What’s Red Ginseng?
Also known as Korean or Chinese ginseng, red ginseng is a red-colored root of a slow-growing perennial plant in the genus Panax. Having an ancient history in the Orient, this herb continues to be one of the most used in the world for its nutritiously-potent properties to heal. In fact, Panax actually means “cure all” and red ginseng is touted as the “root of life.”
Red ginseng’s adaptogenic properties regulate the body by helping it adapt to stress, both physically and mentally. It has broad-spectrum uses due to its driving force of saponins, the phytonutrients found in plants that provide significant health benefits by way of antioxidant protection and anti-inflammatory activities. The structural diversity of these saponins cannot be found in any other plant.
No other herb has been studied more than ginseng. Ancient history and medical science have proven its powerful classes of phytonutrients to support a wide range of bodily functions. Most recently, studies have reported its fascinating support for gut health and immunity.
How Can Red Ginseng Help Gut Health and Immunity?
Your immune system does a remarkable job at keeping you healthy by preventing infections and disease, and your gastrointestinal system plays a central role in immune system homeostasis. In fact, 70 to 80 percent of your immune cells reside in your gut. Therefore, your microbiome is the key to your overall health, and one of the most beneficial herbs for your microbiome and immune system is red ginseng. The benefits come from the root’s biological activities which are derived from its main constituents, ginsenosides.
To learn more about the microbiome, please read Protecting Your Microbiome for Better Gut Health.
Red Ginseng Improves Gut Microbiota
In 2015, the Journal of Ethnopharmacology reported that red ginseng can improve the structure of gut microbiota. Out of seven traditional Chinese herbs, red ginseng was declared the most effective in promoting the growth of probiotics including Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. When both of these genera of probiotics are working in the gut, a powerful synergistic effect happens in the immune system. One study published in the Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics reported Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium doubled the number of peripheral white blood cells after only three weeks of ingestion. In turn, these white blood cells were shown to consume and decimate pathogens.
Red Ginseng Inhibits the Growth of Pathogens
In addition to promoting the growth of probiotics in the gut, red ginseng has also proven to protect the gastrointestinal system when immunosuppressed. A study printed in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine reported that red ginseng inhibits the growth of some pathogen strains, colonic inflammation, and tumor formation that are promoted by western diet. It is speculated that the ginseng metabolite compound K contributes to naturally reducing cell proliferation and increasing apoptosis (cell death of tumors).
Immunomodulatory effects are also among the beneficial properties attributed to red ginseng extract. A recent study in the Journal of Medicinal Food shows the root herb to significantly enhance protection and inhibit lethal infection of influenza virus infection.
How Much Red Ginseng Should I Take?
The duration of administration is three months, but repeated courses are feasible. Red ginseng comes in different forms. Therefore, your personal preference, taste, and practicality may come into play.
Chewing Red Ginseng
While a slice of red ginseng (about ½ to 1 inch) may be chewed, many say that it has a naturally unpleasant taste. In the beginning of chewing a slice, it will be hard but the fibers will soften the longer it is chewed or sucked on. Chewing time is 15 minutes to receive its beneficial properties.
Red Ginseng Decoction
In one cup of water, add one-half teaspoon of powdered root and bring to a boil. Gently simmer for 10 minutes. Allow to cool enough to drink.
Red Ginseng Liquid Herbal Extract
As an herbal dietary supplement, red ginseng extract can be taken two to three times per day. For best absorption and therapeutic effect, take it on an empty stomach (about 15 to 30 minutes prior to or an hour after eating). Always shake the bottle well, and put it in a little warm water before drinking it. The extract or tincture dosage is one to two milliliters three times per day (1:5 in 60%).
Red Ginseng Capsules
Commission E, the leading authority for evaluating herbal medicines, recommends a daily dose of one to two grams.
Is Red Ginseng Safe?
According to Commission E, no side effects or drug interactions have been reported with red ginseng.
Where Can I Buy Red Ginseng?
Red Ginseng can be purchased at your local supplement store. For my clients, I recommend the brand Herb Pharm® as they have high standards when it comes to processing herbal liquid extracts from seed to shelf. Their products are pure, safe, and as potent as possible. Following are a couple of versions that they supply. Just click the link for more information.