Ginseng and ginger - two flowering plants known for their medicinal roots. With such similar sounding names, it makes sense why we might confuse these plants! Each has its own set of unique health benefits. We’ll discuss what are the key differences between ginseng and ginger, the health benefits of both, and which you might opt for while considering improvements to your supplement routine and general diet.
Ginseng is a flowering plant with fleshy roots, native to China, Korea, and other parts of Asia. The root portion has been used as a staple ingredient in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years due to its health-promoting properties. It was traditionally considered a valuable herb for its various medicinal uses, so highly esteemed that it was called the “root of life”. Ginseng was used to support a variety of health goals, including digestion, respiratory health, and enhancing working memory.
In the 16th century, ginseng was introduced to Europe where it quickly gained popularity and eventually became a commodity. American ginseng was native to North America and had long been used by Native Americans to support health.
There are many different species of ginseng, with two of the most common varieties, Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng) and American ginseng (Panax quinqefolium), used to promote health and well-being.
Ginseng is available in various forms, including fresh or dried roots, extracts, powders, and teas. It has a slightly bitter and earthy taste, as well as a sweetish aftertaste. Most commonly, it’s used to infuse teas and soups.
Ginseng is prized for several health benefits.
This root is a type of adaptogen, which is a natural substance that helps the body adapt to occasional stress, which has the potential to support your overall immunity.
Ginseng’s adaptogenic properties can help modulate immune activity and support the central nervous system. Studies even show that the phytochemicals in ginseng can offer neuroprotection as well as enhance memory and learning.
In a study of healthy young adults, participants were given doses of ginseng extracts which led to improvements in the speed of their numeric and word recall and a sense of self-rated ‘calmness’.
Many people use ginseng extracts to support focus. Care/of’s Focus Blend supplement is a combo of ginseng, gingko biloba, and vitamin B12 (methylcobalamin) to support healthy cognitive function and boost focus and mental energy.
While ginseng is generally considered safe, it may cause potential side effects in some people, particularly when used in large amounts for extended periods.
Side effects of ginseng may include insomnia, stomach upset, and headaches.
It's important to note that while ginseng can be a healthy and beneficial ingredient, it can also interact with certain medications and may not be safe for everyone. Always consult with a healthcare professional before using it.
Ginger is a flowering plant that is widely cultivated for its root, which is used as a spice and for its medicinal properties. Originally native to Southeast Asia, ginger is now grown in many parts of the world, including India, China, and Jamaica.
The ginger root is used in many forms, including fresh, dried, powdered, or as an oil or juice. It has an unmistakable pungent and spicy flavor, with sweet, citrusy undertones.
You can find ginger in many beverages, such as ginger ale and tea, a large variety of global cuisines, and as a popular ingredient in many herbal remedies and supplements due to its potential health benefits.
Ginger has a wide range of potential benefits.
A notable benefit of ginger is its digestion supporting properties. Ginger can help alleviate temporary gastrointestinal discomfort and can help soothe the digestive tract through its carminative effects, which can feel like a sensation of intestinal warmth and can help manage occasional bloating. Research suggests that ginger may promote digestive health by reducing gastric emptying time, the time it takes for food to move from the stomach into the small intestine.
Ginger also possesses diaphoretic properties, meaning it can support healthy blood flow. Gingerol, one of the main pungent oils in ginger, can inhibit the production of leukotriene and prostaglandin compounds in the body which can constrict blood flow.
Gingerol and the other active compounds in ginger have antioxidant properties that can help manage oxidative stress in the body.
Ginger is generally considered safe when used as a spice or food ingredient and even for topical use on the skin.
It can come with some side effects including abdominal discomfort, diarrhea, heartburn, and irritation of the mouth and throat. This depends on dosage and duration of use.
Discuss with your healthcare professional before using it as a supplement to make sure it is appropriate for you, and since it may interact with certain medications and may not be safe for everyone.
Ginseng and ginger have several similarities, including:
Ginseng and ginger have some key differences, too, which include the following:
If you are interested in taking ginseng or ginger, consider the health benefits that are the best fit for you. Do you want to support calm, focused mental energy? Then perhaps ginseng is the one. Interested in leveling up your gut health? You may want to try ginger.
Ginseng and ginger are generally safe to be taken together, however every individual is different
Generally, ginseng and ginger can both be taken daily, although always talk to your healthcare provider to discuss if this is appropriate for you.
The best time of day to take ginseng or ginger will depend on the reason for taking it. If you want to improve mental energy and focus, for instance, take ginseng in the morning or early afternoon, about 60 minutes before you need to focus. If taking ginger for digestion support, it may be best to take it before meals to help stimulate digestion. Some people may also benefit from taking ginger when experiencing bloating.
Both ginseng and ginger, with their long history of use, have long been linked to a number of impressive health benefits. With similarities as well as differences, and both generally considered safe when used appropriately, these health-promoting roots may be worth integrating into your health routine.