Panax Ginseng (SSRI) has been successfully used in the treatment of clinical depression and is the common name for the class of antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). The name is derived from the Greek word meaning “with panax” or “with light”. Panax Ginseng contains a number of key substances known to affect the brain serotonin system. The most important substances involved are collectively referred to as ginsenosides, or panaxoside.
Panax Ginseng has shown benefits in various disorders of human physical and mental health including anxiety and aggression. In the world of medical acupuncture, panaxoside is believed to help relieve the effects of chronic pain. For example, in traditional Chinese medicine, pain can be relieved by adding panaxoside to the patient’s water. It can also be taken as a tea or applied directly to the skin.
Panax Ginseng was probably first used in China about 5000 years ago. Today it is widely cultivated worldwide and used in traditional medicine and therapy for a variety of disorders. Modern research has shown that panaxosides has a wide range of health benefits. These include treating depression, stress, anxiety, fibromyalgia, asthma, COPD, migraine, menopause and dementia. Many of these studies have been done on mice and birds, which are very similar to humans.
The role of panax ginsenoside is not well understood. One theory is that panax ginsenoside enhances serotonin reuptake in brain cells and improves mood and memory. Panax Ginseng appears to affect brain chemistry similar to the way some antidepressants work on the brain. Some research has suggested that panax ginsenoside may reduce cardiovascular disease risk by reducing levels of “bad” cholesterol. Another study suggested that panax ginsenoside could lower blood pressure and reduce symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. One study reported that panax ginsenoside increased levels of “good” cholesterol, which could reduce the risk of heart disease, while another suggests that it could prevent clots from forming in arteries and improves the flow of blood to the brain.
Other benefits of panax ginsenoside are not as clear. Scientists are studying its effect on the liver and its effects on blood sugar levels. It is also being studied to see if it has any effect on high blood pressure. Limited research has been done on panax ginsenoside and human fertility. However, preliminary evidence suggests that panax ginsenoside is beneficial for menopausal women who are having trouble getting pregnant or women who experience estrogen dominance, a condition that occurs when a woman’s testosterone levels become higher than normal after menopause.
What’s more is that panax ginseng – whether it be the supplement panax ginseng – is not recommended to people with active bleeding, unless the product is approved by FDA, since some studies have shown that it may be unsafe. Also, since menopause can cause some significant hormonal changes, including fluctuations in progesterone and estrogen, it is not recommended to use panax ginseng during this time. However, if you are taking other types of medications, discuss them with your doctor before you begin taking panax ginseng, especially if you have allergies or a history of blood disorders. And even though it has not been proven clinically, some people may find that taking panax ginseng – either with or without other medications – causes some drug interactions; talk to your doctor about this if you think you may need to switch medications. Last but not least, talk to your pharmacist before you buy panax ginseng – some products may contain small amounts of gluten (a protein found in wheat and rye) that may interact with the herb. Or else, you could have a reaction to the herb itself.