Ginseng is a generic and broad term for botanicals from the genus Panax. Popular varieties are known as Chinese, Korean, American, and Japanese ginseng. Often preparations are made from ginseng roots that have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for millennia as a tonic to improve stamina and vitality. Unlike common ginseng, Siberian or Russian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus), has also been used in traditional Chinese medicine to eliminate fatigue and strengthen the immune system.

Several small studies have been completed looking at Panax ginseng’s potential to improve the physical performance of athletes, regular and occasional exercisers, and largely sedentary individuals. Results of the effectiveness of Panax ginseng is variable but may show some benefit in peak power output, time to exhaustion, perceived exertion, recovery from intense activity, oxygen consumption, or heart rate.

A randomized controlled trial using a crossover design with nine male college tennis players found that 800 mg/day Siberian ginseng (prepared from the root and rhizome) for 8 weeks significantly improved endurance in a cycling trial, elevated VO2max and heart rate, and increased fat oxidation.


A Short-term Panax ginseng use appears to be safe. The most commonly reported adverse effects include headache, sleep disturbances, and gastrointestinal disorders. Siberian ginseng also appears to be safe.


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