There are different types of Ginseng
Ginseng is a plant that has been long revered for anti-aging, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant benefits, but did you know there is more than one kind of Ginseng?
“Ginseng” is a group of plants that that contains over 13 species, belonging to one large family in the plant kingdom called Araliaceae. The most commonly known ginseng is Panax Ginseng, which is a genus (or category) of the ginseng plant group. Within Panax Ginseng, there is Panax Ginseng (known as the true Ginseng, and often called Korean Ginseng), American Ginseng, Chinese Ginseng, Vietnamese Ginseng and Japanese Ginseng.
There are other types of plants that do not belong to the actual ginseng group, or its family, but they have been mislabeled as ginsengs. They share some common properties with the ginseng family. Some of these are Siberian Ginseng, Indian Ginseng, and Brazillian Ginseng. Indian Ginseng is also known as “ashwagandha”.
Each type of Ginseng has unique benefits
- Between the five most widely used Ginsengs in medicine, and its non-related counterparts of Siberian Ginseng, Indian Ginseng, and Brazillian Ginseng, how do you know which one is right for you?
- Panax Ginseng (scientific name: Panax Ginseng Meyer) is the most widely studied adaptogenic of all the Ginsengs, and is a true Ginseng. Ginseng that is prepared by steaming to preserve its chemical compounds and grown in Korea is referred to as Korean Red Ginseng. The results (backlink?) have shown that Korean Red Panax Ginseng may help with fatigue, could boost the immune system, may ease the symptoms of depression, and may have potential for more comprehensive benefits in some diseases such as diabetes and cancer.
- American Ginseng (scientific name: Panax quinquefolius) is considered a milder form of Ginseng, also a true Ginseng and an adaptogen. It could be more tolerable to those who have encountered the possible side effects of other stronger forms of ginseng. It is believed to be a cooling tonic in the East Asian philosophies of medicine.
- Vietnamese Ginseng (scientific name: Panax vietnamensis) is a partially endangered form of ginseng that is prized for a unique chemical compound structure that is not present in any other plants belonging to the genus Panax. It has been over-farmed in Vietnam to the extent that its demand has caused farmers to protect their land and crops. Its properties are similar to other species within the genus Panax, but it may have more potential as a much stronger adaptogen.
- Chinese Ginseng (scientific name: Panax notogensing, also referred to as Pseudoginseng) may be the gentlest of all the forms of processed ginseng, because the drying process used breaks down some of the chemical compounds that make ginseng so powerful. This particular type of ginseng is being studied for its unusual ability related to blood disorders and has shown promise as a treatment for strokes and traumatic brain injuries (TBI). It is not considered an adaptogen.
- Japanese Ginseng (scientific name: Panax japonicus) is a rare species of ginseng. You may have trouble locating any products with this particular ginseng unless you find it wholesale. It has similar properties to other ginseng in the Panax genus.
- Siberian Ginseng (scientific name: Eleutherococcus senticosu) is not considered a true ginseng but is an adaptogenic herb, which means that it shares similarities with the true ginseng family and its promising abilities to help the body react appropriately under times of stress.
- Indian Ginseng (scientific name: withania somnifera) is also known commonly as “as ashwagandha” and is not a true ginseng. It is believed to improve stress levels, being one of the most effective adaptogenic herbs. It could also have potential to enhance life expectancy if taken on a long-term basis.
- Brazilian Ginseng (scientific name: pfaffia paniculate, also known as Suma) is not a true ginseng. It is best known for its impacts on hormones, such as testosterone, and could improve gut health and gut inflammation.
How to take Ginseng
Having gained an understanding into which forms of ginseng will work best for you, you might be wondering how to take supplemental Ginseng. Ginseng is available in ingestible forms and topical forms, such as
- Extracts and tinctures
- Food products like honey
- Often found combined with other herbs, especially in Traditional Chinese Medicine
- Topical products such as face masks, face serums, shampoos, and lotions