Panax ginseng takes the shape of red ginseng when heated, either under the sun or through steaming. The other names used for this dried variant of ginseng are red Korean ginseng and Chinese red ginseng. Red ginsengs are always formulated by drying the roots of Panax ginseng. These dried roots are frequently brewed for preparing herbal infusions and used for fighting a number of health complications. You will also come across renowned companies selling health supplements containing this herbal preparation. Ginseng in this form was primarily known for its aphrodisiac effects; however, now it is widely used as a preventive or curative remedy for several medical conditions.
Although no studies to date have proved that any particular preparation of ginseng possesses more medicinal properties than others, traditionally, the healers have believed that Chinese red ginseng is the most powerful source of medicinally active compounds. Here are some of the most prominent health benefits offered by red ginseng.
- 1. This herbal preparation is a strong antioxidant. Regular intake of red ginseng supplements offer protection to the living tissues against the free radicals. Free radicals are detrimental compounds produced by human body in response to sunlight, stress, air pollution, cigarette smoke and many other harmful stimuli. Increases in free radicals can cause serious health problems like cancers and heart diseases. Studies have shown that ginseng can effectively minimize damages caused by free radicals in response to bad cholesterol or LDL cholesterol. The herb can also offer protection to your brain cells against oxidation.
- 2. Korean ginseng supplements are frequently used for preventing cardiovascular disorders. These supplements work by reducing the levels of low density lipoprotein or bad cholesterol and increasing the levels of high density lipoprotein or good cholesterol. One of the major red ginseng benefits is its ability of lowering the blood pressure levels in people with hypertension. However, some clinical studies have also suggested that ginseng can end up worsening the condition of hypertension patients. So, it is advisable that a person with hypertension or history of high blood pressure takes the herb or supplements made from the herb only after consulting a physician.
- 3. Traditionally, red ginseng root is considered to be an adaptogen, i.e. a compound that helps the body and mind of human beings in coping with stress. Herbalists suggest that supplementation of Chinese red ginsengs help people in coping with mental, emotional and physical stress. This herbal preparation is instrumental in enhancing one’s problem solving powers, concentration, focus and memory. However, as there’s no scientific study proving the prowess of red ginseng in fighting mental disorders, one should not use the herb for this purpose without a professional consultation.
- 4. Often you will come across athletes who consume supplements of Chinese red ginseng for boosting their endurance and physical strength and reducing fatigue. When compared to artificial stimulants and steroids, ginseng is believed to be a lot safer option for regular use. Moreover, according to reports, none of the major sporting or athletic organizations of the world has announced ginseng to be a forbidden substance.
- 5. There is significant scientific evidence supporting the fact that red Korean ginseng is useful for boosting the immune system. The herb possesses the ability of triggering healthy immune responses allowing human body to fight infections successfully. Ginseng works by augmenting the production of the disease-fighting WBCs (white blood cell). It is also known for its ability of enhancing the efficiency of vaccines. However, you should never consume ginseng supplements for treating infections without asking your doctor.
In spite of the fact that people belonging to every corner of the globe have benefited hugely from the medicinal properties of red ginseng, medical experts are seriously concerned about the drug interactions and side effects caused by continuous use of ginseng. Usually, ginseng is well tolerated by most; however, you must be cautious about the reactions occurring in your system while under the dosage of ginseng supplement.
Red Ginseng Drug Interactions
Ginseng is known for its ability of causing bleeding. As a result, you should not consume this herb while on dosage of medications used for thinning the blood. Some examples of blood thinners are: heparin, aspirin, etc. Ginseng can also react with anti-platelet medications like Plavix. According most medical practitioners, one should not have ginseng supplements along with naproxen, ibuprofen or other NSAIDs. You should avoid intake of the herb while taking monoamine oxidase inhibitors or the MAOIs (used for treating patients with depression) as ginseng can react with these drugs resulting in adverse effects like tremors, mania, insomnia and headaches. In addition to all these, there are several instances where red Korean ginseng has reacted with blood pressure medications like calcium channel blockers and diuretics like Lasix decreasing their effects significantly.
Red Ginseng Side Effects
Chinese red ginsengs are associated with numerous side effects; the most common ones among them are mental changes. The mental changes triggered by this herbal preparation are: over-stimulation, anxiety, restlessness, depression, insomnia, manic episodes (observed in individuals suffering from bipolar disorder) and confusion. Neurological disorders like vertigo, headaches and dizziness are some other common ill effects resulting from supplementation of ginseng. Inflammation of nerves is common among individuals using ginseng daily, which can make them suffer from muscle spasms. Long term use of the herb may also generate gastrointestinal disorders like vomiting and nausea.
If you are on dosage of ginseng, you are at high risk of experiencing abnormal vaginal bleeding and increase in bleeding during surgeries. Due to this feature of ginseng, people are advised to stop taking the herb at least a week before undergoing any surgery. Fast or irregular heartbeat and congestive heart failure are also possible if one takes ginseng along with coffee.
Sexual red ginseng side effects include male breast enlargement, irregular menstruation in women, breast tenderness, loss of libido etc. Women with hormonally sensitive medical conditions like uterine cancer, breast cancer, PCOS and endometriosis should avoid consuming red ginseng in any form. Ginseng is also not recommended to nursing mothers and pregnant women as it might harm newborns and the growing fetuses.