American Ginseng (Panax Quinquefolius)
The American ginseng plant, Panax quinquefolius, is similar in appearance and is in the same botanic genus as Asian ginseng (panax ginseng). First described in the early 18th century in Eastern Canada, P. quinquefolius was primarily harvested for export to China. American ginseng is also referred to as North American, Canadian, or Wisconsin ginseng, referring to primary areas of harvest or cultivation, although it is now grown in many areas of the world. The root is used medicinally.
Uses and Benefits
Ginsengs are marketed in the U.S. to boost energy, relieve stress, improve concentration, and enhance physical or cognitive performance. Most ginsengs are believed to act as general restoratives, tonics, or adaptogens, which have nonspecific strengthening properties to restore the body’s balance, enhance stamina, and increase resistance to stress and disease.
In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), Asian and American ginsengs are used to restore vital energy in the body. However, American ginseng is considered to have more cooling or calming qualities, as opposed to Asian ginseng’s more heating or stimulating properties. According to TCM theory, American ginseng is used to calm the ailing respiratory or digestive systems and as therapy for diabetes or “thirsty” syndromes, and may be preferred in warmer climates.
Native Americans traditionally employed American ginseng to help with childbirth and fertility and to strengthen mental powers, and for a variety of ailments such as respiratory disorders, headaches, and fevers.
There are few controlled clinical trials using American ginseng products. In one randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover study of eight athletic volunteers, a noncommercial American ginseng extract in a daily dose of 8 – 16 mg/kg for 7 days failed to enhance physical performance as measured by a cycle ergometer. There were no significant differences compared to placebo in any of the outcome measures, which included oxygen uptake, heart rate, time to exhaustion, lactate and glucose concentrations, and rating of perceived exertion.
In a series of randomized, single-blind, placebo-controlled stud
By: Steve Mathew
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