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Ginseng: Your miracle root for body, mind, and skin health

Focus on Ingredients 21.03.23 8 min. read

Part 6 of “Inside is what's good. For you and your skin” series by This Place

Would you like to better understand the ingredients list of your cosmetics ? Check out our series of articles, “What's good is inside. For you and your skin.” by This Place. 

We kicked the series off with Bakuchiol – a plant that has only recently been celebrated as a hero ingredient. You can access the other articles via the links at the bottom of the page.

Do you often feel physically and emotionally exhausted due to stress and everyday pressures of today’s fast paced-world? You're not alone.

Ginseng has been used as a remedy for stress in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years. However, recent studies [25] have shown that the root not only has a positive effect on the body's ability to adapt to stress , but can also improve your skin's appearance .

In this article, you will learn more about the traditional use of this medicinal plant and why it's worth integrating our new Hero Ingredient into your skincare routine:



Are you ready to discover the world of Korean Ginseng?

Ginseng: History, Cultivation, and Processing

"Panax ginseng", also known as Asian ginseng or Korean ginseng, is one of the oldest natural remedies in human history.

The shape of the root is carrot-like and, with a little imagination, resembles the shape of a human due to its branching. It is therefore no wonder that the Chinese name "ginseng" translates to "human root" or "human body"! "Panax" is derived from the Greek word "pan-akos", which means "all-healing". [21]

Cultivation and processing were first described in the 12th century and have hardly changed since then.

The roots require 6 years of growth before they can be harvested. Since fresh white ginseng tends to spoil quickly, it is steamed and dried after harvest to improve its shelf life. [12] 

During this process, the root takes on a red color. Hence the name "red ginseng". Incidentally, the discoloration occurs because the sugars - known as ginsenosides - contained in ginseng caramelize through the steam. The percentage of these sugar compounds in the root also increases during steaming. [3; 23] 

The ginsenosides are responsible for the majority of the positive effects of ginseng. Therefore, red ginseng is considered particularly effective and valuable. [12]

Due to the high cost of Red Ginseng, related species are sometimes traded as substitutes. The most well-known "substitute species" is American Ginseng (Panax quinquefolius), which looks very similar to true Ginseng (Panax Ginseng) but contains fewer active ingredients. [21]

Therefore, when purchasing your cosmetic products, you should make sure that "Panax Ginseng Root Extract" is listed in the ingredients.

Due to its growing popularity, Ginseng is cultivated in many places. The majority of cultivation takes place in South Korea, where the annual production amounts to more than 11,000 tons. [2]

Healing through Nature: Ginseng in Traditional Chinese Medicine

The prefix Panax, "all-healing", is well-deserved. Few medicinal plants have been researched as thoroughly as Panax Ginseng. Its use in alternative medicine can be traced back up to 5000 years!

Today, it is known that a significant portion of the therapeutic effects of Ginseng are due to the aforementioned ginsenosides. Their overall content in the root varies depending on the plant species. However, the quantity of ginsenosides is always decisive for the quality of the root.

Ginseng also contains important nutrients such as vitamins, trace elements, essential oils, amino acids, fatty acids, and polysaccharides. [2]

Due to their structure, Ginsenosides belong to the class of plant substances known as saponins . They are so called because they can produce a soapy foam when combined with water. The term saponin is derived from the Latin word "sapo" for soap. [22]

Many plant species produce saponins as part of their natural defense mechanism against insects, bacteria, viruses, and fungi. [17]

Saponins can achieve many different biological effects because of their structural diversity. Their uses in traditional plant medicine include: 

  • expectoration in cases of persistent cough (e.g., ivy or primrose)
  • strengthening of the venous system (e.g., horse chestnut seeds)
  • anti-inflammatory effects in cases of gastrointestinal problems (e.g., licorice root)


Ginsenosides also differ greatly in structure and effect. Although many of them have already been scientifically analyzed, their complete effects on the body have not yet been conclusively researched.

Here’s an overview of the most important traditional and medically researched uses of Korean Ginseng:

Stress relief

Ginseng is best-known for its adaptogenic effects. Adaptogens support your body in “adapting” to physical and emotional stress situations

In 2013, 90 study participants were treated with a ginseng extract for 4 weeks. Although the general severity of fatigue did not change compared to the placebo group, the subjects reported a significant relief of mental exhaustion symptoms. [9]

In addition, ginseng led to a reduction of reactive oxygen species and increased glutathione serum levels in the treatment group. This means that ginseng can also protect you from oxidative stress. [9]

Did you know that stress is also one of the main causes of depression and anxiety? Therefore, the adaptogenic effects of red ginseng may also contribute to strengthening your mental health. [13; 16] 

However, research in this area still needs to be further developed.

Improvement of cognitive abilities

There are numerous studies that investigate the effects of ginseng on concentration, learning ability, and memory. Overall, these results suggest that ginseng is a promising option for improving various cognitive functions. [19]

The "man-root" also shows great potential in treating Alzheimer's. In one study, memory, language, attention, and orientation of the treatment group showed significant improvement in comparison to the control group. [16]

Enhanced immunity

Your immune system can also benefit from ginseng extracts. As well as strengthening the general immune defense , ginseng may even prevent viral infections by increasing various antibodies. [16; 24] In addition, ginseng has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. [6]

Radiant skin with Panax Ginseng: our new Skincare Hero

Are you now wondering how, on top of all these different uses, ginseng is supposed to help your skin? Then keep reading. After all, we didn't choose ginseng as a hero ingredient for our new eye gel Play it Cool for no reason.

Extracts from red ginseng have been popular in Korean cosmetic products for some time. We think this is justified - after all, this ingredient is a true multi-tasker. Red ginseng has antioxidant and antibacterial effects, is anti-inflammatory, and hydrating . It can also prevent premature skin aging and fade pigmentation .

The best part: all these effects have been scientifically proven. Let's take a look at the current state of research together:

Ginseng for firmer, moisturized skin

Ginseng can help improve skin elasticity and reduce fine lines and wrinkles by smoothing your skin texture.

Researchers have found that ginseng can stimulate collagen production in your skin and counteract the breakage of existing collagen fibers . Collagen is a body protein that is largely responsible for the firmness and elasticity of the skin . It forms a network of fibers in the dermis and thus ensures its structure and elasticity. However, with age, the production of collagen in the skin decreases, which can lead to wrinkles and a loss of elasticity. [11; 25]

The moisture content of the skin also decreases with age, causing dehydration lines. Studies suggest that ginseng can improve the moisture content of your skin and thus visually smooth the skin. [7]

Ginseng for acne

Acne can develop, among other things, when certain bacteria multiply in sebum-clogged hair follicles, causing inflammation. Topical use of antibiotics is not a long-term solution as the germs eventually become resistant to the drug . In addition, antibiotics harm your skin’s microbiome because they also get rid of the "good" bacteria.

In a study from 2018, an extract from red ginseng was compared with common acne therapeutics such as benzoyl peroxide and azelaic acid . The extract had comparable and in some cases even better antimicrobial activity against the responsible Propionibacterium acnes. In a small study of 20 subjects, the four-week use of a ginseng cream effectively reduced sebum production and skin redness. [4]

Although further research is needed in this area, ginseng may be a natural alternative to acne creams due to its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial effects.

And even if you - despite knowing better - couldn't resist picking a pimple, you don't have to worry. Researchers have found that ginseng may help even with irritated, inflamed skin. The root supports the natural wound healing process and thus the regeneration of your skin . [25]

Ginseng to protect from UV-B radiation and free radicals

According to several studies, ginseng extract can protect your skin from UV-B radiation and the associated damage such as skin cancer and aging. [10; 18] Nevertheless, the use of ginseng-containing products does not replace your daily application of sunscreen! 

Ginseng also has antioxidant properties. This means that it can protect your skin from free radicals . Free radicals are generated, among other things, by external factors such as UV radiation, tobacco smoke, or environmental pollution. They can damage your skin and lead to premature skin aging or pigmentation disorders. Ginseng extract can intercept free radicals on your skin and prevent the harmful effects associated with them. Their cell-protective effect is reinforced by daily application of a sunscreen. [20]

Ginseng for treatment of Hyperpigmentation

Pigmentation spots occur due to excessive production of melanin, the color-giving pigment of your skin. The main causes of hyperpigmentation include excessive sun exposure, injuries, hormonal imbalances, aging, and genetic predisposition.

Certain components in ginseng can suppress the enzyme tyrosinase , which plays a significant role in melanin production. In combination with the ability to intercept UV-B radiation, ginseng can be helpful in lightening sun-induced pigmentation spots . [25]

Ginseng for Atopic Dermatitis

Atopic dermatitis is a chronic inflammatory skin disease. Although it affects up to 20% of people worldwide, there is no efficient, low-side-effect treatment available as of yet.

Ginseng extract has shown promise in studies, as it was able to reduce both the size of affected skin areas and the severity of inflammation . Scaling and dryness of the skin could also be reduced compared to the control group. According to researchers, ginseng could thus represent a natural and low-side-effect alternative to existing treatment options (e.g. corticosteroids). [8; 15]

Ginseng in Play it Cool: Your Kickstart for Tired Eyes

So, how can you integrate ginseng into your skincare routine from now on? We may have just the thing for you. Allow us to introduce you to Play it Cool. Our brand-new eye gel combines red ginseng with caffeine and hyaluronic acid for a 360° care effect - everywhere and anytime.

Caffeine protects your delicate eye area from oxidative stress [14] and premature sun-induced skin aging. [1]

Hyaluronic acid provides intense moisture, increases the elasticity of your skin, and can reduce the appearance of dehydration lines. [5]

Ginseng stimulates collagen production in your skin and helps to reduce pigmentation.

The depuffing effect of Play it Cool, in combination with a mini lymphatic drainage, can also reduce the appearance of tired, swollen eyes. Its lightweight texture does not leave a heavy film on your skin and is suitable as a makeup base. Here you can learn how to turn the moment of applying Play it Cool into a small ritual.

Conclusion: Red Ginseng, Your Power-Ingredient for Beautiful Skin

Red ginseng has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for thousands of years. The broad spectrum of its effectiveness is very well researched and ranges from stress reduction and immune strengthening to improving cognitive abilities.

In recent years, the medicinal plant has also become increasingly popular in the cosmetics industry. The trend, which originated in Korea, is increasingly reflected in the ingredient lists of European beauty brands, including This Place! After reviewing numerous studies, we celebrate Panax ginseng as one of the new skincare heroes in our well thought-out formulations.

Ginseng extract can prevent skin aging and reduce pigmentation disorders . It also has hydrating, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties , suggesting its potential as a natural alternative to synthetic ingredients in the treatment of acne and dermatitis. 

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