American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius), indigenous to the northeastern portions of the United States, is a hot topic right now. Demand for it has skyrocketed so rapidly in recent years that it is being declared an endangered species in some areas. Subjects in a recent study given ginseng reported greater levels of energy, improved sleep quality, a better sex life, and more overall well-being compared to the control group. There is also evidence for immunostimulation, liver protection, athletic enhancement, and improvement in working memory. It also shows promise in diminishing symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Unlike caffeine, which tends to deplete your adrenal glands, ginseng’s effects on energy levels do not diminish with time. By stimulating you while nourishing your adrenal glands adaptogens manage to keep you calm while also promoting a healthy level of energy. This produces an alert but relaxed state of mind, similar to what one experiences after drinking tea. A study on Cereboost, a standardized extract found in MasterMind, was published in Psychopharmacology (Scholey, 2010). The team summarized their findings: “there was a significant improvement of working memory (WM) performance associated with P. quinquefolius. Corsi block performance was improved by all doses at all testing times. There were differential effects of all doses on other WM tasks which were maintained across the testing day. Choice reaction time accuracy and ‘calmness’ were significantly improved by 100 mg. “
Ginseng has a positive effect on blood sugar levels after eating in subjects with type 2 diabetes (Vuksan et. al, 2001). Scholey’s study, however, did not find this to be the case in healthy participants who were fasting. Chinese medicine has long contended that ginseng promotes longevity. There may be something to this belief. For one, it has been shown to reduce overall mortality in middle aged men (Baeg I-H, 2013). Korean ginseng consumption has been linked with reduced rates of aging in the heart, liver, kidneys. Topically applied, it can also help stave off male pattern baldness (ok, there’s only preliminary results in mice so far, but if you’re interested you can check out Murata et. al for more information). Alzheimer’s patients given ginseng showed marked improvements on the ASD and MMSE evaluation test compared to the control group (Lee, 2008).
The amount found in MasterMind, a product created by three time Olympic gold medalist Apolo Ohno, has been shown in clinical trials to increase working memory test scores by 15.6% and enhance working memory speed by 9.9%. In other words, it can be the difference between acing or failing your next interview, exam, or competition. Every second counts.
Baeg I-H, So S-H. The world ginseng market and the ginseng (Korea). Journal of Ginseng Research. 2013;37(1):1-7. doi:10.5142/jgr.2013.37.1.
Lee, Soon-Tae, et al. “Panax ginseng enhances cognitive performance in Alzheimer disease.” Alzheimer Disease & Associated Disorders 22.3 (2008): 222-226.
Murata, Kazuya, et al. “Effects of ginseng rhizome and ginsenoside Ro on testosterone 5α‐reductase and hair re‐growth in testosterone‐treated mice.” Phytotherapy Research26.1 (2012): 48-53.
Scholey, Andrew, et al. “Effects of American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) on neurocognitive function: an acute, randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study.” Psychopharmacology 212.3 (2010): 345-356.
Vuksan, Vladimir, et al. “American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius L.) attenuates postprandial glycemia in a time-dependent but not dose-dependent manner in healthy individuals–.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 73.4 (2001): 753-758.