What is Panax ginseng?
Panax is a Greek word meaning ‘all-heal’, which refers to the healing properties of this herb as evident from its use in the treatment of various diseases and health conditions. This plant grows in far eastern Siberia, northeastern China and Korea. The root of the plant is extensively used for medicinal purposes as compared to any other part of the plant. There are other species of ginseng such as Siberian ginseng, American ginseng or Panax pseudoginseng. Just make sure you don’t confuse Panax ginseng with any of these other varieties.
Benefits of Panax ginseng as a Testosterone Booster
Panax ginseng is used as a testosterone booster because it is known to increase testosterone levels, which can have the following benefits for bodybuilding:
- Improves physical stamina
- Prevents damage to muscles from vigorous exercise
- Increases athletic endurance
- Increases muscle mass and strength
- Enhances exercise performance
- Promotes building of lean muscle
How Does It Work?
The male hormone, testosterone, is synthesized under the stimulation of luteinizing hormone (LH). Increase in testosterone levels increases libido and can have the above mentioned benefits for body builders. Ginsenoside is the active compound found in Panax ginseng, which is responsible for increasing the serum testosterone levels in men.
Some other uses of Panax ginseng are as follows:
- Used in the manufacturing of cosmetics and soaps
- Used to combat stress
- Used as a flavoring agent in beverages
- Can be used as a treatment for premature ejaculation, increasing libido in women, infertility problems in men and hot flashes due to menopause
- Can be used to slow down aging and treat wrinkled skin
- Used for anxiety and depression issues
- Used as a treatment for chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), general fatigue and cystic fibrosis (lung disease)
- Can improve efficiency at work
- Can enhance sexual behavior and treat sexual dysfunction
In an animal study (source) conducted on rats, it was found that feeding rats with 5% Panax ginseng in their diet for 60 days, led to significant increase in testosterone levels. But the same effect was not observed with the dose of 1% Panax ginseng.
A clinical trial (source) was performed that involved 66 participants, who received an extract of Asian ginseng. It was found that Asian ginseng could significantly increase LH, follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and free as well as total testosterone.
Insomnia is a common side effect of Panax ginseng. But the following side effects may also be experienced by some people:
- Low blood pressure
- High blood pressure
- Nose bleed
- Increased heart rate
- Menstrual problems
- Vaginal bleeding
- Mood swings
- Loss of appetite
- Breast pain
There are few conditions which are quite uncommon with ginseng, but are reported nonetheless. They include:
- Severe allergies
- Damage to liver
- Stevenson Johnson Syndrome – a kind of severe rash
A word of caution
It is unsafe for infants and children. Due to lack of research, expecting and lactating mothers are advised to avoid the use of Panax ginseng. Additionally, the following people need to exercise proper caution if they want to use ginseng:
- It can increase the response of immune system, interfering and possibly worsening auto-immune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, etc
- Panax ginseng may interfere with blood clotting so people with bleeding conditions should avoid its use
- The herb might lower blood sugar excessively in people with diabetes. So it is advised to monitor your blood sugar if you are diabetic and taking Panax ginseng
- Avoid use of this herb if you are having an organ transplant because it can increase the activity of the immune system
- Due to its estrogen like effects, people who are suffering from conditions that might worsen with increase in estrogen should avoid its use. These include ovarian cancer, uterine cancer, breast cancer, uterine fibroids or endometriosis
Panax ginseng, often referred to as ‘the King of all herbs’ possesses healing properties and has been in Chinese medicine for ages. It is used for the treatment of many sexual, skin, emotional, mental, chronic and respiratory diseases. It possesses a compound which can increase testosterone levels, so this herb has also found its way among the supplements for bodybuilders. The increase in testosterone levels lends many benefits for bodybuilding such as increased muscle mass and enhanced exercise performance. However, proper caution should be exercised before starting on Panax ginseng because it can cause many side effects as well as worsen already existing health problems. Make sure to consult your doctor before you start on this herb so that you can avoid any unnecessary health complications.