Rhodiola and ginseng are herbal supplements obtained from the roots of plants, but from unrelated plant families. Both have a long history of use in traditional medicine and they provide a few of the same health benefits. Always talk to your health care provider before using herbal supplements because they may interact with other medications or cause side effects.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
Rhodiola rosea, also called "golden root," belongs to the Crassulaceae family of plants that thrive in cool mountainous regions. Asian ginseng and American ginseng belong to the Panax family and have similar active ingredients, but should not be confused with other types of ginseng that have different effects; Siberian ginseng and American ginseng are not the same.
Rhodiola and ginseng function as antioxidants. They’re both associated with improved physical endurance, increased mental alertness and reduced fatigue. Rhodiola and ginseng are also used for cardiovascular benefits. Ginseng may decrease cholesterol, while rhodiola improves levels of substances called monoamines that keep blood pressure under control. rhodiola and ginseng are adaptogens — a generic term meaning that they help the body deal with stress.
- Rhodiola and ginseng function as antioxidants.
- Ginseng may decrease cholesterol, while rhodiola improves levels of substances called monoamines that keep blood pressure under control.
How to Use Dried Ginseng Root
Rhodiola exhibits antidepressant effects and may help reduce anxiety, according to Memorial Sloan-Kettering 13. It assists the movement of neurotransmitters in the brain and functions as a central nervous stimulant. Rhodiola may cause irritability or insomnia, and may interfere with a variety of different medications, so if you take any prescription medications, talk to your doctor before using rhodiola.
The active ingredients in ginseng, called ginsenosides, stimulate the immune system and may help control blood glucose. They also help reduce inflammation following physical activity. Ginseng may reduce the risk of some cancers, but since it has an estrogenic effect, it should not be used if you have hormone-sensitive cancer. It may cause side effects such as:
- dry mouth
- an increased heart rate
If you take insulin, anticoagulants or monoamine oxidase inhibitors, do not use ginseng before consulting your physician.
- The active ingredients in ginseng, called ginsenosides, stimulate the immune system and may help control blood glucose.
- Ginseng may reduce the risk of some cancers, but since it has an estrogenic effect, it should not be used if you have hormone-sensitive cancer.
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Conflicting claims and less-than-definitive statements that rhodiola or ginseng may have an effect, can be confusing. These herbs contain biologically active substances that have beneficial effects. However, they also contain ingredients that demonstrate opposite effects in the body, according to the University of Chicago. These diverse effects can lead to contradictory information. Research continues to provide new information about how rhodiola and ginseng function.
- Conflicting claims and less-than-definitive statements that rhodiola or ginseng may have an effect, can be confusing.
How to Use Dried Ginseng Root
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- Memorial Sloan-Kettering: Rhodiola
- New York University: Langone Medical Center: Rhodiola Rosea
- Memorial Sloan-Kettering: Ginseng
- Mancuso C, Santangelo R. Panax ginseng and Panax quinquefolius: From pharmacology to toxicology. Food Chem Toxicol. 2017;107(Pt A):362–372. doi:10.1016/j.fct.2017.07.019
- Arring NM, Millstine D, Marks LA, Nail LM. Ginseng as a treatment for fatigue: A systematic review. J Altern Complement Med. 2018;24(7):624–633. doi:10.1089/acm.2017.0361
- Barton DL, Soori GS, Bauer BA, et al. Pilot study of Panax quinquefolius (American ginseng) to improve cancer-related fatigue: a randomized, double-blind, dose-finding evaluation: NCCTG trial N03CA. Support Care Cancer. 2010;18(2):179–187. doi:10.1007/s00520-009-0642-2
- Best T, Clarke C, Nuzum N, Teo WP. Acute effects of combined Bacopa, American ginseng and whole coffee fruit on working memory and cerebral haemodynamic response of the prefrontal cortex: a double-blind, placebo-controlled study [published online ahead of print, 2019 Nov 18]. Nutr Neurosci. 2019;1–12. doi:10.1080/1028415X.2019.1690288
- Jenkins AL, Morgan LM, Bishop J, Jovanovski E, Jenkins DJA, Vuksan V. Co-administration of a konjac-based fibre blend and American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius L.) on glycaemic control and serum lipids in type 2 diabetes: a randomized controlled, cross-over clinical trial. Eur J Nutr. 2018;57(6):2217–2225. doi:10.1007/s00394-017-1496-x
- Mousa HA. Prevention and treatment of influenza, influenza-like illness, and common cold by herbal, complementary, and natural therapies. J Evid Based Complementary Altern Med. 2017;22(1):166–174. doi:10.1177/2156587216641831
- Seida JK, Durec T, Kuhle S. North American (Panax quinquefolius) and Asian Ginseng (Panax ginseng) preparations for prevention of the common cold in healthy adults: A systematic review. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2011;2011:282151. doi:10.1093/ecam/nep068
- PennState Hershey: Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. American ginseng. Updated April 27, 2016.
Sandi Busch received a Bachelor of Arts in psychology, then pursued training in nursing and nutrition. She taught families to plan and prepare special diets, worked as a therapeutic support specialist, and now writes about her favorite topics – nutrition, food, families and parenting – for hospitals and trade magazines.