The world is no stranger to the ancient remedy Panax Ginseng which has been a staple in traditional Chinese medicine for decades. The plant's widespread effects have earned it a place on the ingredient lists of several thousand products.
But the one that piques my interest most is, of course, brain enhancers. Let's delve into the effectiveness and safety of Panax Ginseng as a nootropic below:
What Is Panax Ginseng?
Panax Ginseng, also known as Asian Ginseng, is one of 11 types of Ginseng plants used in herbal/alternative medicine. As the name suggests, the Asian Ginseng plant originates from Asia but has roots firmly placed around the world. This has helped it become more recognized in modern medicine.
Ginseng has a stimulating effect on the body and mind due to the potency of its active compound—ginsenosides, which contributes to its efficacy.
The plant enhances memory and cognitive/brain function through the presence of this active compound. It promotes neurotransmitter activity in the brain while increasing protein synthesis, improving blood circulation to support mental acceleration.
Are There Any Nootropic Benefits in Panax Ginseng?
Thousands of clinical trials involving Panax Ginseng have reported that the root is quite effective in alleviating symptoms of aging, flu, erectile dysfunction, digestion, diabetes, blood circulation, immune deficiency, menopause, cancer, and much more. As mentioned, its effects extend to the brain as well as it claims to improve cognition and memory while reducing stress.
Below I expand on the efficacy of Ginseng as a nootropic that positively affects different mental processes:
Anxiety, mood, and stress
I found an NCBI study that shows that Ginseng can help individuals deal with stress-induced anxiety and moodiness. Ginseng promotes better moods and reduces stress. It does this through its adaptogen properties which eliminate adrenal fatigue while boosting GABA. This produces an ideal anti-stress effect. In addition, Panax regulates immune responses, which supports better moods. These benefits also help users achieve better quality sleep which supports mental clarity.
Ginseng has a significant impact on both neurotransmitter communication and protection. This helps streamline thinking processes. The root also works as a serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor, which helps alleviate depression and promote focus.
Ginseng acts as both an anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant agent. These properties help it fight fatigue and promote energy. After reviewing several studies, I found that some components in Ginseng, like polysaccharides and oligopeptides, can increase brain energy and decrease fatigue. This helps users endure more mentally.
Increased Brain Function
Ginseng reduces oxidants from the brain, which improves cognition, thinking processes, and brain function. Results from a 2018 study I reviewed showed that compounds in Panax can improve cognition, thinking processes and help cognitive deficits. In addition, another study showed that the herb enhanced frontal lobe function. Together these results show that Panax users can manage executive functions more efficiently.
Studies show that Panax Ginseng stimulates higher energy levels which significantly reduces fatigue. The elimination of fatigue allows users to take on physical tasks more efficiently. It also improves mental productivity helping users focus more, improve their mood and enhance their decision-making abilities.
Pros And Cons
What Are the Possible Side Effects of Panax Ginseng Use?
Panax Ginseng produces relatively mild side effects which don't last very long. These side effects are quite a common occurrence, especially when using natural/herbal remedies that manipulate cognitive function. The appearance of side effects does not mean that Panax use should be discontinued or suggest that the ingredient is ineffective or too potent. It simply means that the body is becoming familiar with the new substance and its function.
Below I've listed some of the common side effects seen following the commencement of Panax Ginseng use:
Panax Ginseng is also known to affect blood pressure. While this may be beneficial in some cases, it can negatively affect those with high blood pressure and those taking treatment for it. Ginseng can also lower blood sugar levels and negatively interact with diabetes medication. In my opinion, it's best to consult with your doctor before using Panax in conjunction with any of the mentioned conditions.