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What is American ginseng? What is it used for?
American ginseng is a small plant native to the forests of
the northern and central United States. Plant stems grow from
a main root; each stem contains palm-shaped leaves with greenish-white
flowers and red berries.
The root of American ginseng is used medicinally. Ginseng
root is harvested when the plant reaches 4-6 years of age;
the root itself is light beige or brown in color and has long,
American ginseng contains ginsenosides, which stimulate the
immune system and fight fatigue and stress. The type and percentage
of ginsenosides in American ginseng is somewhat different
than the Asian ginseng variety. American ginseng is considered
superior for gastrointestinal problems and is commonly used
in the U.S. to improve athletic and mental performance. Other
studies are examining the use of American ginseng in the treatment
of cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, immune suppression,
aging and depression.
How much American ginseng should I take?
The recommended dose of American ginseng is 1-2 grams fresh
root; 0.6-2 grams dried root; or 200-600ml of a liquid extract
daily. Patients using ginseng to improve mental or physical
performance should take doses in cycles of 15-20 days, followed
by a two-week break.
What forms of American ginseng are available?
Unpeeled, uncooked ginseng can be found at many Asian markets
and grocery stores. Dried and peeled ginseng is available
in powder, capsule or extract form.
What can happen if I take too much
American ginseng? Are there any interactions I should be aware
of? What precautions should I take?
When used at the recommended daily dose, American ginseng
is considered safe. The American Herbal Products Association
has given American ginseng a class 2D rating, indicating a
possible risk for patients with hypertension. It may increase
the effects of caffeine, antipsychotics, blood pressure drugs
or steroidal medications.
Other Resources :
More You Know About Nutrition
Bahrke M, Morgan P. Evaluation of the ergogenic
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Chen X, et al. The effects of panax
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Lewis R, Wake G, Court G, et al. Non-ginsenoside nicotinic
activity in ginseng species. Phytother Res 1999;13(1):5964.
Li J, et al. Panax quinquefolium saponins protects
low density lipoproteins from oxidation. Life Sci 1999;64:5362.
Newall CA, Anderson LA, Phillipson JD. Herbal Medicines:
A Guide for Health Care Professionals. London: The Pharmaceutical