In 2010, nearly all of the world’s 80,000 tons of ginseng in international commerce was produced in four countries – South Korea, China, Canada and the United States. Today, ginseng is marketed in over 35 countries and sales exceed $2 billion, half coming from South Korea.
Korea continues to be the largest provider of ginseng and China the largest consumer. Today, most North American ginseng is produced in Ontario, British Columbia, and Wisconsin. Because it was highly profitable, harvesting wild ginseng continued for many years, and cultivation as a domesticated crop began in the late 1800s. By the 20th century, wild roots became scarce due to over-harvesting. Today, wild American ginseng is protected under CITES, the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. Most states where ginseng can be found have strict prohibitions and regulations on digging for ginseng, though poaching is a persistent problem because old, wild roots fetch the highest prices.
Cultivated ginseng, however, is still an important crop, and the ginseng capital of the U.S. is Wisconsin. About 200 growers there account for at least 90 percent of cultivated ginseng production in America.
American Ginseng: panax quinquefolius, grows throughout the northern regions of North America, including New York, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Ontario, Canada. American ginseng has been shown to fight depression, balance blood sugar, support digestive distress caused by anxiety, improve focus and boost the immune system. In comparison, American ginseng is more mild than Asian ginseng but still very therapeutic and usually used to treat yin deficiency instead of yang deficiency.
The Top Benefit of American Ginseng: Energy
American ginseng influences energy metabolism by helping muscles work longer before becoming fatigued. The effect is enhanced by the plant’s calming action. Many people have described it as feeling more energetic while simultaneously feeling more at ease; almost like a ready focus.
American ginseng isn’t ready for use until it’s grown for about six years; It’s endangered in the wild, so now it’s grown on farms to protect it from overharvesting. The American ginseng plant has leaves that grow in a circular shape about the stem. The flowers are yellow-green and shaped like an umbrella; They grow in the center of the plant and produce red berries. The plant gets wrinkles around the neck with age – older plants are more valuable and more expensive because ginseng benefits are more abundant in aged roots.
Ginseng contains various pharmacological components, including a series of tetracyclic triterpenoid saponins (ginsenosides), polyacetylenes, polyphenolic compounds and acidic polysaccharides.
10 PROVEN GINSENG BENEFITS
1. Improves Mood and Reduces Stress
A controlled study done at the Brain Performance and Nutrition Research Centre in the United Kingdom involved 30 volunteers who were given three rounds of treatments of ginseng and placebo. The study was done to gather data about ginseng’s ability to improve mood and mental function. The results found that 200 milligrams of ginseng for eight days slowed the fall in mood, but also slowed the participants’ response to mental arithmetic. The 400 milligram dose improved calmness and improved mental arithmetic for the duration of the eight-day treatment.
2. Improves Brain Function
Ginseng stimulates brain cells and improves concentration and cognitive activities. Evidence shows that taking Panax ginseng root daily for 12 weeks can improve mental performance in people with Alzheimer’s disease. One study done at the Department of Neurology at the Clinical Research Institute in South Korea investigated the effectiveness of ginseng on the cognitive performance of patients with Alzheimer’s disease. After ginseng treatment, the participants showed improvements, and this upscale trend continued for three months. After discontinuing ginseng treatment, the improvements declined to the levels of the control group.
This suggest ginseng works as an Alzheimer’s natural treatment. Although more research on this topic is needed, one preliminary study found that a combination of American ginseng and ginkgo biloba helps naturally remedy ADHD.
3. Has Anti-Inflammatory Properties
An interesting study done in Korea measured the beneficial effects of Korean red ginseng on children after chemotherapy or stem cell transplantation for advanced cancer. The study included 19 patients who received 60 milligrams of Korean red ginseng daily for one year. Blood samples were collected every six months, and as a result of the treatment, the cytokines, or small proteins that are responsible for sending signals to the brain and regulating cell growth, decreased rapidly, which was a significant difference from the control group. This study suggests that Korean red ginseng has a stabilizing effect of the inflammatory cytokines in children with cancer after chemotherapy.
4. Helps with Weight Loss
Another surprising ginseng benefit is its ability to work as a natural appetite suppressant. It also boosts your metabolism and helps the body burn fat at a faster rate. A study done at the Tang Center for Herbal Medicine Research in Chicago measured the anti-diabetic and anti-obesity effects of Panax ginseng berry in adult mice; The mice were injected with 150 milligrams of ginseng berry extract per kilogram of body weight for 12 days. By day five, the mice taking the ginseng extract had significantly lower fasting blood glucose levels. After day 12, the glucose tolerance in the mice increased and overall blood glucose levels decreased by 53 percent. The treated mice showed weight loss, too, starting at 51 grams and ending the treatment at 45 grams.
5. Treats Sexual Dysfunction
Research done in 2002 at the Department of Physiology at Southern Illinois University’s School of Medicine indicates that ginseng’s ginsenoside components facilitate penile erections by directly inducing the vasodilatation and relaxation of the erectile tissue. It’s the release of nitric oxide from endothelial cells and perivascular nerves that directly affect the erectile tissue.
The university’s research also indicates that ginseng affects the central nervous system and significantly alters the activity in the brain that facilitates hormonal behavior and secretion.
6. Improves Lung Function
Ginseng treatment has significantly decreased lung bacteria, and studies involving rats have shown that ginseng can stop the growth of cystic fibrosis, a common lung infection. In one 1997 study, rats were given ginseng injections, and after two weeks, the treated group showed a significantly improved bacterial clearance from the lungs.
7. Lowers Blood Sugar Levels
Several studies show that American red ginseng lowers blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes, working as a diabetes natural remedy. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, one study found that people with type 2 diabetes who took American ginseng before or together with a high sugar drink showed less of an increase in blood glucose levels.
8. Prevents Cancer
Research has shown that ginseng possesses powerful anticancer properties because of its ability to inhibit tumor growth. Although more research is needed on this subject, reports conclude that it’s the improvements in cell immunity involving T cells and NK cells (natural killer cells), along with other mechanisms such as oxidative stress, apoptosis and angiogenesis, that gives ginseng its anticancer properties.
9. Boosts Immune System
Another well-researched ginseng benefit is its ability to boost the immune system – helping the body fight off infection and disease. The roots, stems and leaves of ginseng have been used for maintaining immune homeostasis and enhancing resistance to illness or infection.
Several clinical studies have shown that American ginseng improves the performance of cells that play a role in immunity. Ginseng regulates each type of immune cell, including macrophages, natural killer cells, dendritic cells, T cells and B cells.
10. Relieve Menopause Symptoms
Pesky symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, irritability, anxiety, depressive symptoms, vaginal dryness, decreased sex drive, weight gain, insomnia and thinning hair tend to accompany menopause. Some evidence suggests that ginseng can help decrease the severity and occurrence of these. A systematic review of randomized clinical trials found that in three different trials, Korean red ginseng had the efficacy to boost sexual arousal in menopausal women, increase well-being and general health while decreasing depressive symptoms and better improve menopause symptoms on the Kupperman’s index and Menopausal Rating Scale as compared to the placebo group. A fourth study found no significant difference in the frequency of hot flashes between the ginseng and placebo group.