American ginseng is the less famous relative of panax, or Asian ginseng. However, these types of ginseng are similar, with both containing ginsenosides, substances that provide ginseng with medicinal properties and benefits. Native Americans used ginseng to treat headaches, indigestion, fever and infertility. Although no scientific evidence confirms it, people believe that ginseng is an “adaptogen,” meaning the herb can help the body deal with stress.
Improved Immune Function
American ginseng may help to improve immune function by fighting off infections and diseases. A 2005 study published in the journal "CMAJ" examined the role of American ginseng and the common cold. Researchers gave 323 subjects who had a history of at least two colds in the previous year either two capsules of American ginseng or a placebo for four months. Those who took ginseng had fewer colds and less severe symptoms and were sick for fewer days than those in the control group.
American ginseng may help to control blood sugar levels in people with Type 2 diabetes. The University of Maryland Medical Center reports that several human studies found ginseng can help lower blood glucose levels during fasting and right after eating. A 2000 study published in “Archives of Internal Medicine” discovered that American ginseng reduced blood sugar levels in both diabetic and nondiabetic subjects. Subjects took American ginseng with a sugary drink, and their blood glucose increased less than the placebo group.
Some studies suggest that ginseng may help to inhibit tumor growth. A 2008 laboratory study in the “International Journal of Oncology” investigated the effect of American ginseng on colorectal cancer cells. The researchers stated that American ginseng contains ginsenoside Rg3, a saponin that may inhibit tumor growth. Researchers concluded that further research is needed to better understand the molecular properties of American ginseng as a potential anticancer agent.
Consult your physician before you take American ginseng. This herb can interact with other medications and conditions. Although rare, American ginseng can also cause side effects, such as high blood pressure, insomnia, restlessness, vomiting, diarrhea, nosebleed and vaginal bleeding. You can buy American ginseng in many different forms, including standardized extract and fresh or dried root. The dosage will vary depending on the type of ginseng you are taking. For example, if you are taking a standardized extract, you should take 100 to 200 milligrams one to three times daily.
- University of Maryland Medical Center: American Ginseng
- CMAJ: Efficacy of an Extract of North American Ginseng Containing Poly-Furanosyl-Pyranosyl-Saccharides for Preventing Upper Respiratory Tract Infections: A Randomized Controlled Trial
- Archives of Internal Medicine: American Ginseng (Panax Quinquefolius L) Reduces Postprandial Glycemia in Nondiabetic Subjects and Subjects with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus
- International Journal of Oncology: Characterization of Gene Expression Regulated by American Ginseng and Ginsenoside Rg3 in Human Colorectal Cancer Cells
Ireland Wolfe has been writing professionally since 2009, contributing to Toonari Post, Africana Online and Winzer Insurance. She obtained her Bachelor of Arts in psychology and Master of Arts in mental health counseling. She is also a licensed mental health counselor, registered nutritionist and yoga teacher.