The root is most often available in dried form, either whole or sliced. Ginseng leaf, although not as highly prized, is sometimes also used; as with the root, it is most often available in dried form. By folk medicine practices, American ginseng and Asian ginseng (P. ginseng) roots may be taken orally for diverse supposed benefits, such as for aphrodisia, stimulants, type II diabetes, or for sexual dysfunction in men.
Ginseng may be included in small doses in energy drinks or tisanes. It may be found in cosmetic preparations, as well, but has not been shown to be clinically effective.
Ginsenosides, unique compounds of the Panax species, are under basic and clinical research to reveal their potential properties in humans.
Possibly an adaptogen, ginseng remains under preliminary research for its potential properties or therapeutic effects, such as for respiratory illnesses, quality of life, influenza or fatigue in cancer patients. P. ginseng may affect cancer in animal models but this effect remains unclear.
One study in laboratory animals showed possible effects of ginseng or its ginsenoside components on the central nervous system and gonadal tissues and another on penile erection.
Ginseng is known to contain phytoestrogens and may affect the pituitary gland to increase the secretion of gonadotropins. Other mice studies found effects on sperm production and the estrous cycle.