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American Ginseng - Uses and Benefits

Alternative Names: Canadian Ginseng, Five Fingers, Ginseng, American, Panax quinquefolius, Red Berry, Ren Shen

The American ginseng plant, Panax quinquefolius, is similar in appearance and is in the same botanic genus as Asian ginseng (panax ginseng). The term ginseng refers to several species of the genus Panax. For more than two thousand years, the roots of this slow-growing plant have been valued in Chinese medicine.

Till now not much research has been done on American Ginseng. However, since its active ingredients are similar to those of Oriental ginseng, it is thought to have similar healing characteristics as well. In traditional Chinese medicine it is considered more cooling or soothing than Red Panax Ginseng, This characteristic may make it a better therapeutic ginseng type for people with ages under 50 years.

American Ginseng Description

American Ginseng grows in the U.S. and Canada. In the U.S. it is found mainly in Michigan and Wisconsin, south to northern Florida, Alabama, Louisiana and Oklahoma. A heavy concentration is found in the Appalachian mountains, although wild American ginseng is considered endangered.

It is a smooth perennial herb, with a large, fleshy, very slow-growing root, 2 to 3 inches in length (occasionally twice this size) and from 1/2 to 1 inch in thickness. Its main portion is spindle-shaped and heavily annulated (ringed growth), with a roundish summit, often with a slight terminal, projecting point.

American Ginseng Uses and Benefits

Both American and Asian ginsengs belong to the species Panax and are similar in their chemical composition. Most ginsengs are believed to act as general restoratives, tonics, or adaptogens, which have nonspecific strengthening properties to restore the body's balance, enhance stamina, and increase resistance to stress and disease.

American Ginseng mainly helps to:

  • strengthen the immune system.
  • increase strength and vigor.
  • boost energy.
  • relieve stress.
  • improve concentration.
  • enhance physical or cognitive performance.

Specific other types of ginseng may be helpful in diabetes control, the prevention of respiratory infections, sexual enhancement and other uses.

Dosage

Most of the published research studies have shown that the standard dosage for American Ginseng extract is about 200 mg per day containing atleast 4 to 7% ginsenosides. Some other sources may also recommend 0.5 to 2 g of dry root per day on a short-term basis, with the ginseng taken in tea form or chewed. In one study, which was for the treatment of diabetes with American ginseng - showed that the dose for this purpose should be 3 g daily. Capsule formulas are generally given in a dosage of 100 to 600 mg per day, usually in divided doses.

Caution:

One American ginseng product has been shown to mildly blunt the hyperglycemic effect of food ; this may theoretically be detrimental in a tightly controlled or labile diabetic. Unlike Asian ginseng products, adulteration or contamination of American ginseng has not yet been reported. Safety has not been established during pregnancy or breast feeding.

Adverse Side Effects of American Ginseng

In studies involving humans, the most commonly reported side effects are:

  • Anxiety.
  • Breast pain.
  • Drowsiness.
  • Insomnia.
  • Headache.

The side effects given above are more likely to occur if caffeine containing foods and beverages are also being consumed with american ginseng.

Chemicals in American ginseng may act like estrogen in the body. When it is taken at the same time as estrogen replacement therapy or oral contraceptives, it may interfere with the way the body uses the estrogen. As a result, estrogens or oral contraceptives may not be as effective, as it would have been. Some women may experience increased side effects, or the risk of an unintended pregnancy may be slightly higher.

Interactions:

No drug interactions are recognized.

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