Ginseng tea may not be your go-to beverage, but with the health benefits it offers, it could well be! Ginseng, a centuries-old remedy, is called “all healing” ginseng with good reason. With its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, not to mention its benefits in preventing or treating a range of health issues, this is one herb that you might want to make a regular feature in your day.1
Ginseng can be consumed in a variety of ways, as fresh or dried root or in tinctures or powdered form. A ginseng tea is yet another easy and rejuvenating way to tap the goodness of this root. What follows is a primer on the different types of ginseng and the potential health benefits ginseng has lined up for you.
Decoding The Types Of Ginseng
Siberian ginseng or Eleutherococcus senticosus is not true ginseng but may have its own benefits.2 It is an adaptogen which may help better cope with stress and has the potential to fight heart disease, kidney problems, Alzheimer’s disease, tuberculosis, and even colds and flu.3
If you’ve been faced with options of red ginseng, white ginseng, Korean ginseng, American ginseng, wild ginseng, and more, it may leave you confused about which ones really help. Here are the main types of ginseng you are likely to come across:
- Panax ginseng: Ginseng, grown in Asia in places like Korea and China and dubbed Asian ginseng, Korean ginseng, or Chinese ginseng, is the most popular. Asian or Panax ginseng is also the one that’s most widely researched.
- Panax quinquefolius: Another kind of wild ginseng is also found in America and is known as American ginseng. It has properties comparable to the more widely used Asian ginseng. You need to get hold of this variety. Domesticated or farm grown ginseng has fewer therapeutic properties as it isn’t as rich in ginsenosides, the active component of ginseng responsible for many of its health benefits.
- The prefix of a color (red or white) to any ginseng refers to the way it has been processed. White ginseng is made by sun drying fresh ginseng, while red ginseng is made by first steaming fresh ginseng and then drying it out so it gets to a moisture content of under 15%.4 White ginseng is also generally peeled before drying so it doesn’t decay, while the red ginseng is processed root, skin and all. For this reason, it is sometimes believed that the red kind is richer in nutrients and, therefore, benefits.
In the benefits you’ll now read about, you will see that most research relates to Asian or Panax ginseng (Korean/Chinese). Wherever benefits apply to American wild ginseng, it has been mentioned. So when it comes to brewing your ginseng tea, be sure you’re getting the right kind.5
1. Boosts Energy Levels And Fights Fatigue
If you’re feeling low on energy and fatigued in general, ginseng tea could put a spring in your step. The reviving drink taps the energy-boosting effects of ginseng. For those with chronic fatigue issues, this could be heaven-sent as one study using 1 to 2 gm daily doses of Panax ginseng (Asian, Chinese or Korean ginseng) found.6
Researchers have also found that American ginseng could help those undergoing cancer treatment who are often faced with constant tiredness and lethargy. Dosages of between 1 and 2 gm a day were suggested in the study.7
id="2">2. Fights Stress
Both Panax and American ginseng have adaptogenic properties that can counter stress. This is because of its conducive effect on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. Ginseng has a corticosteroid-like action and by mimicking these hormones produced by the adrenal glands, it helps the body adapt better to stress.8 Panax ginseng at a dosage of 100 mg/kg has been seen to be beneficial against chronic stress in animal studies.9
3. Revives Your Sexual Health
If lethargy and poor stamina are getting in the way of a fulfilling sex life, ginseng tea could come to the rescue. Besides helping improve your stamina and energizing you so you can go longer in bed, Panax ginseng is also said to be a natural aphrodisiac. This is thanks to its ability to modulate the nervous system, relaxing you if you are stressed or tense and energizing you when you are in a slump.10 Korean red ginseng may also help men deal with erectile dysfunction.11 The ginsenosides in the root help with erections by relaxing the erectile tissue and enabling expansion or vasodilation of this tissue.12
Animal studies show that Korean red ginseng can also help with female sexual dysfunction by boosting the relaxation response of vaginal smooth muscle tissue.13 Studies among menopausal women bear this out – women who took 3 gm capsules of Korean red ginseng extracts for 2 weeks reported significant improvement in sexual arousal. The researchers concluded that red Korean red ginseng may be a good alternative remedy for menopausal women who experience diminished sexual desire and have difficulty with arousal.14
id="4">4. Improves Cognitive Function And Mood
Ginseng is quite literally good for your nerves! Both American ginseng and Panax ginseng have positive effects on the central nervous system and can perk it up.15
A reviving cup of ginseng tea could also be just the ticket when you are feeling down and out or need a pick-me-up. Researchers have found ginseng can not only help improve your cognitive performance but also has a positive effect on your mood. Studies on American ginseng confirm it can improve mood and working memory – this effect was seen in both healthy young test subjects as well as middle-aged individuals in good health who reported an improvement in cognitive performance.16
Do note that reports on just how effective ginseng can be vary depending on the chemical content of extracts, the methods used to process the ginseng, how it is handled, and even when it is harvested.19 You should consult a reputed alternative medicine practitioner about which brands and what kind of ginseng is best suited to your needs.
5. Fights Inflammation
If you’re trying to fight the damage caused by chronic inflammation, whether it’s from your diet, environmental factors, stress, or other health conditions like diabetes or obesity, a cup of ginseng tea could help your body slug it out. Studies on the ginsenosides in ginseng have also shown that they have anti-inflammatory effects which could be responsible for some of the health benefits of the root.20
The anti-obesity effects of ginseng are also being investigated. Korean red ginseng extracts helped bring a reduction in body weight, food intake, and fat content in test animals on a high-fat diet, indicating potential on this front.21
Animal studies confirm Korean red ginseng’s has anti-inflammatory properties. In this instance, it was even able to reverse some of the inflammation-linked brain damage that had occurred previously.22 American ginseng also has similar effects, with animal studies showing that it can suppress inflammation and thwart damage to DNA.23
6. May Lower Blood Sugar And Help Manage Diabetes
Ginseng tea could even help you lose weight, as one animal study into its anti-diabetic effects found. Test animals saw a reduction in weight after taking Panax ginseng berry extract at a dosage of 150 mg/kg.24
Ginseng is certainly no substitute for mainstream diabetes medication. However, it could play a role as a complementary therapy as per several studies. Researchers have found that American and Panax ginseng may help combat hyperglycemia or high blood sugar, a problem those with uncontrolled diabetes constantly grapple with. It could also help prevent the death of pancreatic beta cells and boost insulin production and reduce insulin resistance, both of which are involved in issues with blood sugar control.25 26
Its benefits extend to both healthy individuals as well as those with type 2 diabetes, as one study on American ginseng found. The test saw the post-prandial (after meal) glucose levels of both kinds of test subjects stabilize when ginseng was administered.27
7. Fights Respiratory Problems
If you’re constantly fighting the flu or bad coughs and respiratory problems, having a cup of ginseng tea may help. American ginseng could possibly help reduce the incidence of such problems and make symptoms milder when you do develop a cold or flu.28 Korean red ginseng extract has also been seen to have antiviral effects against respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), one of the leading causes of serious respiratory infections in immunosuppressed people, the elderly, and children. Even healthy individuals could take ginseng to prevent unexpected RSV infections. It could reduce the severity of an attack if it happened as well.29
Korean ginseng might also help if you have allergic rhinitis. This upper respiratory inflammatory disease results in sneezing, congestion, and nasal itching. Animal studies confirm its ability to reduce the allergic reaction and ease symptoms, possibly due to its anti-inflammatory action.30
8. Improves Appetite And Fights Digestive Problems
American ginseng is also used to help those with a sluggish appetite or appetite loss, so having a cup between meals might help digestion. If you are experiencing vomiting as a result of any digestive trouble, ginseng tea might quell that as well. It can also ease colitis or inflammation of the colon as well as gastritis or inflammation of the stomach lining.31
Animal studies show that Korean red ginseng may be able to counter the formation of ulcers, because of its ability to counter oxidative damage and improve gastric mucosal blood flow.32
9. Helps With Hair Growth
Panax ginseng, specifically reg ginseng, is a remedy for hair loss problems. The saponins in it can improve hair growth, as one animal study confirmed.33 While Panax ginseng is used in shampoos and other hair formulations for topical use, even ingesting it, as you would with ginseng tea, could help. It could especially help those impacted by stress-linked hair fall because of its adaptogenic properties and ability to counter stress.
10. Boost Skin Health
If skin care is a concern, Panax ginseng could help there too! Red Panax ginseng could be beneficial for your skin, helping with skin regeneration and hydration, and boosting circulation so your skin is well plied with nutrients. The antioxidants in it could help keep your skin looking better and less damaged by toxins. As one group of researchers found, red ginseng root extracts applied topically can help protect against photoaging of skin and increase production of collagen which keeps your skin looking supple and youthful.34 Apart from having a tea to boost skin health from within, you could also add it to your face packs.
11. May Improve Cardiovascular Health
One way to leverage ginseng’s possible heart benefits involves combining it with green tea. This refreshing drink could tap green tea’s ability to better manage high blood pressure and cholesterol ratios – factors involved in heart health.35
While studies on this are not yet definitive, ginseng tea may have the potential to help with your cardiovascular health. Some research suggests that Panax ginseng may bring a very modest reduction in blood pressure and could even have help lower lipid levels, though this needs more study.36 The ginsenosides in Korean red ginseng are also being investigated for their ability to affect other areas of cardiovascular function like improving blood circulation and inhibiting the production of reactive oxygen species which play a role in heart disease.37
12. May Have Anti-Cancer Benefits
Panax ginseng has antioxidant properties that can help your body fight off aging and a host of other problems.38 American ginseng has similar benefits.39 These antioxidant benefits also translate to a promising anti-carcinogenic effect. One study of people aged over 40 found that the incidence of cancer was lower among those who took ginseng. While sipping on ginseng tea is certainly no guarantee that you’ll ward off the dreaded C, it could help.40 Researchers have also found that some ginsenosides can inhibit the growth of several cancer cell lines, including ovarian cancer, which might pave the way for more cancer research on this potential therapy.41
Have Your Ginseng Tea Safely
Making ginseng tea is actually quite easy. Simply get your hands on the fresh root or dried powder. Bring water to the boil before allowing it to cool for a couple of minutes. Then pour it over the powder or root and steep for about 5 minutes. That’s all it takes to make a healing cup of ginseng tea!
You will need to consult your doctor on accurate dosage for your needs when you are brewing it as a tea. In general, however, using up to 2 gm of powdered ginseng a day to make your herbal tea should be fine. Ginseng usage, in amounts prescribed by alternative medicine practitioners, in the short term does not usually cause a problem. It may, however, be prudent to wait for more clinical studies on the safety of long-term usage before you have therapeutic dosages for long durations.
Prolonged usage of ginseng could also affect its effectiveness. So if you decide to take ginseng tea on a daily basis, you may want to have it for 2–3 weeks and then stop for 1–2 weeks before restarting it again for 2–3 weeks. This will allow your body breaks and help keep up the benefits of taking ginseng in the long run.
Some people may experience digestive problems or have issues with their sleep as a result of taking ginseng. Headaches are another possible side effect. Do also check with your doctor for any possible interactions with any medication you may be on. This is especially vital if you have a blood pressure problem or you are diabetic, as ginseng, especially Panax, can affect both blood pressure and blood sugar levels.42
Pregnant women and nursing mothers, children and infants should avoid having ginseng tea in general as not enough is known about possible adverse effects and it could be risky.43
|↑1, ↑37||Kim, Jong-Hoon. “Cardiovascular diseases and Panax ginseng: a review on molecular mechanisms and medical applications.” Journal of ginseng research 36, no. 1 (2012): 16.|
|↑2||Asian Ginseng.National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.|
|↑4||Lim, Chi-Yeon, Jeong-Min Moon, Bu-Yeo Kim, Se-Hyun Lim, Guem-San Lee, Hak-Sun Yu, and Su-In Cho. “Comparative study of Korean White Ginseng and Korean Red Ginseng on efficacies of OVA-induced asthma model in mice.” Journal of ginseng research 39, no. 1 (2015): 38-45.|
|↑5||Getting to the Root of Ginseng.
|↑6||Kim, Hyeong-Geug, Jung-Hyo Cho, Sa-Ra Yoo, Jin-Seok Lee, Jong-Min Han, Nam-Hun Lee, Yo-Chan Ahn, and Chang-Gue Son. “Antifatigue effects of Panax ginseng CA Meyer: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial.” PloS one 8, no. 4 (2013): e61271.|
|↑7||Barton, Debra L., Gamini S. Soori, Brent A. Bauer, Jeff A. Sloan, Patricia A. Johnson, Cesar Figueras, Steven Duane et al. “Pilot study of Panax quinquefolius (American ginseng) to improve cancer-related fatigue: a randomized, double-blind, dose-finding evaluation: NCCTG trial N03CA.” Supportive Care in Cancer 18, no. 2 (2010): 179.|
|↑8||Nocerino, Emilia, Marianna Amato, and Angelo A. Izzo. “The aphrodisiac and adaptogenic properties of ginseng.” Fitoterapia 71 (2000): S1-S5.|
|↑9||Rai, Deepak, Gitika Bhatia, Tuhinadri Sen, and Gautam Palit. “Anti-stress effects of Ginkgo biloba and Panax ginseng: a comparative study.” Journal of pharmacological sciences 93, no. 4 (2003): 458-464.|
|↑10||Sexual Health the Natural Way.
|↑11||Jang, Dai‐Ja, Myeong Soo Lee, Byung‐Cheul Shin, Young‐Cheoul Lee, and Edzard Ernst. “Red ginseng for treating erectile dysfunction: a systematic review.” British journal of clinical pharmacology 66, no. 4 (2008): 444-450.|
|↑12||Murphy, Laura L., and TONY JER‐FU LEE. “Ginseng, sex behavior, and nitric oxide.” Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 962, no. 1 (2002): 372-377.|
|↑13||Kim, Sun‐Ouck, Min Kyung Kim, Hyun‐Suk Lee, Jong Kwan Park, and Kwangsung Park. “The effect of Korean red ginseng extract on the relaxation response in isolated rabbit vaginal tissue and its mechanism.” The journal of sexual medicine 5, no. 9 (2008): 2079-2084.|
|↑14||Oh, Kyung-Jin, Myeong-Jeong Chae, Hyun-Suk Lee, Hee-Do Hong, and Kwangsung Park. “Effects of Korean red ginseng on sexual arousal in menopausal women: placebo-controlled, double-blind crossover clinical study.” The journal of sexual medicine 7, no. 4 (2010): 1469-1477.|
|↑15, ↑19||Qi, Lian-Wen, Chong-Zhi Wang, and Chun-Su Yuan. “Ginsenosides from American ginseng: chemical and pharmacological diversity.” Phytochemistry 72, no. 8 (2011): 689-699.|
|↑16||Ossoukhova, Anastasia, Lauren Owen, Karen Savage, Marjolaine Meyer, Alvin Ibarra, Marc Roller, Andrew Pipingas, Keith Wesnes, and Andrew Scholey. “Improved working memory performance following administration of a single dose of American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius L.) to healthy middle‐age adults.” Human Psychopharmacology: Clinical and Experimental 30, no. 2 (2015): 108-122.|
|↑17||Kim, Hee Jin, Pitna Kim, and Chan Young Shin. “A comprehensive review of the therapeutic and pharmacological effects of ginseng and ginsenosides in central nervous system.” Journal of ginseng research 37, no. 1 (2013): 8.|
|↑18||Lee, Soon-Tae, Kon Chu, Ji-Young Sim, Jae-Hyeok Heo, and Manho Kim. “Panax ginseng enhances cognitive performance in Alzheimer disease.” Alzheimer disease & associated disorders 22, no. 3 (2008): 222-226.|
|↑20||Lee, Davy CW, Cindy LH Yang, Stanley CC Chik, James CB Li, Jian-hui Rong, Godfrey CF Chan, and Allan SY Lau. “Bioactivity-guided identification and cell signaling technology to delineate the immunomodulatory effects of Panax ginseng on human promonocytic U937 cells.” Journal of translational medicine 7, no. 1 (2009): 34.|
|↑21||Kim, Ji Hyun, Dae Hyun Hahm, Deck Chun Yang, Jang Hyun Kim, Hye Jung Lee, and Insop Shim. “Effect of crude saponin of Korean red ginseng on high-fat diet-induced obesity in the rat.” Journal of pharmacological sciences 97, no. 1 (2005): 124-131.|
|↑22||Lee, Jong Seok, Han Sung Choi, Sung Wook Kang, Joo-Ho Chung, Hun Kuk Park, Ju Yeon Ban, Oh Young Kwon, Hoon Pyo Hong, and Young Gwan Ko. “Therapeutic effect of Korean red ginseng on inflammatory cytokines in rats with focal cerebral ischemia/reperfusion injury.” The American journal of Chinese medicine 39, no. 01 (2011): 83-94.|
|↑23||Jin, Yu, Venkata S. Kotakadi, Lei Ying, Anne B. Hofseth, Xiangli Cui, Patricia A. Wood, Anthony Windust et al. “American ginseng suppresses inflammation and DNA damage associated with mouse colitis.” Carcinogenesis 29, no. 12 (2008): 2351-2359.|
|↑24||Xie, J. T., Y. P. Zhou, L. Dey, and A. S. Attele. “Ginseng berry reduces blood glucose and body weight in db/db mice.” Phytomedicine 9, no. 3 (2002): 254.|
|↑25||Attele, Anoja S., Yun-Ping Zhou, Jing-Tian Xie, Ji An Wu, Liu Zhang, Lucy Dey, William Pugh, Paul A. Rue, Kenneth S. Polonsky, and Chun-Su Yuan. “Antidiabetic effects of Panax ginseng berry extract and the identification of an effective component.” Diabetes 51, no. 6 (2002): 1851-1858.|
|↑26, ↑27||Luo, John Zeqi, and Luguang Luo. “Ginseng on hyperglycemia: effects and mechanisms.” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 6, no. 4 (2009): 423-427.|
|↑28, ↑31||American ginseng. U.S. National Library of Medicine.|
|↑29||Lee, Jong Seok, Eun-Ju Ko, Hye Suk Hwang, Yu-Na Lee, Young-Man Kwon, Min-Chul Kim, and Sang-Moo Kang. “Antiviral activity of ginseng extract against respiratory syncytial virus infection.” International journal of molecular medicine 34, no. 1 (2014): 183-190.|
|↑30||Jung, Joo Hyun, Il Gyu Kang, Dae Young Kim, You Jin Hwang, and Seon Tae Kim. “The effect of Korean red ginseng on allergic inflammation in a murine model of allergic rhinitis.” Journal of ginseng research 37, no. 2 (2013): 167.|
|↑32||Oyagi, Atsushi, Kenjirou Ogawa, Mamoru Kakino, and Hideaki Hara. “Protective effects of a gastrointestinal agent containing Korean red ginseng on gastric ulcer models in mice.” BMC complementary and alternative medicine 10, no. 1 (2010): 45.|
|↑33||Matsuda, Hideaki, Miho Yamazaki, Yusuke Asanuma, and Michinori Kubo. “Promotion of hair growth by ginseng radix on cultured mouse vibrissal hair follicles.” Phytotherapy Research 17, no. 7 (2003): 797-800.|
|↑34||Kim, Young Gon, Maho Sumiyoshi, Masahiro Sakanaka, and Yoshiyuki Kimura. “Effects of ginseng saponins isolated from red ginseng on ultraviolet B-induced skin aging in hairless mice.” European journal of pharmacology 602, no. 1 (2009): 148-156.|
|↑35||Onakpoya, I., E. Spencer, C. Heneghan, and M. Thompson. “The effect of green tea on blood pressure and lipid profile: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials.” Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases 24, no. 8 (2014): 823-836.|
|↑36||Buettner, Catherine, Gloria Y. Yeh, Russell S. Phillips, Murray A. Mittleman, and Ted J. Kaptchuk. “Systematic review of the effects of ginseng on cardiovascular risk factors.” Annals of Pharmacotherapy 40, no. 1 (2006): 83-95.|
|↑38||Kim, Hyeong-Geug, Sa-Ra Yoo, Hye-Jung Park, Nam-Hun Lee, Jang-Woo Shin, Rekha Sathyanath, Jung-Hyo Cho, and Chang-Gue Son. “Antioxidant effects of Panax ginseng CA Meyer in healthy subjects: a randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial.” Food and Chemical Toxicology 49, no. 9 (2011): 2229-2235.|
|↑39||Kitts, David D., Arosha N. Wijewickreme, and Chun Hu. “Antioxidant properties of a North American ginseng extract.” Molecular and cellular biochemistry 203, no. 1-2 (2000): 1-10.|
|↑40||Panax ginseng. American Academy of Family Physicians.|
|↑41||Wang, Jia-He, Jian-Fei Nao, Meng Zhang, and Ping He. “20 (s)-ginsenoside Rg3 promotes apoptosis in human ovarian cancer HO-8910 cells through PI3K/Akt and XIAP pathways.” Tumor Biology 35, no. 12 (2014): 11985-11994.|
|↑42, ↑43||Asian Ginseng. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.|