Vitamin Expert

Korean Ginseng

Botanical family: Araliaceae
Parts used: Root
Main active constituents: Ginsenosides, flavonoids, glycans (panaxans), maltol, peptides
Actions: Energiser, stress-buster, antioxidant
Good for: Improving vitality, blood circulation, stress, erectile dysfunction
Available forms: Tablet, tea, powder, liquid extract

Korean ginseng is also known as Panax, Chinese or Red ginseng. Most of the world’s supply of Korean ginseng is now cultivated in Korea and China although it originally grew wild all across Asia. Korean ginseng tends to grow on moist shaded mountainsides and has distinguishable dark green leaves and red clusters of berries. It is the root of the plant that provides its prized medicinal properties.

History of Korean Ginseng

Korean ginseng is one of the most widely used herbs across the world, and has been used for thousands of years throughout the Orient as a tonic to promote vitality, longevity and sex drive. The word ‘panax’ actually means ‘cure-all’ in Greek because it has long been hailed as one of the great healing and strengthening herbs. Siberian ginseng is a Russian relative of Korean ginseng although the Siberian variety is not a member of the Panax family and therefore not a ‘true’ ginseng.

Korean ginseng is known as an adaptogenic herb which means that it helps the body adapt to stress or situations as it’s needed, depending on the individual. Therefore it may help to calm a stressed person or stimulate someone who is tired.

Current uses of Korean Ginseng

Energy and vitality

Korean ginseng’s most popular use is as an energiser, working like a tonic within the body. It’s particularly effective after illness as well as helping the body to adapt to stress. It also increases stamina and performance, hence why Korean ginseng is favoured by athletes to provide support during vigorous training regimes.


Korean ginseng seems to improve circulation and potentially lower blood pressure. Its positive effect on blood supply may also help with erectile dysfunction. However, this may be down to ginseng’s ability to improve vitality generally, which can, indirectly, help boost testosterone levels.

Balancing blood sugar

Ginseng appears to facilitate the release of insulin from the pancreas and also increases the number of insulin receptors, thereby helping to better manage blood sugar levels.

How to take Korean Ginseng

A typical daily dosage is around 1 gram
Korean ginseng can be taken with other supplements and there is no evidence of contraindications at the recommended dosage
Benefits can be felt in a relatively short time


There are various types of ginseng that have different medicinal properties, so care needs to be taken when selecting
It is not recommended for people with high blood pressure, or diagnosed stress-related conditions
It is not suitable to take during pregnancy and breastfeeding
Korean ginseng should not be taken with hormonal medication