India may be the home of Ayurveda but Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has just as many miracles in its kit. Ginseng is one gem from the treasury of TCM. But, naming it a healing herb might not do justice to the extraordinary plant it is. You can tell a herb holds miraculous powers when its name translated to “cure all” right?

Essentially an adaptogen or a tonic, ginseng aids in curing all kinds of health problems by building and maintaining the body functions. Since Chinese medicine employs a holistic approach to well being, it is not difficult to understand how ginseng rose to its glory so quickly. In fact, it is believed that this plant was much more valuable than gold in ancient China and it was a death sentence for normal people to keep ginseng at home for it was the food of the royalty.

Interestingly, while China was restricting the use of ginseng to the royalty, American Indians were using it for healing all their ailments. Though American and Chinese ginseng are two different varieties and vary in some qualities, they have similar health benefits.

Did you know?

Apart from translating as “cure-all” in Greek, the name ginseng also has a Chinese translation, “man root”. This may be due to the human-like appearance of ginseng root.

True to the legends, ginseng has kept its title as the revitalising plant in the modern times too. It is highly regarded for its energising benefits and is used as a health supplement for improving endurance and stress.

But that is not all.

Read on to find the many miracles of this healing extraordinaire.

Some basic facts about ginseng:

  • Botanical name: Panax ginseng (Oriental ginseng)
  • Family: Araliaceae
  • Common name(s): Ginseng,
  • Parts used: Roots
  • Native region and geographical distribution: Ginseng varieties are native to China, Japan, Korea and America. Some lesser-known ginseng varieties are also found in Himalayas and Vietnam.
  • Energetics: Warming (Chinese ginseng)
  1. Korean ginseng, American ginseng and Siberian ginseng
  2. Red ginseng and white ginseng
  3. Ginseng health benefits
  4. Ginseng uses: Ginseng tea
  5. Ginseng side effects

Ginseng has a number of varieties, depending on the area of its cultivation/origin and the amount of ginsenosides (a chemical compound) present in it. Korean ginseng or Panax ginseng is known as true ginseng and American ginseng or Panax quinquefolius is its closely related cousin.

However, studies suggest that Korean ginseng is warming to the body while American ginseng is cooling. The latter is much milder than its Chinese subtype.

Apart from the above two varieties, some other herbs are also named as ginseng because of their rejuvenating and adaptogenic properties. These include:

  • Siberian ginseng: Eleutherococcus senticocus, it belongs to an entirely different genus and has a stimulating effect like that of true ginseng. A native to Northern Asia, it is comparatively cheaper than Korean ginseng.
  • Indian ginseng: The name Indian ginseng is actually for ashwagandha, which is an excellent adaptogenic tonic. But, it is known as Withania somnifera and does not belong to the ginseng genus Panax.
  • Brazillian ginseng: Yet another pseudo-ginseng, it is used for balancing various bodily functions and is also called as a cure-all

This is yet another variation of ginseng. Although, you might be relieved to know that both red and white ginseng come from the same plant, that is, true ginseng. The only difference is that white ginseng is the dried form of fresh ginseng while red ginseng is prepared by steaming fresh ginseng before drying until it loses more than 85% of its moisture. It has been reported that red ginseng holds greater therapeutic value than white ginseng because of the additional steaming process.

So, we have been hearing loads about the supposed miracle that ginseng is. But, how true are those beliefs and does it actually have a scientific basis for its use? You might be happy to know that true ginseng has been studied extensively due to its fabled benefits. And what’s best is the fables are no longer a figment in history books but ginseng has actually found its use in mainstream medicine. Let us have a look at the healing benefits of ginseng.

Ginseng benefits for men

Ginseng is most commonly known for its benefits in improving and maintaining sexual performance and in alleviating the symptoms of sexual disorders in men. Ginseng has over and again proved its efficacy and importance in enhancing male sexual health.

Traditionally, ginseng is used for improving libido. Animal studies suggest that ginseng improves libido and increases testosterone levels in body.

In a clinical study involving 66 male subjects, Asian ginseng was found to improve total testosterone levels and the levels of FSH (follicle stimulating hormone), which is important for maintaining testosterone levels.

American ginseng is reported to improve libido by stimulating GABA (a neurotransmitter) function in the brain.

Both preclinical and clinical studies demonstrate the efficiency of ginseng in the treatment of erectile dysfunction. While ginseng extracts have been reported to improve relaxation and blood flow to the penis, clinical studies indicate that consuming 900 to 1000 mg of red ginseng three times a day, for 1 to 2 weeks can significantly improve erection and penetration.

Ginseng not only improves libido and erectile dysfunctions in men but also improves sperm count and motility.

Clinical studies indicate that oligospermia (low levels of sperms in semen) occurs due to DNA damage or dysfunction and administration of ginseng markedly improves total sperm count.

Improvement in sperm motility has also been observed within 1 to 2 hours of taking ginseng. This is due to the presence of ginsenosides in the ginseng root which improves the function of nitric oxide synthase, an enzyme that is responsible for modulating nitric oxide levels in the body, which, in turn, is crucial for sperm motility.

Not only this, several studies report the benefits of ginseng in improving fertility related issues that arise due to conditions like diabetes, environmental toxins and cancer treatment.

Being an adaptogen, it may also relieve stress and improve physical strength, thus improving sexual performance.

myUpchar doctors after many years of research have created myUpchar Ayurveda Madhurodh Capsule by using 100% original and pure herbs of Ayurveda. This ayurvedic medicine has been recommended by our doctors to lakhs of people for diabetes with good results.
Sugar Tablet
₹699  ₹999  30% OFF

Ginseng benefits for women

While ginseng is well studied for male sexual problems, the evidence for its use in female sexual health is insufficient. Most of the studies include the use and benefits of ginseng for postmenopausal women. Ginseng benefits for women are listed below:

  • Randomised clinical trials indicate a positive effect of ginseng on menopausal depression, anxiety and hot flashes.
  • It improves sexual desire in postmenopausal women, as demonstrated by these clinical trials. But, no improvements could be observed on female sexual functions by ginseng administration. Similarly, it doesn’t show any effect on the endometrium thickness in postmenopausal women.
  • The adaptogenic properties of ginseng may also be worth mentioning here. Being a health tonic, it aids in improving the overall health in women and keeping diseases at bay.

Ginseng benefits for skin

A healthy and glowing skin is a dream nurtured by many. Who does not want to keep their youth a bit longer? Our skin fibres tend to break down with age causing the skin to sag and be wrinkled. Also, an increase in free radicals is directly associated with signs of premature ageing including dark spots and wrinkles. It also worsens UV damage. Ginseng is an excellent antioxidant and an anti-inflammatory agent, which makes it the perfect skin healing and anti ageing herb.

Clinical studies indicate an improvement in skin wrinkles by a regular application of ginseng extract cream. In another study, ginseng was found to improve the expression of procollagen gene, which is responsible for skin structure. A marked reduction in face wrinkles was noted in all the subjects within 24 weeks.

In an animal-based study, Korean ginseng reduced UV damage and increased procollagen protein by inhibiting damage. The study concluded that Korean ginseng could be used to revert UV-induced skin damage and photo ageing (ageing of the skin due to the harmful rays of the sun).

As an antioxidant, it may combat negative effects of free radicals on the skin, while the tonic effects of this herb may add onto its many skin benefits, giving a positively youthful glow to your skin.

Ginseng benefits for mental health

Ginseng is a rejuvenating and stimulatory herb. Quite obviously it has positive effects on the central nervous system. In vivo (animal-based) studies have depicted a clear association between ginseng consumption and an improvement in cognition (thinking and understanding skills).

In a human-based study, American ginseng was reported to improve cognitive function significantly. The Journal of Ginseng Research summarised the efficiency of ginseng as a neuroprotective herb. As per the findings of this study, ginseng has many benefits for the brain.

  • Ginseng interferes with and improves brain functions in Alzheimer’s thereby improving its the symptoms. Clinical trials demonstrate an improvement in the cognitive functioning of AD patients on regular administration of red ginseng extracts. Moreover, their cognitive levels showed a gradual decline on the discontinuation of ginseng.
  • Ginseng has also been reported to exhibit some efficiency in improving Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease. Though, much more research is still needed to confirm its safety and efficacy in human trials.
  • Several preclinical and clinical trials indicate that the ginsenosides present in ginseng are useful for alleviating depression and anxiety, especially in postmenopausal women.
  • In vitro (lab-based) and in vivo (animal-based) studies suggest that red ginseng extracts can significantly reduce morphine addiction and withdrawal symptoms. Also, wild ginseng inhibits the release of stress and anxiety hormones from the brain which, in turn, aids in reducing morphine withdrawal symptoms.
  • In a double-blind clinical trial, involving 64 subjects, American ginseng extracts were found to improve schizophrenia symptoms and memory within 4 weeks of administration.

It won’t be wrong to say that ginseng shows great potential as an alternative treatment for brain disorders.

(Read more: How to increase brain power)

Ginseng for weight loss

Obesity and excessive weight gain is a problem faced by millions over the world. Mainly caused due to a sedentary lifestyle and overeating, obesity increases the risk of several diseases including diabetes and high blood pressure. The current anti-obesity therapies don’t show lasting effects. In fact, most of the drug treatments have some side effects. Consecutively, there is an increasing trend towards holistic measures.

Several studies suggest that ginseng is useful for weight loss by interfering with energy metabolism, which is one of the key factors in the pathogenesis of obesity.  Preclinical studies suggest that ginseng can suppress appetite and stimulate the release of excess fat along with faeces. Ginseng has also been suggested to reduce fat synthesis and improve energy metabolism in vitro models.

In a recent clinical study, ginseng supplements were found to reduce body weight and improve gut microbiota. The latter resulting in a decreased fat deposition in the gut.

So, what are you waiting for? Ask your nutritionist about how perfect a weight loss supplement that ginseng is!

(Read more: Diet chart for weight loss)

If you are tired of dieting and exercising and are not able to lose weight, then use myUpchar Ayurveda Medarodh Fat Burner Capsule, it has no side effects, order it today and avail the benefits.

Ginseng for diabetes

Diabetes is an endocrinal disorder, which is characterised by an impaired glucose metabolism due to an inability of the body to produce or utilise insulin properly. Clinical and preclinical evidence demonstrate that American ginseng is an excellent hypoglycemic. Marked reduction has been noted in blood glucose levels and insulin resistance on regular use of American ginseng.

However, when it comes to the hypoglycemic potential of Korean ginseng, the evidence is quite controversial. While some studies suggest that this variety of ginseng root does affect blood glucose levels positively, ginseng administration was shown to increase blood sugar levels in an RCT (randomised control trial). This may be because of the difference in the ginsenoside content in two ginseng varieties.

So, much more study is needed in to confirm the efficiency and usage of ginseng in the treatment of diabetes.

Ginseng benefits for heart

Ginseng is a panacea for health and this does not exclude the cardiovascular system. It controls vasomotor functions (relaxing and contracting blood vessels) thereby aiding people with blood pressure problems. By dilating blood vessels, it helps in reducing high blood pressure while it helps reduce damage to the cardiac tissue due to its antioxidant properties.

By increasing the production of nitric oxide (NO), it can inhibit platelet aggregation. This can be highly beneficial for people who have a risk of thrombosis (blood clot formation in the body).

High cholesterol is one of the major risk factors in heart diseases, the excess fat tends to accumulate in blood vessels and form plaques which narrows arteries. This condition is known as atherosclerosis and can significantly increase the risk of heart attack. Studies suggest that ginseng varieties exhibit potent hypolipidemic (reduces lipids) and antioxidant properties. This means that it not only leads to a reduced cholesterol level but also reduces lipid peroxidation, which is the underlying cause of plaque formation.

Additionally, ginseng modulates calcium channels in body which are very important for maintaining cardiac functions.

(Read more: Heart disease prevention)

Ginseng for fatigue

In the busy lifestyle of the modern world, it is common to feel exhausted. While it's easy to restore energy by taking adequate rest, studies suggest that chronic fatigue can effect people regardless of their age or gender. So, if you are thinking your age has something to do with all that tiredness, think again. Chronic fatigue is linked to anxiety, depression and stress apart from lifestyle and diet. Fortunately, ginseng has a solution for all of these.

In traditional Chinese medicine, ginseng is believed to improve Qi or chi, which is the energy flowing through our body. Studies suggest that this traditional claim may be true as ginseng extracts improve the levels of ATP (the energy currency of the body) and the mitochondrial functions of the cells. Mitochondria is an organelle present in human cells, which is responsible for generating energy for our day-to-day functions. Isn’t it amazing how traditional beliefs are seated in scientific facts?

Ginseng has been found to improve physical endurance and reduce fatigue along with increasing the aerobic capacity of the lungs, which refers to the ability of the cardiovascular system to supply oxygen to the tissues.

According an article in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, regular ginseng consumption improves energy levels and reduces fatigue. It was further added that both American and true ginseng show similar effects in fatigue improvement and hence need extensive clinical studies to ascertain their dosage and safety.

Ginseng for immune system

A cure-all may be lacking in something if it doesn’t improve immune function in some way. Right?

Ginseng is a well-known immunostimulator. It not only improves the inherent capacity of the body to fight infections but also stimulates the production of the immune system cells, making you more resistant to disease and infections.

Animal-based studies suggest that ginseng extracts specifically improve WBC and T cells. In a recent in vivo (animal-based) study, the immunomodulating benefits of ginseng are attributed to the polysaccharides, saponins and ginsenoside present in ginseng root.

Furthermore, ginseng inhibits the formation of inflammatory cytokines thereby reducing the symptoms of inflammation. Ginseng extracts have been found to reduce inflammatory response and mortality in sepsis.

(Read more: How to improve immunity)

Other benefits of ginseng

  • Ginseng is an efficient antimicrobial agent. It has demonstrated significant inhibition of common infectious bacteria like Staphylococcus aureus, P.aeruginosa and Helicobacter pylori. It improves the immune response of the body against the influenza A virus and improves the potential of treatment therapies for AIDS.
  • The anti-inflammatory effects of ginseng may be beneficial in reducing joint inflammation and pain associated with arthritis.
  • Ginseng also reduces asthma-related inflammation, as reported by animal-based studies.
  • It can prevent the growth and spread of cancer cells along with reducing the side effects of chemotherapy.

Now you know just how beneficial ginseng is for your health. But, how exactly are you supposed to add it to your diet? Can you eat it raw or it can only be taken as health supplements? Well, the answer is yes to both. You can consume ginseng raw, but it is also available in the form of capsules and tablets. In Asian cuisines, ginseng is added to various recipes including soups, syrups and sauces to add a slight bitter note.

You can opt for a tincture or an infusion of ginseng or just put a bit of dried or fresh ginseng into a tea. Here is an easy recipe for preparing ginseng tea at home.

  • Boil a cup of water in a pan
  • Put about 2 gram of ginseng powder or 5 slices of ginseng in a cup and pour boiling water over it.
  • Let it sit for a few minutes (depending on how strong you want the tea)
  • Strain and enjoy
  • Don’t forget to put a teaspoon or 2 of honey as ginseng is quite bitter.

Alternatively, you can buy ginseng tea bags and save yourself the hassle.

Despite being the perfect herb for human health, ginseng may have some side effects, which need to be kept in mind before adding it as a health supplement to your diet.

  • Some of the common side effects of ginseng consumption include headache and gastrointestinal disorders.
  • Being an anti-clotting agent, ginseng may interact with certain clot-dissolving drugs like warfarin, leading to a thin blood constituency.
  • American ginseng is a potent hypoglycemic. So, if you are a diabetic on medication, it is best to talk to a doctor before taking ginseng supplements.
  • Ginseng consumption has been found to induce allergic reactions and anaphylaxis in some people.
  • Ginseng is highly beneficial for male reproductive problems but it has estrogen-like actions. Individual case studies report gynecomastia (breast swelling in men) on regular consumption of ginseng.
  • Regular consumption of ginseng over an extended period of time may cause vaginal bleeding, as indicated by case studies.
  • Ginseng is not considered safe for pregnant and nursing mothers as it may have detrimental effects on foetal brain development. Though the evidence is not conclusive, it is best that you keep away from this root during the gestation period.
  • It may cause liver toxicity and hypertension in some, though, the exact reason why it affects some people adversely is unknown.

Medicines / Products that contain Ginseng


  1. Park EY et al. Efficacy comparison of Korean ginseng and American ginseng on body temperature and metabolic parameters. Am J Chin Med. 2014;42(1):173-87. PMID: 24467543
  2. Almeida IV et al. In vivo antimutagenic activity of the medicinal plants Pfaffia glomerata (Brazilian ginseng) and Ginkgo biloba. Genet Mol Res. 2017 Sep 27;16(3). PMID: 28973764
  3. Chi-Yeon Lim et al. Comparative study of Korean White Ginseng and Korean Red Ginseng on efficacies of OVA-induced asthma model in mice . J Ginseng Res. 2015 Jan; 39(1): 38–45. PMID: 25535475
  4. Kar Wah Leung, Alice ST Wong. Ginseng and male reproductive function . Spermatogenesis. 2013 Jul 1; 3(3): e26391. PMID: 24381805
  5. Tode T et al. Effect of Korean red ginseng on psychological functions in patients with severe climacteric syndromes. Int J Gynaecol Obstet. 1999 Dec;67(3):169-74. PMID: 10659900
  6. Rahele Kargozar, Hoda Azizi, Roshanak Salari. A review of effective herbal medicines in controlling menopausal symptoms . Electron Physician. 2017 Nov; 9(11): 5826–5833. PMID: 29403626
  7. Oh KJ et al. Effects of Korean red ginseng on sexual arousal in menopausal women: placebo-controlled, double-blind crossover clinical study. J Sex Med. 2010 Apr;7(4 Pt 1):1469-77. PMID: 20141583
  8. Ho Seok Chung et al. The Effect of Korean Red Ginseng on Sexual Function in Premenopausal Women: Placebo-Controlled, Double-Blind, Crossover Clinical Trial . Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2015; 2015: 913158. PMID: 26798402
  9. Hye Won Lee et al. Ginseng for managing menopausal woman's health: A systematic review of double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trials . Medicine (Baltimore). 2016 Sep; 95(38): e4914. PMID: 27661038
  10. Hye-Bin Yeo et al. Effects of Korean Red Ginseng on Cognitive and Motor Function: A Double-blind, Randomized, Placebo-controlled Trial . J Ginseng Res. 2012 Apr; 36(2): 190–197. PMID: 23717119
  11. Andrew Scholey et al. Effects of American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) on neurocognitive function: an acute, randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study . Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2010 Oct; 212(3): 345–356. PMID: 20676609
  12. Hee Jin Kim et al. A comprehensive review of the therapeutic and pharmacological effects of ginseng and ginsenosides in central nervous system . J Ginseng Res. 2013 Mar; 37(1): 8–29. PMID: 23717153
  13. Chen EY, Hui CL. HT1001, a proprietary North American ginseng extract, improves working memory in schizophrenia: a double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Phytother Res. 2012 Aug;26(8):1166-72. PMID: 22213250
  14. Health Harvard Publishing. Harvard Medical School [Internet]. Tired of being fatigued. Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
  15. National Institute on Aging [internet]: US Department of Health and Human Services; Fatigue in Older Adults
  16. National Health Service [Internet]. UK; Obesity.
  17. Zhipeng Li, Geun Eog Ji. Ginseng and obesity. J Ginseng Res. 2018 Jan; 42(1): 1–8. PMID: 29348715
  18. Chang Ho Lee, Jong-Hoon Kim. A review on the medicinal potentials of ginseng and ginsenosides on cardiovascular diseases . J Ginseng Res. 2014 Jul; 38(3): 161–166. PMID: 25378989
  19. Sievenpiper JL, Arnason JT, Leiter LA, Vuksan V. Null and opposing effects of Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng C.A. Meyer) on acute glycemia: results of two acute dose escalation studies. J Am Coll Nutr. 2003 Dec;22(6):524-32. PMID: 14684758
  20. Hwang E et al. Efficacy and Safety of Enzyme-Modified Panax ginseng for Anti-Wrinkle Therapy in Healthy Skin: A Single-Center, Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study. Rejuvenation Res. 2015 Oct;18(5):449-57. PMID: 25867599
  21. Kang TH et al. Effects of red ginseng extract on UVB irradiation-induced skin aging in hairless mice. J Ethnopharmacol. 2009 Jun 25;123(3):446-51. PMID: 19501277
  22. Jia ZY et al. [Comparative study of main components of ginseng on immune function of rats]. Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi. 2014 Sep;39(17):3363-6.PMID: 25522629
  23. Lim YJ et al. Suppressive effects of ginsan on the development of allergic reaction in murine asthmatic model. Int Arch Allergy Immunol. 2009;150(1):32-42. PMID: 19339800
  24. Wong AS, Che CM, Leung KW. Recent advances in ginseng as cancer therapeutics: a functional and mechanistic overview. Nat Prod Rep. 2015 Feb;32(2):256-72. PMID: 25347695
  25. Doo Jin Paik, Chang Ho Lee. Review of cases of patient risk associated with ginseng abuse and misuse . J Ginseng Res. 2015 Apr; 39(2): 89–93. PMID: 26045681
Read on app
Ask your health query from live doctors now!