Red Ginseng vs White Ginseng: What’s the Difference?

red ginseng vs white ginseng

Posted on April 29th, 2021

Ginseng is a traditional Chinese medicine that has been a popular herbal supplement for centuries. Ginseng is among the most sought-after herbal medicines and is thought to enhance and restore wellbeing. The herb is made up of a relatively long stalk and green oval-shaped leaves. Products of this slow-growing, short herb are of three main types, depending on the duration it is grown: red, white, or fresh. This article will mostly discuss red ginseng vs white ginseng.

If you reap ginseng before 4 years, you call it fresh. Red ginseng should reach more than 6 years, and white ginseng between 4-6 years. There are various species of this plant, but the most renowned are Asian ginseng and American ginseng. Asian and American ginseng have different concentrations when it comes to its active compounds and impact on the body. Some say that Asian ginseng has a stimulating effect while American ginseng acts as a relaxing agent. Both Asian ginseng and American ginseng may reduce stress, boost energy, treat diabetes symptoms, lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels, promote relaxation, and manage sexual dysfunction in males.

Ginseng consists of two main compounds: gintonin and ginsenosides. They complement each other to produce ginseng’s benefits. Ginsenosides are the key constituents of ginseng that contribute to its health benefits. Researchers know of 100+ ginsenosides, and their concentrations differ from root to root depending on factors like soil conditions, altitude, climate, and age of the root.

Red Ginseng vs White Ginseng

To start with, neither white nor red ginseng is necessarily better than the other. The only real distinction between the two is how they are harvested and made. 

Red ginseng comes from an old Korean method of steaming and drying. This process is done continuously until the ginseng becomes reddish. In ancient times, this was the only way of preserving the plant but it also increased the concentration of certain ginsenosides. In traditional customs, red ginseng is seen as a ‘warming’ herb while white ginseng is considered a ‘cooling’ herb.

The ginseng quality is contingent on the quality of its root, which takes some time to create the active compounds – the ginsenosides.

Red and white ginseng don’t come from different plants as most people assume. In fact, they come from the same plant variety, Panax Ginseng C.A. Meyer.

Man holding Red Ginseng CapsulesRed Ginseng

Legal regulations mandate that only ginseng roots that are at least six years old can be made into red ginseng. However, legal restrictions have recently been lifted and younger, less developed roots are now being used.

To become ‘red ginseng’ the roots will have to undergo extra treatment referred to as the Maillard method:

After the initial white roots are reaped, arranged according to size, and cleaned, they are subjected to hot air flow at around 120 to 130 ° C. Because of this, the roots change to reddish and their surfaces get hard and glassy. This heat treatment destroys certain enzymes. After this stage in the processing cycle, the now “red” ginseng undergoes the drying process.

Red ginseng is basically white ginseng that has been processed which is the reason behind the price increase. 

White Ginseng

Conversely, ‘white ginseng’ is dried right after harvesting and then made available in powdered form or as a dry root.

For Asian imported products, white ginseng processing often begins in the 3rd or 4th year of development, which will consequently have an effect on the effectiveness and quality of the product. What’s more, in most of these countries, they peel the outer layer of white ginseng, to make it appear aesthetically pleasing.

Benefits: Red Ginseng vs White Ginseng

People have used ginseng for thousands of years to treat a range of medical conditions.

More studies are required to ascertain its advantages as a supplement. However, scientists believe that ginsenosides are responsible for the health benefits of the herb.

Health professionals and western scientists often question the medical properties of ginseng. As of yet, there is inconclusive evidence proving the effectiveness of ginseng. Ginseng products vary in terms of their medicinal properties and quality. You should always check the ingredients before you buy any product. Here are some health benefits that people associate with ginseng:

Boost Energy Levels

Ginseng may assist in stimulating mental and physical activity in individuals who feel tired and weak. One research study showed that ginseng proved to be effective when it came to assisting cancer patients experiencing fatigue

You should note that the increased energy effects linked to ginseng were effective in individuals undergoing treatment. There were no significant energy improvements exhibited in persons who had completed cancer treatment.

Sharper Cognitive Function

Ginseng may help in improving cognition and the thinking process. Some animal and test-tube studies show that ginseng components such as compound K and ginsenosides could assist in protecting the brain against damage. One research study had 30 individuals consume 200 mg of Panax ginseng every day for 4 weeks. By the time the study was coming to an end, they exhibited improvement in mood, social functioning, and mental health.

These advantages stopped being evident after 8 weeks, which suggests that the effects of ginseng may diminish with prolonged usage. A smaller dosage proved to be more effective at enhancing mental performance and lessening fatigue. In general, ginseng has proven to be effective when it comes to enhancing mood, mental functions, and feelings of calmness in both healthy persons and others suffering from conditions like Alzheimer’s disease.

Anti-inflammatory

Ginsenosides in ginseng have shown to contain anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. 

Also, ginsenoside compounds and ginseng extracts have shown to prevent inflammation and raise antioxidant capacity in cells. For instance, one study indicated that Korean red ginseng extract decreased inflammation and boosted antioxidant activity in skin cells from individuals with eczema. The conclusions are positive in humans, as well. Scientists suggest that ginsenosides target pathways in the immune system, which helps in reducing inflammation.

Erectile Dysfunction

Ginseng has proven to be effective in addressing erectile dysfunction in men.

Compounds in the herb have shown to protect against oxidative stress in tissues and blood vessels in the penis, and assists in restoring normal function. What’s more, research has indicated that ginseng may help in promoting nitric oxide production, a compound that enhances muscle relaxation and increases blood circulation in the penis.

A Korean study conducted in 2002 showed that 60% of men who consumed ginseng noted an improvement in their condition, compared to 30% improvement when another medication is used instead.

More research is required to ascertain the efficacy of ginseng as a viable method to treat erectile dysfunction. 

Lower Blood Sugar

Various studies have shown that ginseng may assist in lowering blood sugar and assist in treating diabetes. Ginsenosides affect the production of insulin in the pancreas, improve blood sugar uptake in tissues, and increase insulin production.

More research and regulation of ginseng are required to consider it as a complementary therapy for treating diabetes. This will help scientists investigate the right doses for different patients.

Side Effects

Data is uncertain about all the possible side effects that ginseng could cause. Even though ginseng is generally safe to ingest, here are some of the side effects that have been reported:

-sleep problems

-digestive problems

-headaches

-blurred vision

-irritability

-changes to blood sugar and blood pressure

-nervousness

-diarrhea

-edema

-bleeding

-dry mouth

-dizziness

-delirium

-reduced heart rate

Pricing

Ginseng is costly because some individuals believe its roots are a good medicinal source and can even act as an aphrodisiac. In general, red ginseng is more costly than white ginseng because it has undergone further processing which contributes to the price increase.

immune-boostingEasy to Add to Your Diet

You can ingest the ginseng root in a variety of ways. Lightly steaming it will soften it, or you can eat it raw. Also, you can stew it to make tea. You only need to add hot water to ginseng you’ve sliced up and allow it to steep for a few minutes.

Ginseng is available in capsule, tablet, powder, and oil forms. It can even be a great addition to many recipes such as stir-frys and soups.  

The quantity you consume is contingent on what you want to improve. The typical recommendation is 200-400 mg of ginseng extract or 1-2 grams of raw ginseng root daily. Begin with smaller doses and increase them with time.

Go for a ginseng extract with 2-3% ginsenosides, and take it before meals to improve the absorption rate and acquire the full benefits.

Takeaway: Red Ginseng vs White Ginseng

Although scientists don’t all agree on all the health benefits of ginseng, it’s still safe to consume. And if it has positive effects on you, by all means go for it! Tanasi sells a very high quality red ginseng capsule on this very website. Feel free to compare it to other brands, but rest assured it is as good as ginseng gets. However, before taking this or any supplement, be sure to consult with a physician first.

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