May 1, 2016

Ginseng, American

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What other names is American Ginseng known by?

Anchi Ginseng, Baie Rouge, Canadian Ginseng, Ginseng, Ginseng à Cinq Folioles, Ginseng Américain, Ginseng Americano, Ginseng d'Amérique, Ginseng D'Amérique du Nord, Ginseng Canadien, Ginseng de l'Ontario, Ginseng du Wisconsin, Ginseng Occidental, Ginseng Root, North American Ginseng, Occidental Ginseng, Ontario Ginseng, Panax Quinquefolia, Panax Quinquefolium, Panax quinquefolius, Racine de Ginseng, Red Berry, Ren Shen, Sang, Shang, Shi Yang Seng, Wisconsin Ginseng, Xi Yang Shen.

What is American Ginseng?

American ginseng (Panax quinquefolis) is an herb that grows mainly in North America. Wild American ginseng is in such high demand that it has been declared a threatened or endangered species in some states in the United States.

People take American ginseng by mouth for stress, to boost the immune system, and as a stimulant.

American ginseng is often used to fight infections such as colds and flu. There is some evidence that it might help prevent colds and flu and make symptoms milder when infections do occur.

American ginseng is used for other infections including HIV/AIDS, infections of the intestine (dysentery), and particular infections (Pseudomonas infections) that are common in people with cystic fibrosis.

Some people use American ginseng to improve digestion and for loss of appetite, as well as for vomiting, inflammation of the colon (colitis), and inflammation of the lining of the stomach (gastritis).

American ginseng is also used for low iron in the blood (anemia), diabetes, insulin resistance related to HIV treatments, cancer-related fatigue, high blood pressure, trouble sleeping (insomnia), nerve pain, erectile dysfunction (ED), fever, hangover symptoms, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), blood and bleeding disorders, breast cancer, dizziness, headaches, convulsions, fibromyalgia, "hardening of the arteries" (atherosclerosis), memory loss, rheumatoid arthritis, schizophrenia, improving athletic performance, improving mental performance, as an anti-aging aid, menopausal symptoms, complications during pregnancy or childbirth, and for nervous exhaustion (neurasthenia).

You may also see American ginseng listed as an ingredient in some soft drinks. Oils and extracts made from American ginseng are used in soaps and cosmetics.

Don't confuse American ginseng with Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus) or Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng). They have different medicinal effects.

Is American Ginseng effective?

There is some scientific evidence that American ginseng might help lower sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes.

There isn't enough information to know if American ginseng is effective for the other conditions people use it for, including: high blood pressure, stress, anemia, insomnia, gastritis, impotence, fever, and others.

Possibly Effective for...

  • Diabetes. Taking 3 grams of American ginseng by mouth, up to two hours before a meal, can lower blood sugar after a meal in patients with type 2 diabetes. However, larger doses do not seem to have a greater effect. Taking 100-200 mg of American ginseng by mouth for 8 weeks might also help lower pre-meal blood sugar levels in patients with type 2 diabetes. Different American ginseng products may have different effects. Researchers think that is because they contain different amounts of the active chemicals called ginsenosides.
  • Respiratory tract infections. Some research suggests that taking a specific American ginseng extract called CVT-E002 (Cold-FX, Afexa Life Sciences, Canada) 200 mg twice daily for 3-4 months during flu season might prevent cold or flu symptoms in adults between the ages of 18 and 65. People older than 65 seem to need a flu shot at month 2 along with this treatment in order to decrease their risk of getting the flu or colds. This extract also seems to help make symptoms milder and last a shorter length of time when infections do occur. Some evidence suggests that the extract might not reduce the chance of getting the first cold of a season, but it seems to reduce the risk of getting repeat colds in a season. However, it might not help prevent cold or flu-like symptoms in patients with weakened immune systems.

Possibly Ineffective for...

  • Athletic performance. Taking 1600 mg of American ginseng by mouth for 4 weeks does not seem to improve athletic performance. But it might decrease muscle damage during exercise.

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • Insulin resistance caused by HIV treatment. Early research shows that taking capsules containing 1 gram of American ginseng root three times daily for 14 days while receiving the drug indinavir, which is a type of HIV therapy, does not reduce insulin resistance caused by indinavir in healthy people.
  • Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). There is early evidence that a specific product (AD-fX, Afexa Life Sciences, Canada) containing American ginseng extract in combination with ginkgo leaf extract might help improve ADHD symptoms such as anxiety, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness in children aged 3-17 years.
  • Breast cancer. Some studies conducted in China suggest that breast cancer patients treated with any form of ginseng (American or Panax) do better and feel better. However, this may not be a result of taking the ginseng, because the patients in the study were also more likely to be treated with the prescription cancer drug tamoxifen. It is difficult to know how much of the benefit to attribute to ginseng.
  • Cancer-related fatigue. Research on the effects of American ginseng in people with fatigue related to cancer is not consistent. One study shows that taking 700-2000 mg of American ginseng daily for 8 weeks does not reduce fatigue in people with cancer. However, other research shows that taking 2000 mg of American ginseng in two doses daily for 8 weeks reduces fatigue by 51%. The conflicting results might be due to the different methods used to measure fatigue in the studies.
  • Mental performance. Some research suggests that taking one 100-400 mg dose of American ginseng (Cereboost, Naturex) 1-6 hours before mental tests improves short-term memory and reaction time in healthy people.
  • High blood pressure. Evidence on the effects of American ginseng in people with high blood pressure is not consistent. Some research shows that taking 1500 mg of American ginseng twice daily for 12 weeks does not reduce blood pressure. But other research shows that taking 1000 mg of American ginseng extract three times daily for 12 weeks lowers blood pressure in people with diabetes and high blood pressure. The differences in the research might be related to the amount of ginsenosides, the active chemical in American ginseng, that is contained in the products used.
  • Menopausal symptoms. Early research suggests that taking a product containing American ginseng, black cohosh, dong quai, milk thistle, red clover, and vitex agnus-castus (Phyto-Female Complex, SupHerb, Netanya, Israel) twice daily for 3 months reduces menopausal symptoms, including hot flashes, night sweats, and sleep quality. However, it is not clear if these effects are caused by American ginseng or the other ingredients in the product.
  • Schizophrenia. Early research shows that American ginseng might improve some mental symptoms associated with schizophrenia. Taking 100 mg of a specific American ginseng extract called HT1001 (Afexa Life Sciences, Canada) twice daily for 4 weeks improves the patient's ability to hold visual information in the mind short-term. This treatment might also reduce some physical side effects of antipsychotic drugs. However, it does not improve other mental symptoms.
  • Bleeding disorders.
  • Digestive disorders.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Memory loss.
  • Dizziness.
  • Pregnancy and childbirth complications.
  • Stress.
  • Anemia.
  • Insomnia.
  • Gastritis.
  • Impotence.
  • Fever.
  • Hangover symptoms.
  • Headaches.
  • Swine flu.
  • Aging.
  • HIV/AIDS.
  • Nerve pain.
  • Fibromyalgia.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate American ginseng for these uses.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).


Therapeutic Research Faculty copyright

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