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What is it? Overview Usage Side Effects and Warnings

Ginseng Usage

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Effect of Ginseng on Fibromyalgia

The American ginseng contains a saponin that has a depressant effect on the central nervous system. This contributes to the anticonvulsive, analgesic and stress and anxiety relieving properties of...

Read more about Fibromyalgia and Ginseng.

Effect of Ginseng on Viral Upper Respiratory Infections (Colds and Influenza)

The exact effect of ginseng on colds and flu is not clear, but it probably helps prevent these illnesses by supporting the immune system's overall function.

Read more about Viral Upper Respiratory Infections (Colds and Influenza) and Ginseng.

Effect of Ginseng on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

Though not yet tested in isolation, panax ginseng along with echinacea might be helpful in treating chronic fatigue syndrome.

Read more about Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) and Panax ginseng.

What Is Ginseng Used for Today?

If Brekhman is right, ginseng should be the right treatment for most of us. Modern life is tremendously stressful, and if an herb could help us withstand it, it would be a useful herb indeed. Ginseng is widely used for this purpose in Russia and Eastern Europe. However, the scientific basis for this use is largely limited to animal studies and human trials of unacceptably low quality.

There have been a few better-quality studies of various forms of ginseng for certain more specific purposes—strengthening immunity against colds and flus and other infections (including herpes ), helping to control diabetes , stimulating the mind , increasing a general sense of well-being , and improving physical performance capacity —and some of these have found positive results. (See What is the Scientific Evidence for Ginseng? )

The active ingredients in ginseng are believed to be substances known as ginsenosides. Ginseng low in ginsenosides may not be effective. However, different ginsenosides appear to have differing actions, and the exact mixture of the ginsenosides in a given ginseng product may play a large role in its efficacy.

Two preliminary studies suggest that Korean red ginseng may have some benefits for impotence (erectile dysfunction). 1 A poorly designed study using an untreated control group found indications that Panax ginsengmight improve sperm count and motility, thereby enhancing male fertility . 2 Highly preliminary evidence suggests that Panax quinquefoliusmight help breast cancer chemotherapy drugs work better. 3 Panax ginsengis also said to help prevent cancer and fight chemical dependency, but the scientific evidence for these uses is minimal at best. 4 One study failed to find Panax ginsenghelpful for menopausal symptoms . 5


  1. Choi HK, et al. Clinical efficacy of Korean red ginseng for erectile dysfunction. Int J Impotence Res. 1995;7:181-186.
  2. Salvati G, Genovesi G, Marcellini L, et al. Effects of Panax ginseng CA Meyer saponins on male fertility. Panminerva Med. 1996;38:249-254.
  3. Duda RB, Zhong Y, Navas V, Li MZ, Toy BR, Alavarez JG. American ginseng and breast cancer therapeutic agents synergistically inhibit MCF-7 breast cancer cell growth. J Surg Oncol. 72(4):230-9.
  4. Yun TK, Choi SY. Non-organ specific cancer prevention of ginseng: a prospective study in Korea. Int J Epidemiol. 27(3):359-64.
  5. Wiklund IK, Mattsson LA, Lindgren R, Limoni C. Effects of a standardized ginseng extract on quality of life and physiological parameters in symptomatic postmenopausal women: a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Swedish Alternative Medicine Group. Int J Clin Pharmacol Res. 19(3):89-99.


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