The ancient Chinese believed that the root of the ginseng
plant was the crystallization of the essence of the earth in the shape of a man and that
ginseng had rejuvenating, recuperative, revitalizing, and curative action. The first
Chinese Materia Medica written by Shen-nong, stated that ginseng was used for its tonic
and tranquilizing effects; that ginseng increased alertness, brilliance, and
concentration, and improved memory; and that prolonged ginseng use brought about
Ginseng's Reported Benefits:
Increase physical stamina and sexual prowess in both men
Support of normal blood pressure
Calming, restorative effect on body
Immune system support
There are two major ginseng species; Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng) and American ginseng (Panax
quinquefolium) The name of panax derived from Greek, means "all cure" (pan
means all, ax means cure). Ginseng meaning "wonder of the world", has been known
and respected by the Chinese for centuries. It is true that ginseng possesses real value
for support of human health. Modern scientific findings on ginseng have documented many
attributed uses of ginseng. Tonic action of ginseng has been the most persistent; it is
now often described as "tonic up the cerebral cortex" and good to relieve stress
(an "adaptogen" activity). Ginseng has a "universal defense action"
and meets all 3 requirements for adaptation effects.
Ginseng is not toxic and has no side effects. It does not cause any discomfort or
disorder in the physiological functions of the body.
The action of ginseng is neither local nor specific; i.e. it is believed to increase
the body's strength resistance to adverse stress (chemical, physical or biological agents)
Ginseng is a regulator, exhibiting normalizing effects of the body including the
regulating effects of high and low blood pressure
Ginseng has been used in traditional Asian medicine for centuries as a
general tonic and cardiotonic agent. Scientific studies provide evidence of these
biological effects of ginseng and also support the uses of ginseng for other health
The usage of Asian and American ginseng is very different according to the famous Chinese
pharmaceutical compendium and Chinese traditional medicine of Yin Yang.
American Ginseng possesses "cooling" property to the body, while Asian ginseng
possesses "warming". Therefore, people with the "warming" body should
only take American ginseng which is "cooling" , but people with
"cooling" body should only take Asian ginseng instead. Otherwise, contradictions
exist, particularly for people with weaknesses. It is no wonder that American ginseng is
often used to for stress and fatigue, but not Asian (Chinese and Korean) ginseng, which
has more stimulating and depleting effects.
Lu, Okauda and Yoshida, Lewis Muwalla and Abuirmeileh, and Kaku et al reported that
American ginseng has insulin-like activity, influences neuralgic reactions, supports
normal total cholesterol level and supports heart and blood circulatory functions. This
research on American ginseng found that ginseng has the ability to balance and tone the
biochemistry system of the body, strengthen the immune system, provide enormous energy,
eliminate the daily fatigue, enhance vitality, and improve physical and mental strength.
In addition, American ginseng is supportive of blood pressure and cardiovascular health.
The differences between American and Asian ginseng's are well documented not only by
Chinese traditional doctors, but also by modern scientists, It is found that the
differences in the active, constituents may account for the differing properties of
American and Asian ginseng. Shibata's group and Staba and his colleagues found that the
types of saponins in American ginseng are similar to those in Asian ginseng, the
exceptions that ginsenosides Ra and Rf found in Asian ginseng are absent from American
ginseng. There are some differences in quantity of ginsenosides Rg and Re groups between
American ginseng and Asian ginseng. Furthermore, the relative abundance of panaxadiols and
panaxatrios differs in the two ginseng species. American ginseng contains very few
ginsenosides with central nervous system support, therefore it is regarded as a
|EFFECTS OF GINSENG ON SPORTS
Ginseng has been suggested to enhance sports performance though studies results are mixed.
Athletes from beginning joggers to Olympic contenders agree that ginseng helps them
overcome the strain and drain of exercise. A recent Swiss study conducted by Dr. Anton
Kirchdorfer shows how ginseng helps. Thirty athletes were given exercise tests on a
programmed exercise cycling machine to assure a specific level of muscle work. The heart
rate and lactate concentration in the blood was measured before, immediately after and for
several minutes following the exercise.
Strong exertion for eight minutes raised the athletes heart rate from an average value of
about 70 to 155 (more than doubled). During recuperation, their heart rate slowly returned
to normal over a period of about 20 minutes; their heart rates fell below 100 after 4-5
The athletes were then given ginseng daily for nine weeks. The tests were conducted again,
using the same amount of exercise. Their pulse rates this time increased to only 140, and
during recuperation their heart rates fell blow 100 within just 3 minutes, and were back
to normal in 5 minutes.
Lactate (the substance that causes muscular pain following prolonged exercise) was
measured during the same tests. Before using ginseng, the lactate levels of the athletes
increased from 2.0 before exercise to 10.5 afterward, without returning to normal levels
even after 20 minutes. Following nine weeks of ginseng administration, lactate acid levels
only reached 6.2 at their highest point, and decreased to normal in about twenty minutes.
These figures suggest the athletes were using oxygen much more efficiently after taking
ginseng. Thus, their hearts did not need to pump as fast, and they did not produce as much
lactic acid, (the by-product of carbohydrate metabolism). The quicker return to normal
physiologic conditions also indicates that there is less stress to the entire system.
The blood carries oxygen to the cells of the body. In the cells, oxygen combines with
chemicals obtained from food. Energy produced during the process makes it possible for
each cell to perform its function in the body. Ginseng supports the basal metabolic rate.