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Ginseng FAQs - Frequently Asked Questions

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"Here's many of the commonly asked questions and our answers to them. If you still have some pressing questions that haven't been answered below, please do not hesitate to contact our office immediately and we will try our best to help you!" - Sue Armstrong

1. What is American Ginseng?
2. Why should I choose Simply Ginseng products?
3. Why should I choose organic ginseng?
4. How does ginseng work?
5. What are the active substances in American ginseng?
6. Why should I take American Ginseng?
7. What are the traditional uses of American ginseng?
8. How does American ginseng help with stress?
9. Can American ginseng strengthen my immune system?
10. Can American ginseng help the brain?
11. Can American ginseng help with normalising blood glucose levels?
12. Does American ginseng improve male sexual function?
13. Can American ginseng help with for menopause?
14. Who should take American ginseng?
15. How much and how often should I take American ginseng?
16. How quickly does American ginseng work?
17. What is the best way to take ginseng - roots or capsules?
18. Can I take too much or too little American ginseng?
19. Is there any reason that I should not take American ginseng?
20. What is your reference list for Blood Glucose information?

Ginseng information

Question 1: What is American Ginseng?

Answer: American ginseng (Panax quinquefolium) is a small plant originating from the deciduous forests of North America. It is a true ginseng, being in the Panax genus and containing the full range of bioactive ginsenosides that result in ginseng's unique effect. Initially prized by Native Americans, it is now recognized as one of the world's most remarkable and valued medicinal herbs.

American ginseng should not be confused with herbs sold as Siberian, Indian and Brazilian ginseng - these are not from the Panax genus and do not contain any of ginseng's bioactive substances or botanical characteristics.

Question 2: Why should I choose Simply Ginseng products?

Answer: "Simply Ginseng" products are unique in that they are made from ginseng roots that are grown using organic or biodynamic methods. This ensures that there are no chemical residues in our products. We grow all our fresh roots and dried root slices on our Demeter-certified biodynamic farm in Australia. Our Ginseng 500 capsules contain pure dried root powder from a single certified organic grower in Canada. They are manufactured in Australia in a facility that is licensed with the Therapeutic Goods Administration.

The way we operate means we take full control and responsibility for all phases of production - this ensures our products are safe and pure. Our capsules contain 500mg of pure American ginseng - nothing else. We specialise in American ginseng - we grow, import, manufacture and sell it. We market direct to our customers, and place a high value on customer service and satisfaction.

Question 3: Why should I choose organic ginseng?

Answer: Ginseng is a very valuable crop that takes 5 to 6 years to gain a high medicinal value. Because it is susceptible to fungi and other pathogens, most growers around the world spray their ginseng with chemical pesticides many times throughout the growing period.

A recent study of Korean and American ginseng published in the Journal Food Additives and Contaminants found pesticides in 80% of samples tested. Further, 43% of all samples tested did not comply with the maximum residue limits (MRL) for several chemical pesticides. Almost all ginseng sold today is grown using chemicals.

Using organically grown ginseng means these chemicals will not be present.

Question 4: How does ginseng work?

Answer: Ginseng is an adaptogen - which means it acts to normalize body functions. It contains over thirty bioactive substances, and that’s why it can help with many different areas of our body. Ginseng does not improve an already healthy body, but helps to maintain health in the face of illness, stress, and chemical or physical assault.

It can therefore help protect us from the negative effects of carcinogens, radiation, and chemicals. It helps guard against infections by strengthening the immune system. It also helps balance disturbances in metabolism, including blood glucose. Its actions on the nervous system are well documented and result in a range of beneficial effects.

Question 5: What are the active substances in American ginseng?

Answer: The main active components of American ginseng are a group of over 30 different saponins known as ginsenosides. An additional bioactive substance is an acidic polysaccharide known as "Ginsan", which has marked immune-stimulating activity. Some ginsenosides have complementary actions, and these are believed to be responsible for the remarkable balancing Yin and Yan effects of ginseng that have been appreciated by the Chinese for many centuries.

Question 6: Why should I take American Ginseng?

Answer: American ginseng helps maintain and improve your health. It is widely used to enhance the overall feeling of wellbeing and vitality, and for its preventative and restorative functions. It helps the body cope with stress, boosts the immune system, relieves fatigue and helps maintain normal brain function. It is also useful in helping to regulate various metabolic disturbances including blood sugar and lipid levels.

Ginseng also acts as an antioxidant, scavenging free radicals in the body - this has an anti-aging and anticancer effect. American ginseng's popularity as an aphrodisiac may be associated with its effect on vitality. The Chinese use American ginseng to benefit the Qi, nourish the Yin and relieve symptoms of Yin deficiency.

Question 7: What are the traditional uses of American ginseng?

Answer: Native Americans used it as an aphrodisiac, and to treat a wide range of ailments associated with the aging process. Other medicinal uses included menstrual problems and fertility, nausea, indigestion, stomach problems, bronchitis, earaches, bleeding, asthma, headaches, and the relief of fevers.

Question 8: How does American ginseng help with stress?

Answer: Stress lies at the heart of many diseases. The overproduction of stress hormones can damage the body, interfere with many body systems and weaken the body's defenses to a range of diseases. American ginseng works to reduce the amount of stress hormones that the body produces. This helps alleviate feelings of stress and reduces the damage to the body caused by excess of these hormones.

Question 9: Can American ginseng strengthen my immune system?

Answer: Ginseng stimulates the immune system by increasing the number of white blood cells and antibodies in the blood. These help protect the body from disease and fight infection. American ginseng extracts are now sold as pharmaceutical medicines for colds and flu, and are even added to vaccines to make them more effective. Please note that all of the substances in these extracts (and more) are also in pure root powder!

Question 10: Can American ginseng help the brain?

Answer: American ginseng helps activate the brain and maintain normal learning and memory. Its antioxidant effects are useful in combating brain aging. Some studies have found that it helps protect nervous tissue when the supply of oxygen is suddenly reduced (as occurs during strokes). A branch of Alzheimer’s disease research is now studying the effects of ginseng on the actions on the natural chemicals that transmit messages between nerves (especially acetylcholine) - these are similar to those of some pharmaceutical drugs used for this disease.

Question 11: Can American ginseng help with normalising blood glucose levels?

Answer: Mild and moderate blood glucose problems can usually be managed by a combination of diet, exercise and daily natural or pharmaceutical medicines if necessary. However the value of two herbs, American ginseng and Coccinia, are being increasingly recognised. Because they have different modes of action, they complement each other. Please remember to consult with your health care professional before changing your blood glucose management regime.

American ginseng helps glucose uptake by cells in the body, and may also help stimulate insulin production. Both of these actions reduce blood sugar. Coccinia enables glucose to be absorbed from the small intestine over a longer period of time, thus reducing glucose spikes.

Question 12: Does American ginseng improve male sexual function?

Answer: American Indians traditionally used ginseng for impotency, to invigorate virile powers, and as an aphrodisiac. This may be due to its adaptogenic effect - it enhances vitality and helps bring the body back towards normal.

Question 13: Can American ginseng help with for menopause?

Answer: American ginseng's main function during menopause is to support the general wellbeing of the woman. It may bring relief to the symptoms of depression and mood swings experienced, but it does not influence hot flushes and other physical changes that occur at this stage of life.

Question 14: Who should take American ginseng?

Answer: Ginseng can improve and maintain health in adults of any age. Because of its action, most people over the age of 40 are likely to benefit. If your health is good, the preventative and balancing actions of ginseng against such conditions as heart and circulatory diseases and many others can be helpful, even if you perceive no direct effect. Its capacity to help protect the brain from the aging process is of benefit to everyone. A regular course of American ginseng is particularly recommended for those who are busy and need to cope with stress, wish to boost their immune system, or are who recovering from an illness.

Question 15: How much and how often should I take American ginseng?

Answer: The recommended daily adult dose is 1 gram of American ginseng powder. This can be increased to 2 grams per day during times of stress or sickness. American ginseng is perhaps best taken once per day after breakfast with a glass of liquid. For improved blood glucose control, some studies suggest that the total daily dose should be between one and two grams (1000mg to 2000mg) per day and divided into two or three. Thus one 500mg capsule three times per day at the start (or just before) meals..

Question 16: How quickly does American ginseng work?

Answer: Unlike many pharmaceutical medicines, ginseng has a gentle action and its effects may not be felt immediately. Although some people feel a greater sense of wellbeing and improved mental clarity almost straight away, most people do not feel the benefits for several weeks. However, the benefits also appear to last several weeks after you cease to take ginseng. The more balanced and healthy your body is to begin with, the less likely you are to feel the effects.

Question 17: What is the best way to take ginseng - roots or capsules?

Answer: Either is fine. American ginseng has a uniquely bitter/sweet taste, and many people prefer to take it in capsule form. Taking capsules containing a precise amount of root powder is probably the best and most convenient way to take ginseng.

Dried root powder can also be mixed in a small glass of orange juice or milk. Leave it to stand for about 10 minutes before taking to allow the water-soluble ingredients to dissolve. If you like the unique taste of ginseng, hold fresh or dried root slices under the tongue for several minutes before chewing and swallowing (using one gram of dried or three grams of fresh root). Fresh and dried root is also frequently used as an ingredient in cooking.

Question 18: Can I take too much or too little American ginseng?

Answer: American ginseng has a very high safety margin. However there is usually little additional benefit in taking more than the recommended dose. Taking too little ginseng will not produce the desired effect. The recommended dose for adults is 0.5 to 3 grams per day, and most people find that 1 gram (1000mg) daily is effective. For blood sugar control please see Question15..

Question 19: Is there any reason that I should not take American ginseng?

Answer: Considering its medicinal value, American ginseng has relatively few side effects and contraindications. It is actually sometimes taken in much higher doses than those we recommend. Although the American Botanical Council states that there are no known contraindications for American ginseng, our research has come up with a few. If in doubt, consult your health care professional.

Good research shows that ginseng has a neutral effect on blood pressure, but take care, and get specialist treatment, if you have uncontrolled high blood pressure. Ginseng reduces the effectiveness of warfarin, a blood thinning agent (and rodent poison). Because ginseng helps reduce blood sugar, you should take this into account if you need to take oral hypoglycaemic agents or insulin (ie you might need to lower the dose of these drugs, so discuss with your healthcare professional). We suggest you do not take ginseng with antidepressants such as phenelzine (however our research shows that this link is not supported by science).. Although the authorities have examined and cleared ginseng for use during pregnancy, we suggest you try to avoid any medicine if you know you are pregnant. Also, don't take ginseng immediately you come down with an acute illness; wait a few days before starting a course to support your body in the healing phase.

There is also some evidence to suggest that large amounts of caffeine taken in conjunction with ginseng may cause nervousness and sleeplessness. Interestingly, in the absence of high caffeine levels, American ginseng helps ease nervousness and promotes natural sleep.

Question 20: What is your reference list for Blood Glucose information?

Vuksan V, Stavro MP, Sievenpiper JL, et al, American ginseng improves glycaemia in individuals with normal glucose tolerance: effect of dose and time escalation. J Am Coll Nutr 2000;19(6):738-44.

Vuksan V, Sievenpiper JL, Koo VY, Francis T, Beljan-Zdravkovic U, Xu Z, Vidgen E. American ginseng reduces postprandial glycaemia in nondiabetic subjects and subjects with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Arch Intern Med 2000 Apr;160(7):1009-13.

Vuksan V, Leiter LA, Stavro MP, et al. Similar postprandial glycaemic reductions with escalation of dose and administration of American ginseng in Type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care 2000 Sep;23(9):1221-6.

Vuksan V, Sievenpiper JL, Wong J, et al. American ginseng (Panax quinquefolium L.) attenuates postprandial glycaemia in a time-dependent but not dose dependent manner in healthy individuals. Am J Clin Nutr 2001;73:753-8.

Vuksan V, Sievenpiper JL, Xu Z, et al. Konjac Mannan and American ginseng: emerging alternative therapies for type 2 diabetes mellitus. J Am Coll Nutr 2001;20(5):370S-380S.

Yeh GY, Eisenberg DM, Kaptchuk TJ, Phillips RS. Systematic Review of herbs and dietary supplements for glycaemic control in diabetes. Diabetes Care 2003 Apr;26(4):1277-1304.

Luo JZ, Yano N, Luo L. American Ginseng stimulates insulin production and prevents apoptosis induced by IL-1[beta] in pancreatic B cells. Diabetes 2003;52 Suppl.1A354:1534-P.

Luo JZ, Luo L, Ginseng on Hyperglycaemia: Effects and Mechanisms. Evid. Based Comp Alt Med. 2008 Jan; doi:10.1093ecam/nem178..

Please note:
Any scientific information has been assembled by Simply Ginseng from reputable peer-reviewed scientific journals. We have tried to ensure it is clear, balanced and without bias. This information should not be construed as claims for any of our products. Always consult your health care professional.Use only as directed. Always read the label.
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