With roots in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), ginseng tea has been used by health professionals in the Far East for thousands of years to promote vitality and improve well-being. And for good reason, say modern scientists who recently pinpointed the amazing benefits of ginseng tea.
The Asian ginseng plant was discovered more than 5,000 years ago in the mountains of Manchuria, China. The healing properties of plants were so powerful that only royalty and other nobles were allowed to use them. In fact, stories of ginseng’s powerful benefits have spread far and wide, earning it the nickname of the King of Herbs. But “Queen of Herbs” might make more sense, as its natural compounds are especially beneficial for women.
Here’s a closer look at these benefits through the lens of modern science, so you can determine if ginseng tea is right for you:
What is Ginseng Tea?
Ginseng tea is a herbal supplement made from ginseng root. You can boil the root itself or buy ginseng tea bags at the supermarket.
Two plants are used to make ginseng tea:
Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng) and American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius, L). Both have similar benefits but different chemical compositions.
You may hear ginseng referred to in terms of color: Both white ginseng and red ginseng come from the Asian ginseng plant, but are prepared differently. White ginseng is dried in the sun, while red ginseng is steamed and then dried to less than 15% moisture content.
Asian ginseng is considered more stimulating and energizing, while American ginseng is considered more refreshing and calming, says Mary Sabat, MS, RDN, LD, a registered dietitian nutritionist and ACE certified trainer.
Scientists aren’t sure where ginseng’s healing power comes from, but ginsenosides play a role. These compounds, produced by the ginseng plant, boast anti-allergic, anti-diabetic and anti-inflammatory properties.
What benefits can ginseng tea provide?
No matter which variety of ginseng tea you choose, drinking it offers a variety of potential benefits. Many people use it as an adaptogen, a substance that helps the body cope with stress and promotes overall well-being, says Sabat. From its ability to boost energy and promote healthy immunity and aging, it’s no wonder ginseng is often called green gold!
Here are the 6 benefits of ginseng tea.
1) Weight loss
Several studies have cited a link between ginseng tea and weight loss. One, published in Journal of Exercise and Rehabilitation, found that ginsenosides enhance the effects of cholecystokinin (CKK), a hormone that aids digestion. Scientists found that in animal models, ginsenosides made test subjects feel fuller, longer. Try drinking a cup of ginseng tea whenever you feel like it between meals to reap the slimming benefits.
2) Improved energy
Women are almost twice as likely to suffer from fatigue as men, so including ginseng tea in your diet makes sense. Consider that a review of 10 different studies found that ginseng significantly improved the effects of chronic fatigue syndrome compared to a placebo.
Bonus: Not only does ginseng tea have the potential to help you feel more alert, but it does so with the risk of caffeine-induced jitters.
3) Healthier, younger looking skin
Ginseng is a popular ingredient in many skin care products and has been used for centuries in parts of Asia as a beauty aid. For example, Hwang Jini, a Korean poet and dancer who lived in the 1500s, is said to have drank ginseng tea to maintain a beautiful complexion.
Ginseng tea may benefit skin health in several ways, says Bill Bradley, RD, registered dietitian and co-author of Foods of Crete: Traditional recipes from the healthiest people in the world (Buy from Amazon, $20.00). Its antioxidant properties help protect the skin from damage. Some research also suggests that ginseng may promote skin hydration, reduce wrinkles and improve collagen production, which can help maintain skin elasticity.
4) Stronger and thicker hair
As many as 50% of women experience hair loss at some point in their lives, and that number increases to 80% as we age. Losing your hair can negatively affect your confidence and self-esteem, but a natural remedy like ginseng tea can provide relief.
One study found that ginseng has compounds that help regulate the proteins responsible for hair growth. Another found that ginseng increased the number of dermal cells on the scalp, helping to strengthen hair follicles and hair roots. To reap the benefits, try massaging ginseng tea (once cooled) into your hair or purchase a ginseng-based shampoo.
5) Improved blood sugar
Diabetes affects people of all ages and genders, but complications are often more serious for women. If you’re struggling to keep your blood sugar in check, ginseng tea might help.
Certain compounds in ginseng have been found to have antidiabetic effects by increasing insulin secretion, improving glucose metabolism and reducing insulin resistance, says Sabat.
Try drinking ginseng tea as a complement to your diabetes medications. Your doctor can warn you about potential side effects and drug interactions.
6) Increased immunity
Autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and Graves’ disease, affect many more women than men, and a healthy immune system can help reduce your risk of developing them. Again, let’s move on to ginseng tea.
The ginseng plant has powerful antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties. Animal studies confirm these benefits. One, in particular, found that rodents that ate red ginseng experienced an increase in immune cells and liver antioxidants. The sample size was small, but the scientists think these immune-boosting benefits could translate to humans.
Is there anyone who shouldn’t drink ginseng tea?
Ginseng tea is safe and generally well tolerated, but causes side effects in some people.
Pregnant and breastfeeding women should use ginseng with caution, as not enough is known about its effects in these conditions, says Bradley. It’s also important to consider that ginseng can interact with other medications and medical conditions, such as high blood pressure (hypertension) and hormone-related issues.
Talk to your doctor or other qualified healthcare professional before you start enjoying ginseng tea regularly or supplement. They can provide guidance based on your personal medical history and current medications, Bradley says.
How do I make ginseng tea at home?
To make ginseng tea at home, you need the following ingredients:
1 whole dried ginseng root or 1-2 tsp. of ginseng powder
1 cup of water
Honey or other sweetener to taste (optional)
Step 1: If you’re using ginseng root, thinly slice it into 5-8 pieces.
Step 2: Pour the cup of water into a saucepan or teapot and bring it to a boil.
Step 3: Add ginseng root slices or ginseng powder to boiling water.
Step 4: Reduce the heat, cover the pan and simmer for 15-20 minutes.
Step 5: Strain the tea into a cup, add sweetener (if desired), and enjoy!
What is the recommended dose of ginseng tea?
The recommended dosage of ginseng tea varies depending on the type of ginseng you’re using (dried ginseng root or ginseng powder) and the health condition you’re trying to treat.
Most people start with 1-2 grams of ginseng root or 200-400 mg of ginseng root powder. This is because the concentration of the active compounds (or ginsenosides) varies according to the form.
Regardless, Bradley recommends starting with a small dose and gradually increasing the amount. The taste of ginseng is quite strong and unique, which some people find off-putting. If you’re new to ginseng, start with a less concentrated tea (use less ginseng or more water) and gradually adjust the flavor to your liking.
This content is not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always consult your doctor before pursuing any treatment plan.
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