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Korean Ginseng

Compilation by Armando Gonzalez Stuart, PhD

Scientific Name:

Panax ginseng

Other Common Name:

Asian ginseng, Oriental ginseng. Ginseng coreano.

Parts of the plant used:

The root, harvested until it reaches 6 years of age. Roots of lesser age are deemed inferior in their content of active principles. Raw ginseng root is known as “white ginseng”, while the steamed root is known as “red ginseng”. Both versions have similar

How is it used?

Ginseng may be consumed as a decoction (parts of the root boiled in water), as tea, extract, tincture or capsules containing the pulverized root. Recently, various types of beverages containing ginseng and other herbs have been made available to the public, mostly advertised as “high energy” drinks. Their effects upon the consumer have yet to be evaluated.

What is it used for?

Ginseng has been used traditionally against fatigue and as a tonic for invigorating various systems of the body. Russian scientists coined the term “adaptogen” to describe a substance or herb that could increase the body’s resistance to stress or had an invigorating action upon the consumer. Thus Korean ginseng is considered to be, along American ginseng, an adaptogenic herb. Ginseng also purportedly enhances mental concentration. Active ingredients contained in this herb may stimulate the immune system and thus have a role in the treatment or prevention of cancer, although more controlled and clinical research is warranted to confirm this. This herb also lowers blood sugar levels and might be useful in the treatment of type 2 diabetes, but only under medical supervision. Ginseng has been used to treat male impotence and waning sexual desire, although not all the clinical results have been positive. Ginseng may also have estrogenic effects. This herb may hold promise as a general tonic for the elderly, but professional advice should be sought before initiating any treatment. Note: As with various other herbs and supplements available on the market today, the quality of ginseng products may vary widely from brand to brand. Some products may in fact contain little, if any, ginseng. A related plant, called “Siberian ginseng”, is not a true ginseng and has been sometimes used to adulterate various herbal products and formulas supposedly containing Korean ginseng. Be sure to buy ginseng products from a reputable source.


Safety / Precautions


  • Avoid during pregnancy and lactation.
  • Avoid large doses or prolonged treatments in patients with high blood pressure. Check with your cardiologist before taking this herb.
  • Do not give products containing ginseng to small children.
  • Ginseng may lower blood sugar levels and thus interact with oral anti-diabetic medications, increasing their effects. Monitor blood sugar levels closely.
  • Ginseng may interfere with normal blood clotting. Avoid combining this plant with medications that thin the blood, such as aspirin or warfarin, for example.
  • Avoid combining this herb with others that have stimulating effects upon the central nervous system, such as guaraná, ma huang (ephedra), kola nut, mate, black tea or coffee, for example.
  • If you scheduled for surgery, suspend the use of this herb or supplements containing it, at least one week prior to the operation.
  • Do not use continually for more than 3 months, unless under medical supervision.
  • Avoid ingesting ginseng at night if you suffer from any sleeping disorder, such as insomnia, for example.
  • Patients with emotional disorders, including depression and anxiety should seek professional counseling before taking this herb.

Before you decide to take any medicinal herb or herbal supplement, be sure to consult with your health care professional first. Avoid self-diagnosis and self-medication: Always be on the safe side!