Ginseng refers to plants in the Panax genus, which have been used for thousands of years in traditional Chinese and Korean medicine. Panax ginseng, also known as Asian ginseng or Korean ginseng, is the most commonly used type of ginseng with potential health benefits. Ginseng extract is made by concentrating the active compounds in ginseng roots through soaking, boiling and evaporating the liquid. Here are some potential health benefits of panax ginseng extract:
Improved Cognitive Function
Ginseng extract may help improve mental functions like memory, concentration and focus. Several cell and animal studies have found that ginseng compounds could protect neurons from damage and increase synaptic plasticity – the ability of neurons to communicate and form connections. Clinical trials also show panax ginseng extract can improve various aspects of cognitive function in healthy adults and those with neurodegenerative disorders. However, more research is needed to determine the optimal doses for greater benefit.
Ginsenosides, the primary active compounds in ginseng extract, appear to have antioxidant effects in the body. They can reduce oxidative stress by mopping up free radicals and reactive oxygen species that damage cells. This antioxidant action has been proposed as one possible mechanism to explain ginseng’s benefits for the brain and nervous system. Ginseng extract may also boost the body’s natural antioxidant enzyme defenses as shown in some animal and tissue studies. Still, human evidence is mixed and limited.
Blood Sugar Regulation
Some research suggests that panax ginseng extract may help regulate blood sugar levels and benefit people with diabetes. Several mechanisms have been proposed including improving insulin sensitivity and glucose uptake in cells, as well as inhibiting certain enzymes that break down carbohydrates. However, most studies to date are small and have mixed results. Larger, well-designed trials are still needed to confirm if ginseng extract can reliably lower blood sugar and support diabetes management.
Immune System Support
Ginsenosides in ginseng appear to have immuno-modulating effects and may support immune cell function. Test tube and animal research shows ginseng extract could boost the activity of some immune cells like natural killer cells, T cells and macrophages and increase the production of antibodies. Very limited human evidence suggests panax ginseng may help improve immune responses for people with certain illnesses or undergoing cancer treatments. More high-quality studies are still warranted, especially for determining proper dosing.
Ginseng is considered an adaptogen – an herb that helps the body adapt and deal with physical and mental stress. The substances in ginseng extract may be able to modulate the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis, which regulates stress response in the body. Animal studies have shown ginseng improves resistance to stress by reducing cortisol and adrenaline release and normalizing physiological changes that occur during stress. However, human research on ginseng as an adaptogen is still sparse and controversial.
Small studies have found that panax ginseng extract may relieve daytime fatigue and tiredness in healthy individuals as well as reduce mental and physical fatigue in athletes. The mechanisms behind this purported effect are still unclear but may involve ginsenosides modulating neurotransmitters like dopamine that influence mood, alertness and energy levels. Research into panax ginseng as an anti-fatigue supplement is still considered preliminary and further large-scale trials are needed.
Conclusion For Panax Ginseng Extract
Panax ginseng extract contains many compounds with potential to support health in various ways. While some test tube and animal research is promising, human studies on the health benefits of ginseng extract remain limited and produce mixed results. More rigorous clinical trials with proper dosing and controls are still needed to validate many of the proposed effects from panax ginseng extract. At this time, ginseng should be considered an herbal supplement rather than a replacement for prescribed treatments.