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One of the most well recognized herbs is ginseng. Panax ginseng is widely touted as enhancing physical performance and health including sexual dysfunction, type II diabetes, and fatigue. Not surprisingly, ginseng shows up as a common ingredient in many energy drinks. The results of studies investigating the effects of ginseng on exercise performance are mixed, but many have been relatively uncontrolled or used too low a dose to show effectiveness. A new study from Korea tested the effects of a high dose of Panax ginseng extract (20 g/day of Korean red ginseng extract 3 times per day) on exercise-induced muscle damage and inflammation responses. After one week of supplementation, subjects performed a rigorous bout of uphill running and were tracked for four days of recovery. The subjects supplemented with ginseng showed significantly lower markers of inflammation and muscle damage in the blood. Subjects also performed a glucose tolerance  test one day into recovery. Ginseng lowered blood glucose and insulin levels during the test indicating improved insulin sensitivity. These finding are consistent with other studies showing that ginseng supplementation can improve recovery from exercise.
. Hsu CC, Ho MC, Lin LC, Su B, Hsu MC. American ginseng supplementation attenuates creatine kinase level induced by submaximal exercise in human beings. World J Gastroenterol. 2005 Sep 14;11(34):5327-31.
Jung HL, Kwak HE, Kim SS, Kim YC, Lee CD, Byurn HK, Kang HY. Effects of Panax ginseng Supplementation on Muscle Damage and Inflammation after  Uphill Treadmill Running in Humans. Am J Chin Med. 2011;39(3):441-50.