Ginseng has been widely consumed worldwide for centuries, especially in Asia-Pacific countries, thanks to the herb’s wide-ranging health benefits. There are many different species of ginseng, but one of the most used is American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius).
Many Native American tribes used this medicinal herb to treat various health disorders and to boost sexual performance. The discovery of American ginseng (which bears a close resemblance to Asian ginseng) by a Jesuit priest named Joseph Lafitau sparked a lucrative trade between North America and China for more than three centuries.
This herb typically grows wild in shady and hilly forests of the U.S. and southeastern Canada. However, this herb has become a threatened species in certain parts of the U.S. due to overexploitation. Today, most of the root found commercially is cultivated.
Here are five benefits of using American ginseng as a herbal remedy.
American Ginseng Treats Respiratory Tract Infections
American ginseng works effectively against bacterial infections by inhibiting the production of inflammatory proteins in immune cells and activating phagocytes — a type of white blood cell — and natural killer cells. Ginsenosides in this herb can help reduce inflammation and provide antioxidant protection.
It also stops the formation of new biofilm — microorganisms that form an attachment to a surface by secreting a slimy, glue-like substance — and aids the dissolution of a mature biofilm. These functions suggest that this root could help relieve the symptoms and reduce a person’s risk of a common cold or flu. It also supports the belief that the herb can also effectively prevent or treat other respiratory infections.
It Can Strengthen the Immune System
American ginseng is less stimulating than Asian ginseng. Therefore, it can enhance the immune system without exposing highly distressed people to excessive mental stimulation.
In addition, this root is a cooling herb. Those who have chronic stress can consume a Yin tonic to strengthen the immune system. This drink is also beneficial for people with excess nervous energy, high blood pressure, or prone to ulcers.
You Can Use It to Alleviate Cancer-Related Fatigue
High-dose consumption of American ginseng — up to 2,000 mg per day for 8 weeks — effectively treats fatigue due to cancer or chemotherapy. These findings came from a clinical trial that involved people who suffered from a variety of cancers.
Interestingly, this study used pure American ginseng root in the form of capsules to avoid harmful side effects. The result showed a 20% improvement in fatigue for those who consumed the ginseng capsule for eight weeks. The patients reported feeling less fatigued and more satisfied with their treatment.
It Helps Regulate Blood Sugar Levels
A study shows that taking American ginseng after eating a carbohydrate-rich meal effectively regulates the blood sugar levels of healthy people and of people with type 2 diabetes. It can boost insulin production and enhance the uptake of blood sugar in tissues.
Because of this, experts suggest ginseng should be considered adjunctive therapy in managing type 2 diabetes. The most convenient way to use American ginseng is to take it in capsule form.
It Boosts Brain Function
A clinical trial result shows that the use of this herb is effective in enhancing cognitive function and short-term memory. This is based on the results of a Corsi Block-Tapping task — a psychological test used to assess short-term cognitive working memory. It showed that the cognitive performances of each trial participant improved after they consumed various doses of American ginseng extract.
Important Cooking Tip: If you’re going to consume American ginseng as a herbal soup, you need to boil it for up to 90 minutes. However, make sure you do not boil it in iron or aluminum pots or pans. That could cause an undesired chemical interaction. Instead, steep the herb in containers made from ceramic, clay, glass, or stainless steel. For those who lead a busy lifestyle, Ginseng tea might be more suitable for you. Simply steep a teabag in hot water for a couple of minutes and then enjoy.
American ginseng is effective in treating or managing different health disorders. It is also widely available as a herbal remedy or in a supplement capsule. Remember to adhere to the recommendations and health warnings on the label to prevent side effects or interactions.
- Journal of Medicinal Plants Research. 2019. A review of Ginseng species in different regions as a multipurpose herb in traditional Chinese medicine, modern herbology and pharmacological science . [Accessed 21 October 2021]
- ENCYCLOPEDIA.COM. 2018. Ginseng, American [Accessed 21 October 2021]
- US National Library of Medicine. 2020. Ginseng alleviates microbial infections of the respiratory tract: a review .[Accessed 21 October 2021]
- PubMed. 2010. Effects of American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) on neurocognitive function: an acute, randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study. [Accessed 21 October 2021]
- US National Library of Medicine. 2013. Wisconsin Ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) to Improve Cancer-Related Fatigue: A Randomized, Double-Blind Trial, N07C2 . [Accessed 29 October 2021]
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