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7 American Ginseng Health Benefits, Side Effects & Cautions

Written by Helen Quach, BS (Biochemistry) | Reviewed by Nattha Wannissorn, PhD | Last updated:
Jonathan Ritter
Medically reviewed by
Jonathan Ritter, PharmD, PhD (Pharmacology) | Written by Helen Quach, BS (Biochemistry) | Reviewed by Nattha Wannissorn, PhD | Last updated:

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American Ginseng is a potent herb that has many health benefits. It acts as an antioxidant, enhances brain function, protects against cancer, and is anti-diabetic. Keep reading to learn more about its benefits.

What is American Ginseng?

American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) is a herb that grows mainly in North America. This particular 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 for stress, to boost the immune system, and as a stimulant [1].

Ginsenosides are the active components of ginseng and are usually found in the root extracts. Ginsenosides have antioxidant properties and can also help protect the brain [2].

Health Benefits of American Ginseng

1) Has Antioxidant Effects

Ginseng and ginsenosides have an anti-oxidant effect that is manifested as a decrease in oxidative stress [3].

Ginsenosides Rg2 and Rh1 are effective at improving energy metabolism and protecting mitochondria [4].

2) Enhances Brain Function

American ginseng and ginsenosides enhanced cognitive performance and mood.

Administration of American ginseng to healthy young adults enhanced working memory, calmness, and mood [5].

Ginseng and ginsenosides can rescue nerve cells by increasing cell survival, extending neurite (projections sticking out of neurons that allow for communication with other neurons) growth, and rescuing neurons from death both in humans and cell cultures [6].

Ginseng and ginsenosides also showed beneficial effects on disease models of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases [7].

Long-term ginsenoside administration to mice prevented memory loss or impairment [8].

3) Protects the Heart

In the United States, American ginseng is a popular herbal supplement for patients suffering from heart disease [4].

The antioxidant properties of the herb may be producing its protective effects. American ginseng extract had stronger antioxidant activity than Asian ginseng root. The root and berry extracts both showed antioxidant and protective effects in cultured heart cells [7].

4) May Have Anti-diabetic Effects

Insulin resistance and impaired insulin secretion can cause Type 2 diabetes.

Both American and Asian ginseng root lowered diabetic effects in mice [9].

In healthy humans, it also lowered diabetic nerve and heart damage [7].

5) Cancer

American ginseng has anti-tumor properties [7].

Ginseng extract enhanced the chemopreventive effect of a cancer drug in human colon cells. It also improved cancer-related fatigue and produced radioprotective potential in the cells of healthy individuals [7].

6) May Have Anti-Inflammatory Effects

Several ginsenosides such as Rd, Rg1, Re, Rg3, Rh2, and Rb1 can control brain inflammatory responses in cultured brain cells. The anti-inflammatory effects might be related to the antioxidant property of ginseng [6].

It also suppresses inflammation in the colon and prevents DNA damage from occurring [10].

7) May Ameliorate Withdrawal Symptoms

Ginseng can reduce the behavioral and physiological responses to addictive drugs and ameliorate the withdrawal symptoms.

Pseudo Ginsenoside-F11, a saponin contained in American ginseng, effectively reduced anxiety, depression, and memory deficits and alterations of monoamine contents in mouse brains [6].

8) May Improve Gut Health

An animal study found that rats that took American Ginseng had improved gut health [11].

Side Effects and Cautions

American ginseng may cause insomnia, birth defects, and cause hormone levels to fluctuate.

It also interferes with the effects of warfarin and might cause blood sugar to plummet drastically if taken in conjunction with diabetes medicine [12].

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About the Author

Helen Quach

BS (Biochemistry)

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