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Ginseng vs Caffeine: Which Is Better?

Ginseng vs Caffeine: Which Is Better?

Caffeine is the go-to stimulant for most people. 

Just think about the most popular drinks today - coffee, sodas, energy drinksCaffeine is at the center of them all. 

But things are changing.

People are waking up to its side effects and wondering if there’s a better way to stay alert and focused.

Good news: 

There is!

Ginseng is a natural alternative to caffeine. It’s a slow-growing herb with fleshy roots and significant health benefits.

Ginseng Vs Caffeine 

Ginseng may soon outcompete caffeine. They have somewhat similar effects on energy and mental stamina, but use totally different means of achieving it.

Let’s compare side by side: 

  1. Their Metabolic Mechanisms Of Action

Generally, metabolism is defined as all the chemical reactions in the body involved in maintaining cellular functions. 

Metabolism can be divided into two categories – anabolism and catabolism.

Anabolism is the construction phase of metabolism. It involves producing complex molecules from more simple ones. This process requires energy.

Catabolism, on the other hand, refers to the breakdown of complex molecules to simple ones. It releases energy. 

To put it simply, anabolism is constructive and catabolism is destructive.

Ginseng is an anabolic herb. It helps build energy by converting simple food molecules such as natural sugars into complex energy. 

Caffeine, on the other hand, is catabolic. That means it produces energy by breaking down complex body tissues. This destructive process may not be noticeable initially, but it’s the reason why regular coffee consumption eventually wears you out.

  1. Their Response to Stress and Anxiety 

Ginseng is a potent anti-stress remedy. It works at the adrenal glands to relieve them from the burden of stress. 

This is where the stress hormone - cortisol - is produced. 

By regulating the release of cortisol, ginseng provides an ideal stress resistance mechanism. 

Caffeine is also a stress reliever, but its benefit is short lived. When used over a long period, caffeine may exacerbate your stress levels. 

This can be seen in the fact that some people experience “stress like” symptoms when they drink too much caffeine. They include things like irritability, rapid breathing, muscle twitches, and hand tremors.  

  1. Their Interaction With the Gut 

Besides the mouth (which is actually the first part of the GI tract), your gut is the first point of contact with any irritants you consume. 

And although its lining regenerates every few hours when damaged, prolonged irritation can lead to things like ulcers.

With this in mind, coffee is very acidic. While moderate coffee drinking may not cause problems, prolonged drinking can cause constant gut irritation. 

On the other hand, ginseng is a healing herb. There’s significant evidence that ginseng has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and has been used traditionally as a digestive aid. 

  1. Their Effect on the Cardiovascular System 

Both scientific studies and anecdotal evidence suggest that caffeine has adverse effects on the heart. 

For instance, there was one study that associated daily consumption of 6 cups of coffee to an increased risk of heart attacks. 

That’s not too hard to believe when it’s documented that high caffeine intake is linked to things like irregular heartbeat and increased nervous tension. 

Ginseng, on the other hand, can normalize blood pressure. Evidence suggests that ginseng can elevate blood pressure when it is low, and reduce it when it is too high.

How Ginseng Helps Fight Fatigue and Increase Focus 

One of the more informative reports on this topic is a study conducted by the Mayo Clinic on patients being treated for cancer. The study was to investigate the benefits of ginseng when used as an energy booster for these patients.

More specifically, it was American ginseng, and they were given either 2000 mg ginseng daily or a placebo.

It only took 4 weeks for signs of improvement. But by week 8, all the patients felt more energized and no side effects were reported.

It’s generally believed that ginseng’s ability to fight fatigue is thanks to its influence on the adrenal glands and the subsequent effect on stress hormone (cortisol) release.

Reasons You Might Want to Drink Ginseng Tea Instead of Coffee

You may have already made up your mind whether you want to swap coffee for ginseng or not. 

But if you haven’t considered it yet, here are some reasons why you may want to make the switch.

  1. Ginseng Has No Post Energy Crash

Post energy crash is the most common complaint associated with caffeine (and therefore coffee).

In a way, caffeine only postpones fatigue. When its effects wear off, you go into full-blown nap mode.

With ginseng, that doesn’t happen.

  1. Ginseng Isn’t Addictive

Since caffeine offers a temporary fix, you always want to maintain its levels in your blood so that the “temporary” becomes continuous. 

This is essentially how addiction works. But when you take ginseng, there are no associated signs or symptoms of addiction. 


  1. Coffee Is Acidic 

Coffee is acidic and can be detrimental to your gut health. The acidity of coffee may also alter the pH of your body and lead to other complications.

Body pH is beyond the scope of this article, but you should research it if you’re interested. Very interesting stuff!

Does Ginseng Keep You Awake?

Typically, no. But it’s certainly not something you want to take at night before bed. 

Just like any other herb with therapeutic benefits, ginseng has its side effects which become more apparent when taken in large amounts. 

There have been studies that associate too much ginseng with insomnia in people who already struggle with sleeping disorders.

Is Ginseng Considered A Stimulant? 

No. Ginseng is considered a tonic - not a stimulant. 

Stimulants refer to those substances that work by bringing you up or down. They can give you more energy or make you feel more relaxed. 

One of the advantages of stimulants is that they have a rapid onset of action, meaning it takes only a few minutes to notice their effects. 

However, you pay a greater price to achieve this. By working fast, stimulants don’t give your body time to adjust and the rapid change can lead to undesirable effects later. 

Tonics, on the other hand, have a relatively slower onset of action while yielding the same effects.

They also typically strengthen the body and have a better calming effect than stimulants.

If you want stamina, clarity, and energy without caffeine, consider ginseng. Our Awaken formula provides an alcohol-free way to enjoy the energizing benefits of ginseng, yerba mate, and more.