American ginseng (Panax quinquefolium), or five-leaf ginseng, is one of many species of ginseng. There are more than a dozen types of this plant, including red ginseng, Korean ginseng, Chinese ginseng, and others. Regardless of the type, this plant is known particularly in Ayurvedic medicine, but its beneficial effects have made it increasingly popular in our climate as well, especially in the form of supplements. It owes its health-promoting properties mainly to the high concentration of ginsenosides, active compounds which can be found in all varieties of the plant. The difference between species lies in the variety of other compounds, however, ginsenosides play the most important role.
What are ginsenosides?
The most important compounds found in ginseng are ginsenosides. According to the latest research, ginsenosides have a very positive effect on the process of learning and they significantly improve the functioning of the nervous system. Therefore the use of preparations with ginseng is especially recommended to people who deal with intensive mental effort. Ginseng also has an adaptogenic effect, so it is dedicated to all those who struggle with excessive stress. Adaptogens, thanks to ginsenosides, eliminate the negative effects of long-term stress and support the body in adapting to unfavorable conditions. Moreover, ginsenosides are responsible for better oxygenation of the body as they make it easier for hemoglobin to bind oxygen molecules and transport them to all tissues and organs, which translates into the amount of energy received.
This in turn improves mental as well as physical performance. Another important property of ginseng resulting from the presence of ginsenosides is strengthening immunity. These compounds have a very beneficial effect on the immune system, they help to fight viruses, bacteria, and fungi. We should also mention that ginsenosides are strong antioxidants. Antioxidants are extremely important compounds that greatly contribute to the efficient functioning of our body.
In addition to ginsenosides, American ginseng contains carbohydrates, B vitamins, vitamin C and E, minerals such as iron, magnesium, potassium, and trace elements such as manganese, copper, cobalt. Generally, each of the varieties of ginseng has a very similar composition and shows comparable health benefits, however, there are some quite distinct differences between some of the varieties. For example, the Korean variety (as popular as American) stimulates the body, raises blood pressure, and is rather recommended for people who have less energy on a daily basis, or those who struggle with hypotension. American ginseng, on the other hand, has a calming effect. So, it lowers blood pressure and strengthens the lungs, calming the body.