Ginseng tea is made from the dried roots of ginseng plants. There are several varieties of ginseng tea, including American, Siberian and Asian, and it's also available as a dietary supplement. Ginseng tea might have health benefits including improved energy, but drinking too much can cause you to lose sleep or raise your blood pressure. Speak to your doctor before drinking any type of ginseng tea for health reasons.
Types of Ginseng
American, Panax and Siberien ginseng are the most common types of ginseng, but they're not all from the same plant families. American ginseng and Panax ginseng come from the Panax family, but Siberian ginseng plants are part of the Eleutherococcus family. To make things more confusing, several other teas and tonics are also called ginseng, including Thai, Indian, Brazilian, Peruvian and Southern ginseng. None of them are related to either Panax or Eleuthro ginseng. The different forms of ginseng have different active ingredients. However, American, Siberian and Panax ginseng are used as general health tonics and to improve energy.
Benefits of Panax and American Ginseng
According to an article on WebMD.com, taking Panax ginseng might improve your memory and help you think when it’s combined with an herb called ginko. It can also improve mental concentration, increase physical stamina and might help treat male impotence. Most research has been done on Asian Panax, not the American form. However, the University of Maryland Medical Center says that American ginseng might help regulate blood sugar in people with diabetes and boost the immune system.
Benefits of Siberian Ginseng
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, experts believe Siberian ginseng might improve how your immune system functions. Research studies suggest taking Siberian ginseng can reduce the severity and length of colds and flu and might also decrease the frequency and severity of herpes outbreaks. Siberian ginseng is also used with the hope of improving mental and physical performance and for reducing the effects of stress, similar to the Panax varieties.
Siberian ginseng might cause side effects such as high blood pressure and insomnia, or it might cause drowsiness and headaches. Vomiting, confusion, nose bleeds and irregular heart beats are also possible. The Panax ginsengs might cause insomnia, and women who drink Panax ginseng tea might see an increase in menstrual problems and breast pain. Additional side effects include changes in blood pressure and heart rate, headaches, loss of appetite, itchiness and diarrhea. Any form of ginseng might also interact with certain medications.
Sheri Kay has a master's degree in human nutrition. She's the co-author of two books and has been a nutrition and fitness writer since 2004.