Ginseng (Panax ginseng) is native to China and Korea. The name ginseng means “man root,” a reference to its shape, which resembles the human form. Mature ginseng roots contain saponin compounds known as ginsenosides, polyphenolic compounds and polysaccharides.1,2 The cleaned roots are extracted, concentrated, and dried. Extracts are commonly standardized to contain ginsenosides or polysaccharides.
Panax ginseng has been valued to be a tonic, adaptogen, and prophylactic agent to build resistance. Panax ginseng has also been used to reduce the risk of illness, boost vitality, increase stamina, and promote general well-being for thousands of years in Korea and China, without being associated with serious adverse events or drug interactions.1,3,4 Therefore, Panax Ginseng consumption has been considered to improve overall health, reduce the susceptibility to illness, and promote longevity, as its name “panax” means “cure-all” in Greek.1 Fresh Ginseng extract supplementation has been associated with the reduced risk of several cancers in Korean populations, implying its preventive effect against cancer.5 Ginseng may also aid in improving mood and psychophysical performance while reducing fasting blood glucose levels and body weight in individuals with non-insulin dependent diabetes (type 2 diabetes).6 Ginseng extract in combination with multivitamins increased detoxifying activities of the liver in the elderly with chronic liver diseases.7 Ginseng has been associated with improving erectile function, sexual function, physical performance, and factors related to male fertility.4,8-10 Furthermore, Ginseng has shown ergonomic effects by prolonging exercise duration until exhaustion. The mechanism has been supported in a preclinical study, reporting the thermogenic effect of Panax Ginseng by increasing resistance to cold temperatures and improving recovery from acute hypothermia.11,12 Ginseng polysaccharide has been shown to enhance immune function in a clinical study.13