Korean ginseng root (Panax ginseng) — also known as Asian ginseng or Chinese ginseng — is a traditional medicinal herb, used by Asian cultures for more than 2,000 years.
"I grew up in a Korean household and my mom's side of the family turns to Chinese medicine daily," says Eileen Cho, a writer from Paris, France. Her mother makes a soup with ginseng, called samgyetang, to eat during the hottest days of the year, knowing that the spicy root would warm the body, even causing sweat — which actually cools you down on hot days. Cho still takes ginseng in food and as a supplement to boost her energy levels for the day.
Many types of ginseng exist, but not all are "true ginsengs" in the Panax genus. Siberian Ginseng, Indian Ginseng or Ashwagandha, and Peruvian Ginseng or Maca, while unrelated to Korean ginseng, are each powerful adaptogens, helping the body adapt to stress. American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) is related to Korean ginseng, although it has more cooling properties.
Korean ginseng contains natural plant compounds called ginsenosides that interact with your body and positively affect your nervous system, mental function, and quality of life. Experts prepare the root in two ways, leading to the distinctions of red ginseng (using the whole root) and white ginseng (peeled and dried) ginseng.
What’s the History of Korean Ginseng?
The first written record of using ginseng as an herbal medicine dates to about 100 AD, in "The Classic of Herbal Medicine" written by Shennong Ben Cao Jing. According to legend, Shennong would eat about 70 different herbs daily to figure out which ones were good for humans to use. Ginseng was one of those great medicinal herbs in Shennong’s revered opinion.
Korean ginseng became popular in Shangdang, China, around the first century BC during the Han dynasty. It was considered a cure-all herb by early emperors, who consumed it and used it in lotions and soaps. When the root was old, the Chinese believed it passed longevity to those using it.
According to traditional Chinese medicine, ginseng is a warm herb. That means that it makes you feel warm, and is used to treat conditions considered cold, like having a chill you can’t shake. The warmth blooms in your belly and heats you up.
7 Benefits of Korean Ginseng
Korean ginseng is potent, affecting systems from your brain and immune system to your sex drive and sleep patterns. Below are its top seven benefits.
1. Boosts Mental Performance
If you are looking for an herb that can improve cognitive function — in other words keeping your mind clear and sharp — look no further than Korean ginseng. It stimulates the brain, keeps your memory in tip-top shape, and helps you maintain concentration to do what you have to get done.
2. Boosts Sex Drive & Fertility
Called the "king of all herbs," you’ll be feeling amorous more often when you take Korean ginseng. Traditional Chinese medicine has long used Korean red ginseng to help men get erections and maintain them for a longer period of time. The ginsenosides have a powerful effect on promoting normal sperm viability and fertility.
3. Natural Immune Booster
Whether you feel the sniffles coming on or everyone else around you is having sneezing fits, ginseng will naturally kick your immune system into gear. It counters harmful organisms in the body, which keeps you feeling better the entire sick season.[8, 9]
4. Helps Relieve Stress
If you want to get a brighter outlook and a feeling of better mental health, Korean ginseng evens out stress-related changes. That means you won’t feel so down in the dumps on blue days. Instead, you’ll feel lifted and ready to take on the world.[5, 10]
5. Reduces Fatigue & Improves Sleep
With ginseng, you can do away with those mid-afternoon slumps. Ginseng root helps you get better-quality sleep. That means you wake up in the morning feeling refreshed and free from fatigue that makes your day drag.
6. Promotes Healthy Skin
Maintain your glowing, healthy skin with a red ginseng supplement that fends off scavenging free radicals. Blemishes will be stopped before they even take hold thanks to the boost to your immune system.
7. Promotes a Normal Response to Inflammation
It’s a fact of hard exercise — it can damage your muscles for a little while. But with red ginseng, it can be minimal. This root promotes a normal response to inflammation, keeping muscles from overreacting to stress.
Best Ways to Add Korean Ginseng to Your Diet
It’s pretty easy to add Korean ginseng to your daily routine. You can find it in tea or in dietary supplements. You can also add it to your favorite recipes. Avoid energy drinks and wine made with ginseng to ensure you’re staying as healthy as possible.
Many people like to chew on the raw root; it’s perfectly safe to eat on its own. Korean ginseng root has a slight bitterness that fades into an earthy root vegetable flavor. The raw root may have a strong flavor, so many people like to cook it into soups and other dishes or make ginseng tea.
Stress-Relieving Korean Ginseng Tea
Try making this stress-relieving ginseng tea, especially if raw ginseng root is too strong for you.
- 1 teabag of Korean ginseng tea or 7 slices of raw root
- Lavender buds
- Peppermint leaf
- Raw honey (optional)
- Heat water to just before boiling. Turn off heat.
- Add lavender buds, peppermint leaf, and teabag (or slices) and steep for three minutes.
- Strain out lavender and peppermint if desired.
- Add raw honey to taste.
You can find Korean ginseng supplements as powders, capsules, or liquid extracts. No matter what supplement you choose, look for and select the highest quality ingredients and companies with experience in sourcing and production.
Look for the certified organic seal on any ginseng product. You want to know exactly what’s going into your body and how it’s made. If the product is not certified organic and doesn’t list both active and inactive ingredients, avoid it.
Global Healing’s Ginseng Fuzion® is a certified organic blend of Korean ginseng along with Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus), Indian ginseng also called ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), Peruvian ginseng also known as maca (Lepidium meyenii), and other herbs. Made using our proprietary Raw Herbal Extract™ process, Ginseng Fuzion promotes energy, reduces stress, and encourages physical and mental balance. Try it today!
Points to Remember
People have used Korean ginseng for thousands of years. Whether in traditional Chinese medicine or the modern era, Korean ginseng (also called Panax ginseng) helps memory, soothes skin, improves sleep quality, boosts libido, and counters oxidative stress. Its antioxidant properties are well known.
It’s easy to add Korean ginseng to your diet. You can chew on the raw root, use it in cooking, or add it to beverages. It makes an excellent and easy-to-make tea that helps relieve stress at the end of a long day.
You can take Korean ginseng as a supplement in powder, pill, or liquid form. Be sure you choose a quality company that’s up-front about where their supplement is coming from and how it’s made.
Have you tried Korean ginseng for any of its health benefits? What did you discover? Let us know what you thought in the comments below.
- Asian Ginseng. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, National Institutes of Health. Updated Sep 2016. Accessed 13 Jan 2020.
- Yang JP, Yeo IS. A study on the origins of ‘Korean ginseng.’ Uisahak. 2004 Jun;13(1):1-19.
- Ginseng. University of Wisconsin-Extension. Updated 07 Feb 2020. Accessed 07 Feb 2020.
- Dharmananda S. The nature of ginseng: traditional use, modern research, and the question of dosage. Herbalgram: The Journal of the American Botanical Council. 2002; 54:34-51.
- Ong WY, et al. Protective effects of ginseng on neurological disorders. Front Aging Neurosci. 2015 Jul 16;7:129.
- Leung KW, Wong AS. Ginseng and male reproductive function. Spermatogenesis. 2013 Jul 1;3(3):e26391.
- de Andrade E, et al. Study of the efficacy of Korean Red Ginseng in the treatment of erectile dysfunction. Asian J Androl. 2007 Mar;9(2):241-244.
- Lee JS, et al. Immunomodulatory activity of red ginseng against influenza A virus infection. Nutrients. 2014 Jan 27;6(2):517-529.
- Kang S, Min H. Ginseng, the 'immunity boost': the effects of Panax ginseng on immune system. J Ginseng Res. 2012 Oct;36(4):354-368.
- Lee S, Rhee DK. Effects of ginseng on stress-related depression, anxiety, and the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. J Ginseng Res. 2017 Oct;41(4):589-594.
- Kim HG, et al. Antifatigue effects of Panax ginseng C.A. Meyer: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. PLoS One. 2013 Apr 17;8(4):e61271.
- Hong CE, Lyu SY. Anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative effects of Korean red ginseng extract in human keratinocytes. Immune Netw. 2011 Feb;11(1):42-49.
- Jung HL, et al. Effects of Panax ginseng supplementation on muscle damage and inflammation after uphill treadmill running in humans. Am J Chin Med. 2011;39(3):441-450.
†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.