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Ginseng: Is it Healthy or Harmful for Women?

Updated on January 5, 2018
Ginseng Roots Harvested
Ginseng Roots Harvested | Source

Ginseng: Healthy or Harmful for Women?

Should women use ginseng? Is ginseng, especially Chinese and Korean ginsengs that are called “yang” tonics, harmful to women, since female energy is “yin”? Should women limit themselves to herbs traditionally given to women, such as red raspberry and dong quai (angelica in the West)? What, if any, value can ginseng have for women? Is there potential harm to women in taking this herb?

One Woman's Experience Taking Ginseng

Although not a scientist or medical doctor, perhaps I can add some clarity to this issue based on my experience. I am a woman who has taken ginseng regularly for over thirty years. Occasionally, I have gone a few months or even years without taking it during that time. I first started using ginseng at around age twenty. I roomed in an establishment with various friends at the time, and one young male friend suggested I chew sliced ginseng root that he gave me as a gift. I tried it, finding the taste unique but not abhorrent. I noticed it gave me energy, but not like the boost from caffeine; ginseng-based energy seemed more organic, like that from a good meal or good night’s sleep.

I next used ginseng a few years later when serving as a missionary, working fourteen-hour days, often outside fundraising and witnessing in bitter cold Midwestern and Northern winters. I attribute my relative good health and strength during those years at least partially to drinking Korean ginseng tea made from paste extract on a regular basis. I was able to do that work, rarely getting sick (and bouncing back quickly whenever I did get a cold) for all those years not only based on faith, but because I could endure the physical conditions. I believe regular ginseng use helped me do that.

Stepping back from active church work in 1987, I worked full-time in retail to support myself, then returned to college and earned multiple degrees, including a minor in Dance at age forty-seven. in 2012, at age 58, I completed a 200-hour Hatha yoga teacher certification, while still working multiple jobs, and I currently teach yoga in my community. I believe that my stamina and good health making that lifestyle possible has been due at least partly to regular consumption of ginseng, usually Korean ginseng. Whenever I have stopped taking it, I notice a decrease in vitality, less appetite, and weakened digestion. Taking ginseng once more, those symptoms ceased. Additionally, menopause for me was relatively easy, with no hot flashes or extreme mood swings. I attribute that in large part to regular exercise, but perhaps the ginseng helped, too!

Ginseng Used For - Top Five Benefits

Basic Information about Ginseng

Ginseng grows in mountainous areas in the Northern Hemisphere, specifically North America, Korea, China, and Siberia. Accordingly, there are several types of ginseng (American, Korean, Chinese, and Siberian ginseng). Each has unique properties, with Korean ginseng being the strongest medicinally, with the most varied application in healing. Korean ginseng is also considered strongly “yang,” or male in energy, a heating, active tonic, as is Chinese, in contrast to American and Siberian ginseng, which are considered to have more cooling, though still tonic, effects.

Herbalists and natural healers widely recommend ginseng for varied health conditions, including (among other conditions): stimulating the appetite, boosting the immune system (thus helping to prevent colds and helping to fight immune system diseases like cancer and AIDS), and anti-aging (http://www.ginseng.co.za/index.jsp?page=benefits). Ginseng stimulates male and female hormones, thus can be useful as a sexual tonic and during menopause.

Ginseng is not recommended for those with high blood pressure or cardiovascular disease, for pregnant or nursing women, or for children (http://www.worldhealth.net/news/ginseng/). One should always consult one’s doctor or other medical professional before using any herb or other medicine.

Ginseng Can Benefit Women

Some medical professionals, including some traditional herbalists, might argue that as a “yang” tonic, ginseng is too strong for women and that women should instead use herbs that strengthen and tone the female reproductive system, like red raspberry or dong quai. However, ginseng offers important medicinal benefits (described above) completely different from those two "women's" herbs. There is every indication that an adult female who does not have conditions that contraindicate taking ginseng may confidently use ginseng as an energizer, healing tonic, and adaptogen (substance that helps the body adapt to stress).

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Ginseng: Healthy or Harmful for Women?

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    • healingsword profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Wehrman 

      2 years ago from California

      Hi Sharon, Yes, ginseng may be taken by people of any gender. I would check with your doctor to make sure it's safe for you. I drink it straight, dissolved in hot water, but some people add honey. The herb tastes kind of unique, but you might find you like the taste!

    • profile image

      Sharon 

      2 years ago

      My son came back from Korea and given me a box of " Korean Red Ginsing Extract Powder Tea" ...3 gx100 (300).

      I hear its good for so many health reasons.

      Do you drink this straight or add honey??

      Can women take this as well as men?

      Is there any side affects I need to know about?

    • healingsword profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Wehrman 

      3 years ago from California

      Hi Perspycacious, Thanks very much for reading my Hub and for your kind comments. Wonderful that you own a health business; I have often worked in health food stores, and find herbs, natural foods, and natural healing fascinating. Happy New Year!

    • Perspycacious profile image

      Demas W Jasper 

      3 years ago from Today's America and The World Beyond

      Take it from a health store owner, good summary and I like the personal experience aspect.

    • healingsword profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Wehrman 

      3 years ago from California

      Hi AMK,

      Thanks so much for your comment and for reading my Hub!

      In my understanding, it is less about the way one takes ginseng (capsules, tea, boil a root, paste) than about the quality of the root itself, whether it is wild or cultivated, how old it was when harvested, and how it was prepared after harvesting. I have read it is best to stick to capsules that have standardized ginsenoside levels, since otherwise, many brands of commercial capsules are said to have little potency. One can buy a paste in Asian herb shops or online, and also boil slices from the actual roots, too, for a strong medicine. One can make tea from any of the above, too.

    • profile image

      AMK 

      3 years ago

      A good review about GINSENG for women i would like to ask that ginseng soft capsules that are available nowadays everywhere in market do have the same effect as GINSENG TEA or they differ ??

    • healingsword profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Wehrman 

      5 years ago from California

      Hi Mel, Thanks for reading my Hub and for your comment!

    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 

      5 years ago from San Diego California

      Good words on ginseng. It seems like a beneficial substance to me as well.

    • healingsword profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Wehrman 

      5 years ago from California

      Hi srivatsava P. Thanks for reading my Hub and commenting. I had not heard of Revital, but checked it out online after reading your message. It looks like a great daily vitamin tonic, and yes, contains panax ginseng. I am sure it does make you feel great. Thank you for sharing, and have a great day!

    • profile image

      srivatsava P. 

      5 years ago

      I used Revital since four years i become very strong and energetic and enjoy my life style. so i recommended this medacine .

    • healingsword profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Wehrman 

      5 years ago from California

      Hi lisauniquevoice, You're welcome! Glad to hear you enjoy ginseng, too. I have to admit I love coffee, as well, though :-).

      Ginseng is really medicine for me, acting as an immune tonic, digestive aid, heart tonic, and more. Thanks for stopping by!

    • lisasuniquevoice profile image

      Lisa Brown 

      5 years ago from Michigan

      healingsword,

      Thank you for all of the information on ginseng. I have just started taking it again and it's much better for energy than coffee.

    • healingsword profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Wehrman 

      5 years ago from California

      Hi KoraleeP, Thanks for reading and commenting on my Hub! I actually do still take ginseng regularly, though there have been periods when I stopped for some time over the last decades. I do not think I'm addicted to it, though. I don't experience withdrawal symptoms when I stop taking it. However, I keep taking it since it helps my strength, stamina, and overall health. It's said to help the immune system and heart, as well. It doesn't have caffeine in it, unlike coffee (and hot chocolate), nor does it contain sugar (unlike hot chocolate). Try some; I think you'll like it!

    • KoraleeP profile image

      Koralee Phillips 

      5 years ago from Penticton British Columbia Canada

      Thank you for your detailed information about Ginsing. I quit drinking coffee a couple of months ago and drink a couple of hot chocolate drinks a day. Recently I found some Ginsing tea that I bought about one year ago, but I wasn't sure about whether or not it is addictive. Since you have not taken it for a couple of years I take it that it's not addictive. Thank you for clearing that up :)

    • healingsword profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Wehrman 

      5 years ago from California

      Hi Rebecca, Thanks for reading my Hub and commenting! I also use green tea and B-complex vitamins. I make a pitcher of unsweetened iced green tea to drink throughout the day, though sometimes it can be too much stimulus for me unless I get out from behind the computer and do some real exercise. I'm working to substitute green tea for much of my coffee intake. It's nice that it has other health benefits besides being energizing, as does ginseng.

    • Rebecca Furtado profile image

      Rebecca Furtado 

      5 years ago from Anderson, Indiana

      Nice hub I use ginsing, green tea extract, and b complex vitamins for an energy boost.

    • healingsword profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Wehrman 

      5 years ago from California

      Enjoy, Dr. Cil, and Happy Holidays!

    • profile image

      Dr Cil 

      5 years ago

      Thanks, I will try that!

    • healingsword profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Wehrman 

      5 years ago from California

      Hi Dr. Cil,

      Thanks for stopping by and reading my Hub! A cup of hot ginseng tea with honey after a long cold day is calming and energizing both; iced ginseng tea is great in summer. Try mixing iced ginseng with natural fruit juices ~ yum!

    • profile image

      Dr Cil 

      5 years ago

      Great hub! Thank you for all the information. When I first tried ginseng, I was amazed at how it made me feel. It certainly increases energy!

    • healingsword profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Wehrman 

      6 years ago from California

      Hi Om, Thank you for reading and commenting! I agree, I love the taste and aroma of ginseng; my body seems to recognize it as beneficial even before I drink it :-). Hope it does help with memory and mental performance, as I age. Certainly de-stressing, which it helps with, supports memory and mental performance.

    • Om Paramapoonya profile image

      Om Paramapoonya 

      6 years ago

      Nice hub! Many studies have proven that ginseng can also improve memory and mental performance. I've been drinking ginseng tea for years and never experienced any bad side effects from it. Also, I like its mild earthy aroma a lot.

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