Ginseng has been used in traditional chinese medicine for thousands of years and has many different health claims including sleep improvement.
However, there’s some controversy of whether or not the weird looking root can actually help you sleep or if it causes sleep problems.
There are studies supporting both sides of the story, and even the benefits of taking ginseng may vary from person to person.
So let’s take a closer look at this unusual natural sleep aid
How Ginseng Works
Ginseng is referred to as an adaptogenic herb. Meaning, it can modulate or adjust your body’s response to stress and anxiety. 1
So, if you’re all wound up and stressed, it can help calm and bring you down. It can also have the opposite effect. If you’re dragging and need a little bump, it can bring you up.
It works by adjusting your nervous control system called the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. This is a control system in the body that interprets stress and tells the body how to handle it with hormones and energy.
Sleep Study Says Ginseng Helps You Sleep
A recent study using red ginseng determined that ginseng can help you get more rest. The idea behind the study was to determine sleep behaviors, or sleep quality.2
In the study, 1500 mg. of red ginseng extract was given three times daily to males 15-37 years old for seven days.
Here’s what happened…
The participants slept longer and they were more effective sleepers.
So according to this recent study, red ginseng extract may help you sleep better and longer.
Benefits That May Lead To Better Sleep
Because ginseng is an adaptogen, it can aid in reducing symptoms that may lead to sleeplessness like anxiety and stress. One study of 500 men and women living in Mexico City found a better quality of life when taking Asian Ginseng.3
Better quality of life was determined by energy, sex life, personal satisfaction, well-being and of course… improved sleep.
Another study found that people who took a nutritional supplement with ginseng said they had better quality of life than those taking the same supplement without ginseng.
Can Ginseng Cause Restlessness Or Insomnia?
Ginseng is a hugely popular supplement here In America, and for a good reason.
Ginseng acts as a stimulant in some people. That’s right, it can benefit both physical and mental stamina.
So, how can the same herb help one person sleep while at the same time being the cause of sleep problems for another?
Question…have you ever read the side effects to a prescription drug?
Well, there are hundreds of side effects for one medication because it affects everyone differently. This is referred to as biochemical individuality.
So, ginseng can cause restlessness in one person while putting another into a deep sleep.
You should note that ginseng does not come without some risks.
Ginseng can affect blood sugar and may cause menstrual changes in women. So if you’re diabetic, proceed with caution.
And, it’s not recommended for women who are or may become pregnant. Also, it’s not suggested for children.
Lastly, you shouldn’t mix ginseng with other medications such as blood thinners or anti depressants or even caffeine because it may amplify ginseng’s stimulant effects.7
How Much Ginseng Is Enough To Boost Your Sleep?
The recent study on sleep used 4,500 mg. daily for one week. This may be at the upper limit for ginseng.
However, if you’re using ginseng to relieve stress and anxiety, 500 mg. one to two times daily should do the trick. As a result, you may also achieve better sleep.
It is suggested that you should cycle off and on ginseng for best results and to avoid dependence and side effects.
Cycle ginseng by using it for 2-3 weeks continuously followed by a 2-3 week hiatus.
Whether you take it as a tea, tablet, powder or extract, the dosage should be kept the same.
The Different Types Of Ginseng
There are so many names for this ancient herb that it can make anyone confused.
It’s been referred to as Ginseng, Red Ginseng, White Ginseng, American Ginseng, Asian or Korean Ginseng, and Panax Ginseng.
The one thing you must know is that Siberian ginseng is something completely different from American or Asian ginseng.
Siberian ginseng does not contain ginsenosides, which is the active ingredient in American and Asian ginseng.
Lastly, American ginseng is also referred to as white, and Asian (Korean) ginseng is referred to as red.
For Best Results Use Red Ginseng
The difference in ginseng can very from country to country and brand to brand.
In fact, concentrations of the standardized extract of ginsenosides, the active ingredient in ginseng, can vary from 4% to 27%. This may be another reason for varied responses in people.
Obviously, the higher concentration the better. BTW, you will pay more for a Korean red ginseng with higher concentrations than an American white ginseng with lower concentrations.
For sleep, look to red ginseng that was used in the study supporting it for sleep.
Here is a popular brand of ginseng with many positive reviews.
Eat well and be well,
Dr. Kevin Dobrzynski