesterol levels.

Also, by improving circulation, the root helps make the heart function at a healthier pace.

Ginsenosides, on the other hand, have the ability to protect heart cells from problems such as muscle hypertrophy, malfunction, cardiac ischemia and even damage presented during an infarction. ( 3 , 5 , 6 )

gives more energy

People who want more energy in their daily lives can also benefit from ginseng. This is because, this root is recognized as a stimulant for the body and this is confirmed by science.

What happens is that the root has the ability to stimulate the production of some hormones, such as steroidogenesis, which are produced by the adrenal gland and are responsible for making the body adapt quickly to changes in stimuli.

Allied to this, ginseng also improves the rate of oxygen absorption by the body during physical exercise, serving to increase endurance. Thus, it is confirmed that consuming ginseng helps give you more breath and energy to last all day. ( 6 , 7 )

Stimulates memory

You’ve probably heard that the consumption of ginseng stimulates learning and memory , right? Well know that this is not a myth and it makes perfect sense, according to the latest findings of science.

This process happens because of the release of neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine, which improve the connections between neurons, brain cells.

With this, it is possible to learn a certain subject faster and still be able to access memories about it. ( 6 , 7 )

Natural aphrodisiac

Finally, ginseng also has an aphrodisiac action, resulting from the combination of properties such as antioxidant, vasorelaxant and cardio-protective of the root. All of this promotes more energy and directly influences the treatment of sexual impotence, especially in men. ( 6 , 7 )

How to consume?

The ideal is to consume between 5 and 10 g of ginseng per day. To do this, just mix 1 tablespoon in your main meals, take 1 capsule or consume between 3 and 4 cups of tea a day. See how to prepare tea from this root!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of water
  • 2 grams of ginseng

Preparation method:

Bring the water to a boil. When it starts bubbling, add the root, cover the pan and cook on low heat for about 15 minutes. Then, just strain and it’s ready to be consumed.

An important tip: the tea cannot be kept for a long time, as it loses its properties. Therefore, always prepare just enough and consume right after preparation and without sweetening.

Contraindications and side effects

People who suffer from nervous system problems such as hyperactivity, hysteria, mania and schizophrenia should avoid using ginseng. In addition, the product is also contraindicated for those who use drugs that stimulate the nervous system (antipsychotics) or those who undergo hormonal treatments.

This is because the root enhances the effects of medications, which can cause serious problems caused by this mixture. ( 7 )

Where to find the root?

Have you seen the main health benefits of ginseng here and wanted to try it, but you don’t know where to find the root? Well, rest assured, that currently this supplement is easily found in natural and herbal products stores.

In addition, you can find dry root (powdered or in capsule form) or fresh root. But beware, always check the composition of the products before buying, as they should only contain panax ginseng or panax notoginseng , the supplements that have the benefits shown.

Ellie Lauderdale

My name is Ellie Lauderdale, MD and I am USA based professional Nutritionist .

I am a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and board certified specialist in sports dietetics who is trained in integrative medicine. I have worked with hundreds of clients, from those suffering with chronic disease to professional and olympian athletes. My goal is to help optimize you from the inside so that you can feel, perform, and look your best on the outside.

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