Ginseng is probably one of the most popular herbs/roots in the field of alternative medicine. In traditional Chinese medicine, it is being used to cure for asthma, weak pulse, indigestion, lack of appetite, rectal prolapse, hypertension, diabetes, insomnia, angina, congestive heart failure, and heart palpitations. In western countries, ginseng is frequently promoted as an aid to promote longevity, boost energy levels, improve memory and increase libido. However, please take note that each variety (yes, there are several types of ginseng) is associated with different benefits.
Types of Ginseng
Below are the most popular varieties that are often subject of researches and studies for their possible benefits to mental health and quality of life as a whole.
American ginseng (Panax Quinquefolius) has long been used for fighting fatigue, improving sexual performance, and improving cellular health in general. Although some studies presented no conclusive evidence of such effects, there have been more recent studies that prove the efficacy of this variety in improving mental functions.
In a recent study of 52 healthy volunteers, ages 40-60 years, subjects were given 200 mg of American Ginseng or a matching placebo according to a double-blind, placebo-controlled, balanced, crossover design. The result suggests that “American ginseng improved cognitive performance on ‘Working Memory’ factor at 3 h compared to placebo. Similar effects were observed in one of the two tasks making up this factor, spatial working memory, though there were no significant effects on mood or blood glucose levels.”
A clinical study has been conducted at the Kyungpook National University School of Medicine in Korea
among subjects ages 6 to 15 years old to test the effect of Korean red ginseng (Panax) on children with ADHD symptoms. Subjects were randomized into a Korean red ginseng group who received one pouch (1g) of korean red ginseng extract twice a day, and a control group who received one pouch of placebo twice a day. “The KRG group had significantly decreased inattention/hyperactivity scores compared with the control group at week 8, which suggests that KRG extract may be an effective and safe alternative treatment for children with inattention and hyperactivity/impulsivity symptoms.”
Indian ginseng or Withania Somnifera Has long been believed to have a variety of neuroprotective effects, might improve some forms of cognition, and likely a powerful anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory. In Ayurvedric medicine, this variety is being used to treat almost all disorders that affect the human health, including arthritis, anxiety, trouble sleeping (insomnia), tumors, tuberculosis, asthma, a skin condition marked by white patchiness (leukoderma), bronchitis, backache, fibromyalgia, menstrual problems, hiccups, and chronic liver disease. It is also used as an “adaptogen” to help the body cope with daily stress, and as a general tonic. So far, there isn’t enough information to judge whether it is effective for any of them.
How to take it
The nutrients of this plant are typically found in its root. It is available as liquid extracts, solid extracts, powders, capsules, and tablets, tinctures and as dried or cut root for tea. Below are the most common formulations:
Supplement – For optimal nutrient absorption, ginseng root that’s ground into a powder or tablet form are the best options. Many nootropic supplements, such as Brain Booster, include ginseng extract into their ingredients and pair it to other brain boosting natural herbs like bacopa and ginkgo for optimum results.
Tea – Ginseng in tea form is good, however, extra caution must be observed when deciding to go for a tea because there are studies that show that it can cause discomfort if taken in amounts greater than the recommended dosage. For daily use of ginseng usually 1 slice of quality mature root (about 2 grams). If you anticipate a long and difficult day, overcoming morning hangover , or to one slice is not enough, you can increase the dose accordingly.
The amount of ginseng depends on the situation and individual needs, so this makes it hard to establish a standard dose. It should be protected from light and moisture to retain the effectiveness of its medicinal properties.