American Ginseng – Review the Latest Research

Full Disclosure

American Ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) is a native plant in North America that is used in herbal medicine. It is a member of the ivy family. The American ginseng roots are available in whole form and are used in nutritional supplements and teas.

American Ginseng is thought to be an adaptogen that some assert can assist the body with emotional or physical stress. American Ginseng is also known for its powerful antioxidant properties that guard against cell damage.

Some evidence suggests that American Ginseng may help lower blood sugar levels, ease fatigue, and decrease the severity of flu and colds as a supplement.

This article examines the possible benefits and uses of American Ginseng. It also outlines possible negative effects, interactions, and recommended dosages.

Supplement Facts

  • The active ingredient(s): Ginsenosides, polysaccharides and terpenes, amino acids, phenolic compounds, flavonoids, volatile oil Vitamins, minerals, and vitamins
  • Alternate name(s): Baie Rouge, Canadian ginseng, Panax quinquefolius, red berry
  • Legal Status: It is sold over the counter (OTC) within the United States.
  • Suggested dosage range: 200-400 milligrams two times a day for as long as six months
  • Safety factors Not recommended during lactation or pregnancy or for those who have cancers that are hormone sensitive; could alter blood sugar levels and induce insomnia2

Types of American Ginseng

American Ginseng is a distinct kind of ginseng used in traditional Chinese medicine. American ginseng and Asian Ginseng (Panax the ginseng) are considered to be true Ginseng because they are both organic and contain a chemical known as ginsenoside.

However, American ginseng has a different chemical composition and “cooler” yin characteristics than Asian ginseng. It also has fewer stimulants. Due to this, American Ginseng is widely exported to Asia, where it is appreciated for its cooling and soothing properties.

Siberian Ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus) isn't a real ginseng. It is a tiny woody tree with blackberry-like fruits found in northeastern Asia. Although it is utilized in traditional Chinese remedies, neither the berries, stalks, leaves, nor roots contain the ginsenoside.

Uses of American Ginseng

The evidence supporting the health advantages of American Ginseng is not extensive. The majority of the evidence comes from animal and lab research, and human trials aren't as well-studied.

However, a growing amount of research suggests that American Ginseng can be beneficial in treating fatigue, memory loss, diabetes, and viral respiratory infections such as colds and influenza.

Fatigue

A 2018 review of four studies indicates that American ginseng could help alleviate fatigue caused by chronic illnesses ranging in severity from chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) to cancer. The most significant benefit was observed in those who consumed 2,200 milligrams (mg) daily for 8 weeks.

Similar results were observed in a review from 2019 that looked at the impact of American Ginseng on patients suffering from fatigue related to cancer. This study found that the beneficial effect was most evident in those receiving active treatment, such as radiotherapy or chemotherapy.

Additionally, American ginseng does not interfere with chemotherapy drugs like tamoxifen methotrexate, doxorubicin, or fluorouracil.

Memory

The evidence isn't conclusive, but American Ginseng can enhance cognitive functioning in certain individuals. Cognitive functioning refers to the capacity to develop, think about, reason about, and retain information.

A study published in 2015 found that healthy individuals who were given only 200 mg of an American extract of ginseng (called Cereboost) had increased working memory, peaking within 3 hours of receiving the dosage. The results were limited due to the small size of the research (52 adults) and the absence of an uncontrolled group (meaning that the study participants were those who received a placebo).

A 2022 study that included 60 adults showed improvements that lasted longer with working memory when they took 200 mg of Cereboost daily for two weeks. The control group was also considered in this study; however, the results were hampered because the manufacturer, Naturex SA, funded the study.

A separate study published in 2012 found that the use of an American ginseng extract that was taken twice a day for four weeks enhanced the performance of the brains of patients who suffer from schizophrenia compared with an identical set of adults receiving a placebo.

Diabetes

A review in 2014 of 16 trials on ginseng concluded that the blood sugar level was lowered slightly when taking the ginseng. Three of the studies focused on American Ginseng in particular.

A study conducted in 2019 that involved 24 people who had well-controlled type 2 diabetes found that a dose of 3,000 mg of American ginseng daily was influential in helping to control blood sugar levels. The study concluded that at the end of the eight-week trial, patients who were given American ginseng experienced lower hemoglobin levels, fasting blood sugar levels, and systolic blood pressure than people who received a placebo.

The results were limited because participants' blood sugars were controlled by prescription medications. There is currently no evidence to suggest that ginseng can control diabetes alone.

Cold and Flu

According to a review of studies published in the Journal of Complementary and Alternative Medicine, American ginseng may protect against common respiratory illnesses such as colds and flu. This was in agreement with previous studies in which American Ginseng was found to decrease the likelihood and severity of flu and colds for older adults who have weak immune systems.

A study published in Complementary Therapy and Medicine indicated that American Ginseng can help in the prevention or treatment of seasonal respiratory illnesses in some people; however, the evidence was insufficient to draw a definitive conclusion.

Additional Uses

Studies have begun to investigate American Ginseng in these conditions

  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Ischemic stroke
  • Heart failure
  • Being overweight
  • Cancer

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved American Ginseng for treating or preventing any health illness. Ginseng is not recommended as a substitute for medicines prescribed by your physician.

What Are the Side Effects of American Ginseng?

American Ginseng is generally considered safe. In clinical studies, dosages of 2,000 mg per day were tolerated well and showed the same number of side reactions as placebo.

Potential side effects include:

  • Nausea
  • Insomnia
  • Headache
  • Rash
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Low blood sugar
  • Diarrhea
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • The pain in the breast

The long-term effects of ginseng aren't fully understood.

Precautions

Certain groups of people must be aware of the specific risks associated with American ginseng and might have to steer clear of it altogether. These include:

  • The mother and baby: American ginseng contains ginsenoside, a compound associated with animal birth problems. It is unclear if using American ginseng during breastfeeding is secure.
  • Conditions that are estrogen-sensitive conditions, like breast cancer, cancers of the uterus, endometriosis, ovarian cancer, or uterine fibroids, could be made worse by ginsenoside's estrogen-like activities.
  • Sleeping disorders Insomnia: Excessive doses of American Ginseng can cause trouble getting to sleep.
  • Schizophrenia High doses of American Ginseng can cause increased levels of agitation among people with schizophrenia.
  • Surgery: American ginseng should be stopped 2 weeks before surgical procedures due to the effect on blood sugar levels.

Dosage: How Much American Ginseng Should I Take?

There isn't a recommended dose of American Ginseng in any form. Don't exceed the recommended dose on the product's label, or consult your physician for guidance.

American Ginseng has been studied in the following doses:

  • Adults 200-400 mg taken twice daily for 3 to 6 months
  • Children aged 3-12 years: 4.5 to 26 milligrams per kilogram (mg/kg) taken by mouth every day for three days

In these dosages, American ginseng is unlikely to cause toxic effects. In higher doses, typically about 15g (1,500 mg) or more daily–some sufferers develop “ginseng addiction syndrome,” which is characterized by dizziness, diarrhea, the appearance of a rash on the skin, heart palpitations, and depression.

Drug Interactions

American Ginseng can be incompatible with prescription or over-the-counter supplements and medications. They include:

  • Coumadin (warfarin): American ginseng may reduce the effectiveness of blood thinners and increase the chance of blood clotting.
  • Monoamine oxide inhibitors (MAOIs): Combining American Ginseng with MAOI antidepressants, such as Zelapar (selegiline) as well as Parnate (tranylcypromine) may result in restlessness, anxiety as well as manic episodes or difficulties sleeping.
  • Diabetes drugs: American ginseng can cause blood sugar levels to drop in excess when combined in conjunction with the insulin drug or with other diabetic medications and can lead to hyperglycemia (low glucose levels).
  • Progestins The negative consequences of this synthetic progesterone are increased when combined with American Ginseng.
  • Herbal supplements: Some herbs, like aloe and cinnamon, can lower blood sugar levels when combined with American Ginseng, as well as vitamin D, chromium, and magnesium.

Tell your doctor if you plan to take any supplements to avoid any interactions.

Sources of American Ginseng

American Ginseng is an ingredient in a variety of commercial food products sold in the United States. It is also available as a supplement on the internet or in retail stores.

American Ginseng is an additive in many ginger-infused and energy drinks. Additionally, American ginseng teas are sold in grocery stores, supplement shops, and health food stores. Granulated and whole-dried ginseng root is used to create herbal teas and tonics.

In addition to the usual supplements, American ginseng is available as a capsule, tablet powder, extract, or tincture. Tablets and capsules are more effective than whole-root ginseng because the dosage can be regulated.

Ginseng tea, supplements, and dried roots should be kept in airtight containers in a dry, cool location. Beware of pets and children. Throw away after one year or before the expiration date listed on the label.

How to Choose Supplements

The United States doesn't strictly control dietary supplements. To ensure high-quality supplements, you should choose those provided for testing by an independent certification body such as U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP), ConsumerLab, or NSF International.

Certification means that the supplement is effective or safe in its entirety. It is simply a sign that no contaminants were detected and that the ingredient list is mentioned on the product's label in the proper quantities.

Similar Supplements

Other supplements that could enhance cognitive function and reduce stress include:

  • Bacopa (Bacopa monnieri)
  • Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba)
  • Holy basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum)
  • Gotu kola (Centella asiatica)
  • Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis)
  • Sage (Salvia officinalis)
  • Spearmint (Mentha Spicata)

Supplements studied for treatment or prevention of respiratory viruses such as the flu or cold include:

  • Elderberry
  • Maoto
  • Licorice root
  • Antiwei
  • Echinacea
  • Carnosic acid
  • Pomegranate
  • Guava tea
  • Bai Shao
  • Zinc
  • Vitamin D
  • Honey
  • Nigella

Summary

A limited amount of research suggests that American Ginseng can help with mental and physical fatigue, diabetes, and respiratory illnesses like influenza and cold. Drug interactions and adverse reactions could occur as well. American Ginseng is a risk when taken during pregnancy, nursing, or for those suffering from schizophrenia or other cancers.

In certain instances, the integrative approach shouldn't be an alternative to standard medical treatment. Utilize first-line treatments and talk to your doctor about incorporating alternative therapies such as American ginseng and other herbs.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Are there other varieties of Ginseng?

“Ginseng” is the common name given to plants belonging to the Genus Panax (meaning “cure of ailments”). Thirteen Panax varieties have been identified, with the most popular being Panax Ginseng (Korean Ginseng) and Panax quinquefolius (American Ginseng).

What is the ideal season to consume American Ginseng?

Certain sources recommend taking American Ginseng during the summer months, as it is believed to help cool the body. However, there isn't much evidence to suggest this.

What other options do you have for fatigue related to cancer?

In active treatment, a combination of cognitive therapy (CBT, which is a form of therapy for talking) and hypnosis can prove beneficial. Following treatment, a few alternatives that can help reduce fatigue include acupressure, mindfulness-based cognitive therapies, and Qigong.

 

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