Research Consensus: A staple in traditional medicine with growing evidence confirming its health benefits.
- Cancer patients who took ginseng in one study experienced about 50% less fatigue than those who didn't.
- Cognitive Function: Some studies have demonstrated that ginseng may improve cognitive performance. A review found that individuals who consumed ginseng experienced about a 10-15% improvement in cognitive function, especially in tasks related to mental arithmetic and reaction times.
- Physical Performance: Ginseng is often cited as an adaptogen, helping the body deal with stress. Some trials have shown ginseng supplementation to enhance physical activity levels by up to 20% in fatigue-reduced individuals.
- Immune System Boost: Ginseng has been shown to boost the efficacy of vaccines and promote the activity of natural killer cells. One study reported an approximately 45% increase in the efficacy of the flu vaccine in participants taking ginseng.
- Blood Sugar Regulation: Ginseng can help regulate blood sugar levels. In some studies, patients with type 2 diabetes who took ginseng had blood sugar levels that were 20-30% lower than those who didn't take ginseng.
- Anti-Fatigue: Ginseng has been noted for its anti-fatigue effects. In cancer patients, for instance, ginseng was shown to reduce fatigue by 40% compared to a placebo group.
- Erectile Dysfunction: Some research suggests ginseng might be useful for treating erectile dysfunction. One study reported that men treated with Korean red ginseng had a 60% improvement in erectile function compared to a placebo group.
- Antioxidant Effects: Ginseng has antioxidant properties that can help reduce oxidative stress. In certain studies, markers of oxidative stress were decreased by about 20% in individuals taking ginseng.
- Anti-inflammatory Effects: Ginsenosides, the primary active compounds in ginseng, have anti-inflammatory effects. While hard to quantify universally, some studies report significant reductions in inflammatory markers in both cell cultures and in animal models after ginseng treatment.
Can Ginseng Really Slow Down the Aging Process? Experts Weigh In
Ginseng has been used for centuries in traditional medicine, particularly in Asian cultures, for its perceived health benefits. It is an adaptogen, meaning it supports living cells to maintain optimal homeostasis by exerting effects that counteract physiological changes caused by physical, chemical, or biological stressors. As we age, our bodies are exposed to a variety of stressors that can contribute to the development of age-related diseases and the visible signs of aging, such as wrinkles. Emerging evidence suggests that ginseng may have a role in anti-aging by increasing moisture in human skin and inhibiting wrinkle formation.1,2
One of the most well-known effects of ginseng on the skin is its ability to increase moisture levels. Our skin contains natural moisturizing factors (NMFs) that help to keep it hydrated and healthy. As we age, the levels of NMFs in our skin decline, leading to dryness, flakiness, and other signs of aging. Ginseng has been shown to increase the levels of NMFs in the skin, helping to improve moisture levels and prevent the visible signs of aging.1,3-5
A study looking at the antioxidant and moisturizing properties of oil extracted from Korean red ginseng (KRO) found that KRO was effective at scavenging peroxyl radicals in a dose-dependent manner, which means that the more KRO was used, the more effective it was at neutralizing these harmful molecules. In addition to its antioxidant properties, KRO was also found to have a moisturizing effect on the skin. The researchers conducted a two-week study on 20-30-year-old females and found that the use of a moisturizer with KRO improved the moisture content of the skin.4
Another study investigated an enzyme-modified ginseng extract (EG) that was applied as a cream to the skin of 23 people to see if it could prevent eye wrinkles. They found that the EG cream significantly reduced signs of photo-damage and decreased roughness of the skin compared to a placebo cream. The people who used the EG cream also reported that it was more moisturizing and softening than the placebo.5
In addition to its effects on skin hydration, ginseng may also have a role in preventing the formation of wrinkles.5 Wrinkles are a natural part of the aging process, but they can be exacerbated by environmental factors such as UV radiation, pollution, and smoking. These factors can lead to the breakdown of collagen and elastin, two proteins that help to keep our skin firm and elastic. Ginseng has been shown to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects that may help to protect against the damage caused by these environmental stressors.6
Ginseng may also have a role in preventing age-related cognitive decline. As we age, our cognitive function declines, leading to a variety of age-related cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer's disease and dementia. Ginseng has been shown to have neuroprotective effects that may help to prevent or delay the onset of these cognitive disorders.6
A study published in the Journal of Ginseng Research found that a ginseng extract improved cognitive function in mice with Alzheimer's disease. The study investigated the effects of Korean red ginseng (KRG) on alcohol-induced responses in mice. Alcohol is a commonly used psychoactive drug that can have addictive characteristics and cause various side effects. The study assessed two aspects: alcohol-induced addictive responses and spatial working memory impairments. To do so, conditioned place preference tests and withdrawal symptom observations were performed for addictive responses, while recognition tests were conducted for spatial working memory impairments. The results showed that KRG could reduce withdrawal symptoms to alcohol and restore impaired spatial working memory following repeated alcohol exposure. Furthermore, the study found that KRG could reduce inflammation induced by alcohol.7
Another study published in the European Journal of Nutrition found that a ginseng extract improved cognitive function in healthy young adults.8
In addition to its effects on skin hydration, wrinkle formation, and cognitive function, ginseng may have a role in preventing age-related diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.9 These diseases are characterized by chronic inflammation and oxidative stress, two processes that contribute to the aging process. Ginseng has been shown to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects that may help to prevent or delay the onset of these diseases.6
There are several ways to consume ginseng, including as a tea, supplement, or topical application. Ginseng supplements are available in a variety of forms, including capsules, powders, and extracts. Topical ginseng preparations are also available and may be used to improve skin hydration.
- Meng H, Liu XK, Li JR, Bao TY, Yi F. Bibliometric analysis of the effects of ginseng on skin. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology. 2022 Jan;21(1):99-107.
- Lee MJ, Won CH, Lee SR, Kim JS, Oh IG, Hwang EI, Kim NM, Kang BC, Chung JH. Oral administration of KTNG0345 prepared from red ginseng extracts reduces UVB-induced skin wrinkle formation in hairless mice. Journal of Ginseng Research. 2008;32(1):48-56.
- Kim YH, Park HR, Cha SY, Lee SH, Jo JW, Go JN, Lee KH, Lee SY, Shin SS. Effect of red ginseng NaturalGEL on skin aging. Journal of Ginseng Research. 2020 Jan 1;44(1):115-22.
- Shon MS, Song JH, Kim JS, Jang HD, Kim GN. Anti-oxidant activity of oil extracted from Korean red ginseng and its moisturizing function. Kor J Aesthet Cosmetol. 2013;11(3):489-94.
- Hwang E, Park SY, Jo H, Lee DG, Kim HT, Kim YM, Yin CS, Yi TH. Efficacy and safety of enzyme-modified Panax ginseng for anti-wrinkle therapy in healthy skin: a single-center, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Rejuvenation Research. 2015 Oct 1;18(5):449-57
- de Oliveira Zanuso B, Dos Santos AR, Miola VF, Campos LM, Spilla CS, Barbalho SM. Panax ginseng and aging related disorders: A systematic review. Experimental Gerontology. 2022 Feb 7:111731.
- Kim HJ, Lee MY, Kim GR, Lee HJ, Sayson LV, Ortiz DM, Cheong JH, Kim M. Korean red ginseng extract attenuates alcohol-induced addictive responses and cognitive impairments by alleviating neuroinflammation. Journal of Ginseng Research. 2023 Feb 22.
- Bell L, Whyte A, Duysburgh C, Marzorati M, Van den Abbeele P, Le Cozannet R, Fança-Berthon P, Fromentin E, Williams C. A randomized, placebo-controlled trial investigating the acute and chronic benefits of American Ginseng (Cereboost®) on mood and cognition in healthy young adults, including in vitro investigation of gut microbiota changes as a possible mechanism of action. European journal of nutrition. 2022 Feb 1:1-6.
- Hyun SH, Bhilare KD, In G, Park CK, Kim JH. Effects of Panax ginseng and ginsenosides on oxidative stress and cardiovascular diseases: pharmacological and therapeutic roles. Journal of Ginseng Research. 2022 Jan 1;46(1):33-8.