Ingredient Spotlight: Ginseng for Stress and Sleep Management
Used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine, ginseng is a perennial plant with fleshy roots. This short, slow-growing plant features a fork-shaped root and green, oval-shaped leaves.
Scientists and researchers have conducted several clinical studies to analyze the effects of ginseng extract. It is believed to support human health nutritionally and is generally consumed in the form of a dietary supplement. Ginseng-infused energy drinks and teas are also popular in and around China.
Here’s looking at what ginseng is, why it is so popular, what health benefits it offers, and what supplement brand owners should know about the market trends in this space.
What Are the Types of Ginseng?
There are many types of this herb, with the American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) and Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng) being the most popular. American and Asian ginseng has been found to differ in their active compound concentration as well as the kind of effects each of them has on the body. It has been scientifically shown that American ginseng showcases relaxing effects, whereas its Asian counterpart has stimulating effects.[i]
Wild ginseng is found in North America, Brazil, China, Japan, Korea, India, Bhutan, and Siberia.[ii] [iii] [iv] However, the “manufactured” version of ginseng can be grown and treated anywhere in the world. It typically takes four to ten years to become a fully matured plant. Apart from the natural differences found in the plant, based on its area, you can also observe a variance in color sometimes. You are likely to find two main types of ginseng – red and white.
The white one is naturally dried in the sun, while the red one is steam-heated (at 100 to 110 degrees) for a couple of hours. Artificially grown and treated ginseng is devoid of any pathogens on the roots but can degrade some of the active compounds on the external layers of the plant’s bark.[v]
Health Benefits of Ginseng
Across various traditional systems of healthcare (including Chinese and Indian), ginseng has been used as an aphrodisiac and stimulant for a long time.
Let’s take a look at some of the top benefits of ginseng-based supplements and their potential as a rejuvenator:
Ginseng for Stress and Stress-Induced Anxiety
Ginseng may help reduce oxidative damage, physical and mental fatigue. The adaptogenic herb has been widely discussed as one that stimulates higher energy production in cells – things that could help fight stress and fatigue. The presence of components like polysaccharides and oligopeptides is believed to be responsible for this.
Ginseng-based supplements may help regulate the immune response and hormonal changes caused due to stress, helping maintain homeostasis, thanks to the presence of its natural compounds known as ginsenosides.
Recent studies suggest that ginseng can help deal with stress-induced anxiety and occasional moodiness. Research clearly suggests that ginseng supplements have particularly good anti-stress benefits.
Ginseng for Sleep
Ginseng has been closely linked to REM sleep, the time taken to fall asleep, sleep quality, and morning alertness. Kevin Spelman (Ph.D.), a Maryland University of Integrative Health faculty member, says, “Red ginseng affects the stress axis, thus normalizing the body’s stress response. If the nervous system’s response to stressors is excessive, it brings it down (and vice versa).”
The adaptogen, while being a stimulator, can also display therapeutic properties that enable better sleep. According to a recent study (published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology), the consumption of red ginseng helped the subjects to log more sleep and spend less time awake in bed.[vi] Ginseng may also aid decrease in sleep latency among elderly individuals.[vii]
What Form Does Ginseng Come In?
Ginseng is most typically found in capsule or tablet form. It is also available as powders and liquids (e.g. tinctures), but these have the disadvantage of sharing ginseng root’s natural bitter taste.
Current Market Size and Trends for Ginseng Supplements
According to the Ginseng Supplements Market 2021-2027 study, the global ginseng extract market is growing at over 7.5% CAGR and will continue on this trajectory till 2026. In terms of ginseng-based supplements, the market size is predicted to reach a whopping USD 5.6 million by 2027 (up from USD 3.4 million last year) at the same CAGR.[viii]
The demand for ginseng can be attributed to:
- The rapidly evolving supplements industry
- Increased consumption of dietary supplements
- The consumers’ preference for natural supplements
- The ability of ginseng to help deal with health issues like stress and fatigue
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