Benefits of Ginseng
Ginseng is often claimed to be helpful for treating conditions such as anxiety, diabetes, and depression. Ginseng may also be beneficial in helping to stimulate the immune system, improving overall health and well-being, and increasing resistance to stress. It is important to know that some of the health claims for ginseng are more valid than others.
Ginseng is an herbal supplement derived from the roots of the ginseng plant. The term "ginseng" usually refers to Panax ginseng (also known as Asian ginseng, Chinese ginseng, or Korean ginseng). This type of ginseng should not be confused with American ginseng or Siberian ginseng, which have different medicinal properties. People claim that ginseng is helpful for a number of general uses, such as:
- Increasing resistance to stress (including physical and emotional stress)
- Stimulating the immune system
- Improving overall mental health and functioning (including improving memory)
- Improving overall health and well-being
- Slowing the aging process.
Ginseng is also claimed to be beneficial for treating a variety of specific conditions, such as:
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Chronic bronchitis
- Lung infections in people with cystic fibrosis
- Indigestion or heartburn
- Impotence (also known as erectile dysfunction or ED)
- Male infertility
- Menopausal hot flashes.
Some of these reported ginseng benefits are more valid than others (see Does Ginseng Work? for more information). As with many supplements, claims for the benefits of ginseng are often exaggerated, and these claims must be evaluated critically.
Most importantly, it is essential to remember that natural products should not be used carelessly, as many natural products can be quite toxic (for instance, many poisons are natural products). Ginseng can cause serious side effects, especially if taken inappropriately (see Side Effects of Ginseng for more information).
Ginseng is often claimed to be an "adaptogen." Although this term sounds very scientific, it is not a medical term at all. It is used by herbalists to describe certain herbs that are claimed to increase the body's resistance to physical or emotional stresses.