Ginseng is among the most well known herbal supplements. Its source is a group of perennial plants in the Panax genus. It is especially valuable for weight loss, although false rumors regarding weight gain have spread in recent times.
Different Types of Ginseng
There are several popular herbs which people refer to as ‘Ginseng’. Not all of these are actually in the same Genus or Family, however, so they are actually totally different plants. The two main types of Ginseng commonly used in supplements are:
American Ginseng (P. quinquefolius)
American Ginseng originates in North Eastern America, used at one time by Native Americans for medicinal purposes. In Chinese culture, it is commonly called either ‘Fancy Flag’ or ‘West Ocean Ginseng’, in English translation. In eastern medicine, it is associated with Yin energy.
Asian Ginseng (Panax ginseng)
Asian Ginseng, or Yang energy, is native to Manchuria (the region between China and Russia), Korea, and other far east areas. It is similar to American Ginseng in that it contains Ginsenoside – the active ingredient.
Many Ginseng supplements with different names are actually a variant of these two types. Some of the more common ones are:
- White Ginseng
- Red Ginseng
- Wild Ginseng
- Korean Ginseng
Fake Ginseng – Plants which are Not Actually Panax Family Ginseng
P. Ginseng and its family members should not be confused with the following supplements, however. These do not contain ‘Ginsenoside, and are from entirely an different plant genus or family (Eleutherococcus senticosus):
- prince ginseng
- Siberian ginseng
- female ginseng
- Indian ginseng
- Brazilian ginseng
- Peruvian ginseng
- southern ginseng
Ginseng for Weight Loss – How it Helps
The primary function by which Ginseng assists in losing weight is through better regulation of blood glucose levels. It helps us produce more insulin, increases our sensitivity to existing insulin (reduces insulin resistance), and reduces cell death in our pancreas.
This translates into lower blood sugar levels after meals and reduced storage of carbohydrates as fat. Ginseng also appears to be helpful for many other things, including boosting our immune system, type 2 diabetes, heart conditions, ADHD, memory, cancer, and more. Unfortunately, scientific study has not yet thoroughly explored to what extent this valuable herb can help our health.