Ginseng is an herb used in traditional medicine for thousands of years. In Mandarin Chinese, the work Ginseng literally means “root of man”. It was so named because the root of this plant resembles the shape of a human body. Almost 2,000 years ago, the great Chinese medical directory stated that ginseng increased longevity. The main active ingredients in ginseng are called ginsenosides. The higher the quantity ginsenosides, the better the quality of the ginseng.
Some people classify ginseng as an adaptogen; a substance that helps the body resist the effects of physical and environmental stress. Some people also claim that ginseng can increase physical endurance under stress, improve mental alertness, memory, thinking ability or even resistance to infection. Based on the Herb Bible by Earl Mindel, PhD and Ginseng by Betty Kamen, PhD, ginseng facilitates the reduction of cholesterol and blood pressure. Ginseng may also reduce the risk of metastasis (spread) of tumor (cancer). In addition, ginseng may also help protect the user from viral infection and reduced cellular oxygen. Ginseng helps reduce discomfort caused by menopause.
There are two major types of ginseng: American and Asian. Asian ginseng contains high contents of the active ingredients, while American ginseng is mild. Siberian ginseng belongs to different family of herbs. The “ginseng” in this article refers to Asian ginseng particularly Korean ginseng and Panax ginseng.
Asian Ginseng Benefits
Asian ginseng may have multiple health benefits on people at risk or even suffered from various conditions.
However, most scientific supports arose from either animal or in vitro studies. Here outlines some recent
a. Ginseng Benefits – Cold Symptom Complex Kaneko et al confirmed the preventive effects of medical ginseng on the common cold symptom complex, including flu, by clinical observation. 
b. Ginseng Benefits – Learning and Memory Deficits Nishijo H. found that red ginseng has ameliorating effects on learning and memory deficits due to hippocampal lesions and aging in rats.  In a clinical study of 61 patients suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, high doses of Korean ginseng (Dosage 9 g/day) showed significant improvement on the Alzheimer’s Disease Assessment Scale and Clinical Dementia Rating after 12 weeks. [D12] Panax ginseng also shows benefits on the cognitive performance of Alzheimer disease patients. [D13]
c. Ginseng Benefits – Cancer Kim et al concluded that ginsenosides Rg3 and Rh2 could inhibit the proliferation of prostate cancer cells. 
d. Ginseng Benefits – Immunoglobulin Production Enhancement Ginseng extract was prepared by boiling the ginseng root in 50% ethanol. Then, this extact was injected into mice. The researchers found the serum levels of immunoglubulins IgM, IgG and IgA were significantly elevated. 
Ginseng benefits on Erectile dysfunction
In September, 2011, researchers from University of Exeter, UK, released a report that Cautiously positive conclusions were drawn for yohimbine and ginseng as treatment options for erectile dysfunction. For acupuncture and maca the evidence was insufficient for erectile dysfunction and SD respectively. [D1] Further, there’s a positive trend towards recommending ginseng as an effective aphrodisiac for the enhancement of sexual desire and/or performance. [D2]
Korean red ginseng was given to 60 patients suffered from mild to moderate erectile dysfunction. The patients received either dosage of 1 g (three times daily) of Korean red ginseng or a placebo. The five-item version of the International Index of Erectile Function score after the treatment was significantly higher in the KRG group compared with that before the treatment. However, the levels of serum testosterone, prolactine and cholesterol after the treatment were not statistically significant different between the KRG and the placebo group. [D5]
Ginseng has also been combined wtih Tongkat Ali, Horny goat weed, Gotu kola and flower pollen extracts to treat erectile function in male rats. The penile erection index was significantly higher than each single component.[D4]
Ginsenoside Rg1 of ginseng benefits copulatory behavior of male mice
Ginsenoside Rg1 is the purified ingredient from ginseng. Male mice were treated with Rg1 intraperitoneally. Rg1 (10 mg/kg) significantly increased mounting and pelvic thrusting frequency and numbers of intromission of male mice from d16 to d20. Rg1 also increased serum testosterone concentration, enhanced NO release. [D3]
Ginseng benefits on mental and physical performance?
Acute supplementation of 200 mg of Panax ginseng does not improve athletes’ physical performance in running. [D8] Acute ingestion of Thai ginseng (Kaempferia parviflora) also failed to improve exercise performance during repeated sprint exercise or submaximal exercise to exhaustion. [D9] But, the effect of long term supplementation or high doses is unclear. [High doses may lead to unwanted side effects]
A study of 30 volunteers shows that Panax ginseng (G115; dosage of 200 mg; 400 mg; placebo for 8 days) improved working memory performance and subjective ratings of calmness. [D10]
Ginseng benefits – symptoms related to menopause?
Kelley KW and Carroll DG at Auburn University published a review article that the currently available literature is conflicting in regard to efficacy and does not support the use of alternative OTC therapies for hot flash management associated with menopause. [D6] But, there is a report that women receiving a herbal formula containing SupHerb, Netanya, extracts of black cohosh, dong quai, milk thistle, red clover, American ginseng, chaste-tree berry reported a significantly superior mean reduction in menopausal symptoms than the placebo
Ginseng side effects and warning
When used appropriately, ginseng appears to be safe. NCCAM suggests that its use be limited to 3 months because of concerns about the development of ginseng side effects. Ginseng potentially interacts with many drugs.The common ginseng side effects are mental status changes [nervousness, restlessness, excited feeling, trouble sleeping, gastrointestinal problems etc.]. Other ginseng side effects include vaginal bleeding, mastalgia diarrhea, high blood pressures. However, some reported ginseng has hypotensive effects and cause
allergic reactions. [2, 6-8] People with mental illness, preparing for surgery, abnormal blood pressure and people who drink coffee and smoke excessively should avoid ginseng. For details, please, click: Ginseng side effects.
David, September 10, 2011
Ref: Good Health, retrieved 3/24/2017 from http://zhion.com/herb/Ginseng/GINSENG_Benefits.html
 Krochmal R Phytochemical Assays of Commercial Botanical Dietary Supplements. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2004 Dec;1(3):305-313. Epub 2004 Oct 6.  Boniel T et al The safety of herbal medicines in the psychiatric practice Harefuah. 2001 Aug;140(8):780-3, 805.  Vazquez I Herbal products and serious side effects: a case of ginseng-induced manic episode. Acta Psychiatr Scand. 2002 Jan;105(1):76-7; discussion 77-8.. Chang LK et al, The impact of herbal medicines on dermatologic surgery. Dermatol Surg. 2001 Aug;27(8):759-63.  Kabalak AA et al, Menometrorrhagia and tachyarrhythmia after using oral and topical ginseng. J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2004 Nov;13(9):1071.] Wang ZW Observation of therapeutic effect by combined administration of Salvia miltiorrhiza, ligustrazine and Panax notoginseng on late hemorrhagic shock of rabbits Zhongguo Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi. 1997 May;17(5):292-4.  Nocerino E The aphrodisiac and adaptogenic properties of ginseng Fitoterapia. 2000 Aug;71 Suppl 1:S1-5.  Jeon BH et al, Effect of Korea red ginseng on the blood pressure in conscious hypertensive rats. Gen Pharmacol. 2000 Sep;35(3):135-41.  Ito TY et al, A double-blind placebo-controlled study of ArginMax, a nutritional supplement for enhancement of female sexual function. J Sex Marital Ther. 2001 Oct-Dec;27(5):541-9. Ding DZ Effects of red ginseng on the congestive heart failure and its mechanism Zhongguo Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi. 1995 Jun;15(6):325-7. [Effects of polysaccharide ginsan from Panax ginseng on liver function. Song et al, Korea Institute of Radiological & Medical Sciences, Korea. Arch Pharm Res. 2004 May,27(5):531-8  Kaneko et al, Kaneko Heart Clinic, Proof of the Mysterious Efficacy of Ginseng.., J Pharmacol Sci. 2004 Jun;95(2):158-62.]  Nishijo et. al, Proof of the meysterious efficacy of ginseng…, J. Pharmacol Sci.2004 Jun;95(2):145-52.]  Effect of ginsenosides Rg3 and Rh2 on the proliferation of prostate cancer cells. Kim et al., Pusan National University, Korea. Arch Pharm Res. 2004 Apr; 27(4):429-35.]  Inteaperitoneal injection of ginseng extract enhances both immunoglobulin and cytokine production in mice, Liou et al, Kang-Ning Junior College of Medical Care and Management, Taiwan, China. Am J Chin Med. 2004;32(1):75-88]  Immunomodulating activities of polysaccharides isolated from Panax ginseng. Lim et al, Yonsei University, Korea. J Med Food.2004 Spring;7(1):1-6.] [C1] Asia GinSeng, NCAM, December 2005 [D1] Ernst E, Posadzki P, Lee MS. Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) for sexual dysfunction and erectile dysfunction in older men and women: An overview of systematic reviews. Maturitas. 2011 Sep;70(1):37-41. [D2] Shamloul R., Natural aphrodisiacs., J Sex Med. 2010 Jan;7(1 Pt 1):39-49. [D3] Wang X, Chu S, Qian T, Chen J, Zhang J. Ginsenoside Rg1 improves male copulatory behavior via nitric oxide/cyclic guanosine monophosphate pathway. J Sex Med. 2010 Feb;7(2 Pt 1):743-50. [D4] Qinna N, et al, A new herbal combination, Etana, for enhancing erectile function: an efficacy and safety study in animals. Int J Impot Res. 2009 Sep-Oct;21(5):315-20. [D5] de Andrade E, et al, Study of the efficacy of Korean Red Ginseng in the treatment of erectile dysfunction. Asian J Androl. 2007 Mar;9(2):241-4. [D6] Kelley KW, Carroll DG. Evaluating the evidence for over-the-counter alternatives for relief of hot flashes in menopausal women. J Am Pharm Assoc (2003). 2010 Sep-Oct;50(5):e106-15. [D7] Rotem C, Kaplan B. Phyto-Female Complex for the relief of hot flushes, night sweats and quality of sleep: randomized, controlled, double-blind pilot study.Gynecol Endocrinol. 2007 Feb;23(2):117-22. [D8] Ping FW, et al, Effects of acute supplementation of Panax ginseng on endurance running in a hot & humid environment. Indian J Med Res. 2011 Jan;133:96-102. [D9] Wasuntarawat C et al, No effect of acute ingestion of Thai ginseng (Kaempferia parviflora) on sprint and endurance exercise performance in humans. J Sports Sci. 2010 Sep;28(11):1243-50. [D10] Reay JL et al, Panax ginseng (G115) improves aspects of working memory performance and subjective ratings of calmness in healthy young adults. Hum Psychopharmacol. 2010 Aug;25(6):462-71. [D12] Heo JH etl al, An open-label trial of Korean red ginseng as an adjuvant treatment for cognitive impairment in patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Eur J Neurol. 2008 Aug;15(8):865-8. [D13] Lee ST et al, Panax ginseng enhances cognitive performance in Alzheimer disease. Alzheimer Dis Assoc Disord. 2008 Jul-Sep;22(3):222-6.
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