Korean Red Ginseng: Mood Elevating Traditional Medicine

weight lossRed ginseng is a herbal treatment derived from the Panax ginseng plant. The root of the Panax ginseng plant is steamed and then air dried to produce red ginseng. Evidence suggests that red ginseng has mood elevating effects in humans. For example, in one study, researcher administered Korean red ginseng to postmenopausal women with climacteric syndromes such as fatigue, insomnia, depression and anxiety. The subjects received 6 grams of Korean ginseng each day orally. At baseline the women with climacteric syndromes had significantly higher levels of cortisol and lower levels of a steroid hormone dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), compared to controls. When the women were treated with Korean red ginseng, their levels of fatigue, insomnia, depression and anxiety returned to the normal range and their cortisol to DHEA ratio was significantly reduced. The authors of the study concluded that fatigue, insomnia, depression and anxiety of the women may have improved because of an anti-stress effect by the ginseng.

panax ginseng anxiety depression

The main active component of various ginseng plants may be compounds called ginsenosides. These are a group of structurally related saponin compounds. However, evidence suggests that certain species of ginseng have different ginsenoside profiles compared to others. For example while American Ginseng varieties may contain 19 ginsenosides, Korean ginseng varieties may contain 38 different ginsenosides. This may explain the different physiological effects of various ginseng species.

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Tode, T., Kikuchi, Y., Hirata, J., Kita, T., Nakata, H. and Nagata, I. 1999. Effect of Korean red ginseng on psychological functions in patients with severe climacteric syndromes. International Journal of Gynecology & Obstetrics. 67(3): 169-174
Choi, K. T. 2008. Botanical characteristics, pharmacological effects and medicinal components of Korean Panax ginseng CA Meyer. Acta Pharmacologica Sinica. 29(9): 1109-1118

About Robert Barrington

Robert Barrington is a writer, nutritionist, lecturer and philosopher.
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