Ginseng has many functions and benefits to our body and mind. However, we’ll be focusing only on its benefit in stimulating immune function, and, improving memory and symptoms of attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children when used with Ginkgo biloba.
Panax, such as Panax ginseng and Panax quinquefoliusare, is an adaptogenic herb. It is characterized by the presence of ginsenosides. There are many other plants also known as ginseng, such as American Ginseng (Panax quinquefolius), Japanese ginseng (Panax japonicus), crown prince ginseng (Pseudostellaria heterophylla), and Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus). However, only American Ginseng and Panax ginseng contains ginsenosides. Although they are all called ginseng, each has its own very distinctive functions. True ginseng belongs to the Panax genus.
Ginsenosides, the active ingredient, in panax ginseng is most abundant in the leaves. However, the root of the ginseng plant is the most valued form. Ginseng is noted for being an adaptogen, one which can, to a certain extent, be supported with reference to its anticarcinogenic and antioxidant properties.
In traditional Chinese medicine, American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius), which also contains ginsenoside, is considered to have a cooling property while Panax ginseng is warming. Japanese ginseng, though the same species as ginseng, is thought to have cooling properties.
HOW IT WORKS?
Individuals with ADHD is often chemically characterized by deficits in this pathway, which typically include reduced dopamine levels in the regions between neuronal cells throughout various key regions of the brain that are responsible for attention span, screening out irrelevant stimuli, and impulse control. As a result, children with ADHD frequent have inadequate dopamine in key regions of the brain, and norepinephrine as well.
Imbalances between dopamine and norepinephrine children with ADHD result in disruptions of physiological processes such as attention span, complex cognitive processes, auditory processing delays, and motor behavioral dysfunctions.
It is believed that ginsenoside may help alleviate some ADHD-related symptoms by boosting levels of dopamine and norepinephrine in these key brain regions, several of which are affiliated with ADHD. Herbal extracts of ginseng is shown to target the brain’s dopamine pathway and exhibit neuro-protective benefits for these pathways.
Interestingly, many stimulants used to treat ADHD also work by boosting levels of dopamine and norepinephrine.
Panax ginseng (Chinese/Korean Ginseng), abundant in ginsenosides Rg1, is shown to improve spatial learning and increase hippocampal synaptophysin level in mice. It is also shown that ginsenosides Rg1, extracted from Panax ginseng is able to mitigate the effects of the oxidative stress in the liver of exhaustive exercised rats.
Dried and peeled American ginseng is available in powder, capsule, extract, candies, or tea forms. These can easily be found in most Asian food stores. American ginseng maybe used in conjunction with gingko biloba.
For children, I would suggest not giving ginseng is a concentrated form, and give only half of the suggested serving on the container.
You may try making lemonade with honey and ginseng tea. The lemon and honey will mask the taste and smell of ginseng. Ginseng does have a very strong peculiar fragrant, especially when cooked or brewed.
You may use ginseng tea powder or granules, or brewed your own with sliced ginseng root (raw or dried).
Also, ginseng is not recommended for long-term daily use. Take ginseng in cycles of 15-20 days, with 2 weeks break between cycles. When I was little, my mom would make chicken and ginseng broth for us – only once in a while.
Ginseng may increase the effects of caffeine, antipsychotics, blood pressure drugs or steroidal medications. Please consult your physician before taking ginseng.