Ginseng

General Information


Common Name:

Ginseng

Latin Name:

Panax quinquefolium (American Ginseng)
Panax ginseng (China, Korea, Japan and Russia)
Panax pseudo-ginseng

Family:

Araliaceae

Other Names:

  • Korean Ginseng;
  • Panax Ginseng.

Indications & Historical Uses

  • CNS depressant, tranquilizer;
  • Sedative, relaxant;
  • Treatment for Insomnia, anxiety, poor appetite;
  • Agitation;
  • Increase vitality in conditions of weakness, prolonged stress, poor immunity, or chronic disease;
  • Hypotensive;
  • Improves gastro-intestinal motility;
  • Immune system stimulant;
  • Increase synthesis of cholesterol in liver;
  • Helps to regulate blood sugar and lipid levels;
  • Regulates adrenal gland function.

Widely cultivated, Korean ginseng is used as a natural restorative, and valued for its adaptogenic properties. An adaptogen is supposed to help the body adapt to internal and external stressors and prevent stress induced damage and illnesses .Herbal practitioners define adaptogens as normalizers but adaptogen has no medical definition.. People use ginseng to increase their endurance and stamina, to fight off stress, to recuperate from a debilitating illness, to fight fatigue and to enhance their performance-physical, mental and even sexual. Ginseng is therefore sometimes used as an aphrodisiac. Ginseng extracts have been shown to have antioxidant activity, and to protect against radiation damage . European studies have shown that ginseng increases reaction times, alertness, concentration, and enhances coordination .

Contraindications & Precautions

Should not be used by persons with hypoglycaemia, insulin dependent diabetes, high blood pressure or heart disorders, unless approved by their physician.
See Caution.

Adverse Side Effects:
May cause nervousness, increased blood pressure, irritability in high doses. See Caution. Ginseng and /or adulterants have estrogenic activity and may cause vaginal bleeding and mastalgia [breast soreness] and patients with estrogen dependent malignancies may need to avoid ginseng.

weiDrug Interactions:
Patients on anticoagulants e.g coumadin should avoid ginseng because ginseng is known to increase or decrease blood coagulation. Ginseng has potential to cause hypoglycaemia , because some components of ginseng can elevate plasma insulin levels. Therefore, diabetics who take ginseng must have their blood sugars monitored closely .

Dosage Information

How Supplied:

250 mg soft gel capsules.

Dosage:

500 mg per day of extract.

Pharmacology

The main active ingredients of ginseng are the more than 20 saponin triterpenoid glycosides called ginsenosides or panaxosides. These range from Rb 1 group of ginsenoside (sedative and metabolic effects) to Rg 1 group (more arousing and stimulating). Rb1 Ginsenosides also have CNS depressant activity, weak anti-inflammatory activity, and increase bowel motility, as well as have some anti-pyretic, anti-convulsant and analgesic properties. The Rg1 ginsenosides have weak CNS stimulating properties, and protect against fatigue, as well as increase motor activity. There are no apparent major differences between American Ginseng & Oriental Ginseng. Siberian Ginseng is a different plant (Eleutherococcus Senticoccus), which has differing properties, and should not be confused with Panax Ginseng.

Origin

Panax quinquefolium is a deciduous perennial shrub whose fleshy roots take 4 years to cultivate. Cultivated in Canada, Eastern U.S., Wisconsin, China, Korea. American ginseng is more sedative and relaxing and increases yin energy while Korean ginseng is more stimulating and increases the yang energy.

Processing

4 year old roots are harvested and dried.

Scientific References

Weiner, M. (1990) Weiner’s Herbal. Mill Valley: Quantum: Books.

Foster, S.: American ginseng: Panx Quinquarfolians, Botanical series no. 308, American Botanical Council, Austin, Tex. (1991) 8 pp.

Baldwin, CS et al. (1986) What pharmacists should know about Ginseng. Pharm. J. Nov 8th: 582.

Brekhman, I.I. and Dardymov, I.V. (1969) New substances of plant origin which increase nonspecific resistance. Ann Rev Pharm. 9:419..

Hia, et al. (1979) Stimulation of pituitary adrenocortical system by ginseng saponins. Endocrinol. Japonica. 26(6): 661.

Mowrey, D. (1990) Guaranteed Potency Herbs. A Compilation of writings on the subject.

Oshima, Y et al. (1987) J. Nat. Prod. 50.

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