Of all the wonderful substances out there that have nootropic properties, few are more widely-known than ginseng. It’s a remarkable plant that has been used in medicine for over 2,000 years.1 Commonly used as an ingredient in energy drinks, teas, and weight-loss products, ginseng has been shown to improve memory, cognition, immunity, and mood.2
While there are several types of ginseng available, we’re only gonna explore the benefits of Panax ginseng. Of the different types of ginseng, it has been the most widely studied and proven to be effective. We’re gonna look at the benefits of Panax ginseng, potential side effects, and dosage. But first, let’s take a look at what exactly Panax ginseng is and how it differs from other types of ginseng.
What is Panax Ginseng?
Panax ginseng is a plant that grows naturally in Korea, China, and eastern Asia.3 It’s also known as Panax ginseng, Korean ginseng, Asian ginseng or “True Ginseng.” Some people refer to it as True Ginseng because its been studied more than any other type and is a true member of the ginseng genus of plants.2 Siberian ginseng, for example, seems to have many of the same benefits of Panax ginseng, but belongs to a different genus.4 American ginseng is a member of the same genus as Panax ginseng and is known to have its own benefits, but has not been studied nearly as much.
Used all over the world for its immune-boosting, cognition-enhancing, stress-reducing, and energy-increasing properties, Panax ginseng has been extensively studied and shown to be very safe.5 It is considered an adaptogen, because of its ability to help the body and mind deal with stress. Panax ginseng is typically used in pill or capsule form, extracted from the root of the plant. It can also be found in powder form and is a common ingredient in many energy drinks, teas, and special coffees.
Panax ginseng has been used for centuries to treat a variety of conditions. Some of the purported benefits of Panax ginseng have been scientifically studied and shown to be true, while others have not.6 More research is needed to conclusively determine all the benefits of this amazing plant. Now, let’s look at the benefits of Panax ginseng that have been scientifically studied.
Benefits of Panax Ginseng
This remarkable plant has been shown to have a number of nootropic benefits. Users from all over the world take Panax ginseng for a variety of reasons. Here are some of the well-known, scientifically studied benefits of Panax ginseng:
Improved Cognitive Performance – One of the main reasons that people use Panax ginseng is to improve cognitive performance. Users from all over the world report clearer thinking after using Panax Ginseng. This has been studied and shown to be true.
In one study, participants took a series of tests to assess cognitive performance. Then, they were either given Panax ginseng or a placebo, and tested again a while later. Those that were given the ginseng performed better on the cognitive tests and showed less signs of mental fatigue.7
Increased Calmness/Improved Mood – Another benefit of Panax ginseng is its ability to improve mood and increase feelings of calmness. In a 2010 study, researchers gave participants either 200 mg of Panax ginseng, 400 mg, or a placebo. After a week, participants in both ginseng groups showed an increase in calmness and improved mood.8
Reduced Stress/Improved Quality of Life – Panax ginseng, being an adaptogen, has been shown to reduce stress and improve overall quality of life. In a study done in 2002, participants were either given 200 mg of Panax ginseng every day or a placebo for eight weeks. They were given a standardized wellness test after 4 and 8 weeks. The participants in the ginseng group scored much higher in both social functioning and overall mental health.9
These are just some of the benefits of Panax ginseng. Other benefits include reduced blood glucose, improved erectile function, increased immunity, increased anti-oxidant enzymes, increased blood flow, and a decrease in certain types of inflammation.2
Potential Side Effects of Panax Ginseng
Most people that use Panax ginseng do not report any serious side effects.5 However, like any time you put anything in your body, side effects are possible. Potential side effects of Panax ginseng may include insomnia, restlessness, anxiety, euphoria, diarrhea, vomiting, headache, nose bleed, breast pain, and hypertension.10
Panax ginseng may interact with certain drugs. If you take medication for high blood pressure or are on blood thinners, make sure to talk with your doctor before taking any type of ginseng. Also, if you are pregnant, you should not take Panax ginseng.
Panax Ginseng Dosage
Dosages ranging from 200 mg to 3,000 mg a day have been shown to be effective. Typically, most people report a noticeable effect from 500 mg and up. This is a good starting dose to see how well it works for you. If you don’t get the results you want, you may consider increasing the dosage.
Panax ginseng may be taken with or without food. However, taking it with a meal may increase absorption and reduce the possibility of causing nausea and upset stomach.
As we’ve seen, Panax ginseng has a number of mental and physical benefits. As an adaptogen, it is able to reduce stress and normalize certain functions. It’s generally very safe, inexpensive, and stacks well with other nootropics.
Other adaptogens include ashwagandha, mucuna pruriens, and rhodiola rosea. Like Panax ginseng, they are all plants that have a number of mental and physical benefits. You can learn more about them here: The Top 3 Nootropic Adaptogens.
1Ginseng. (n.d.). From Drugs.com. Retrieved November 29, 2016 from https://www.drugs.com/cdi/ginseng.html
2Panax Ginseng. (n.d.) From Examine.com. Retrieved November 29, 2016 from https://examine.com/supplements/Panax+ginseng/
3Ginseng, Panax. (n.d.). From WebMD.com. Retrieved November 29, 2016 from http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-1000-ginseng,%20panax.aspx?activeingredientid=1000&activeingredientname=ginseng,%20panax
4Elutherococcus senticosus. (n.d.). From Wikipedia.com. Retrieved November 29, 2016 from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eleutherococcus_senticosus
5Coon, J.T. & Ernst, E. (2002). Panax ginseng: A systematic review of adverse effects and drug interactions. Drug Safety. 25(5):323-44.
6Lee, N-H. & Son, C-G. (2011). Systematic review of randomized controlled trials evaluating the efficacy and safety of ginseng. Journal of Acupuncture and Meridian Studies. 4(2):85-97.
7Reay, J.L., Kennedy, D.O., & Scholey, A.B. (2006). Effects of Panax ginseng, consumed with and without glucose, on blood glucose levels and cognitive performance during sustained ‘mentally demanding’ tasks. Journal of Psychopharmacology. 20(6):771-81.
8Reay, J.L., Scholey, A.B., & Kennedy, D.O. (2010). Panax ginseng (G115) improves aspects of working memory performance and subjective ratings of calmness in healthy young adults. Hum Psychopharmacol. 25(6):462-71
9Ellis, J.M. & Reddy, P. (2002). Effects of Panax ginseng on quality of life. Ann Pharmacolother. 36(3):375-9.
10Asian Ginseng. (n.d.). University of Maryland Medical Center. Retrieved November 29, 2016 from http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/asian-ginseng