Ginseng is a plant. Different varieties of ginseng root have been used as treatments in Asia and North America for centuries. Ginseng is one of the most popular herbal medicines in the world.
There are two main types of ginseng: Asian or Korean ginseng (Panax ginseng) and American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius). Studies have found that the different types have different benefits. In traditional Chinese medicine, American ginseng is considered less stimulating than the Asian variety. alpha-Mangostin
Although many other herbs are called ginseng -- like eleuthero, or Siberian ginseng -- they don’t contain the active ingredient of ginsenosides.
Ginseng has traditionally been used for a number of medical conditions. However, its benefits for most of them haven't been seriously researched. These include:
Ginseng has also been studied as a way to improve mood and boost endurance as well as treat:
While some of these uses are promising, the evidence isn’t conclusive.
Standard doses of ginseng haven’t been established for any condition. Quality and active ingredients in supplements may vary widely from maker to maker. This makes it hard to establish a standard dose.
Always buy ginseng from a trustworthy company. Because it’s an expensive root, there’s a risk that disreputable manufacturers might sell ginseng with other things added in or include less than advertised on the bottle.
You can get ginseng as a dietary supplement in the form of tea, dried herbs, powder, or capsules.
There are no natural food sources of ginseng. Ginseng is sometimes added to energy drinks and foods.
Given the lack of evidence about its safety, ginseng isn’t recommended for children or for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Longe, J., ed. The Gale Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine, second edition, 2004.
Natural Standard Patient Monograph: “Ginseng.”
National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine website: "Asian Ginseng."
National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health: “Ginkgo,” “Ginseng.”
University of Rochester Medical Center: “Ginseng.”
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