Laboratory studies suggest that North American ginseng has antioxidant properties that protect heart muscle cells from free radical damage.
Extracts of Ontario-grown ginseng have also been shown to protect against endothelial cell damage. Endothelial cells line blood vessels and their dysfunction is considered to be at the centre of a wide spectrum of cardiovascular diseases. Animal studies suggest that extracts of NAG can also reduce cholesterol.
A recent study was the first to specifically investigate the effect of North American ginseng on blood pressure, in individuals with high blood pressure. The results suggested that, in the short-term, Ontario-grown ginseng had a neutral effect overall: it neither raised nor lowered blood pressure. This study helps to address some of the controversy about the use of ginseng in individuals with high blood pressure, since previous studies have reported elevations of blood pressure in some people who use ginseng frequently.
Shao ZH, Xie JT, Vanden Hoek, et al. Antioxidant effects of North American ginseng berry in cardiomyocytes exposed to acute oxidant stress. Biochem Acta 2004 Feb;1670(3):165-71
Stavro PM, Woo M, Heim TF, Leiter LA, Vuksan V. North American ginseng exerts a neutral effect on blood pressure in individuals with hypertension. Hypertension 2005; 46:1-6