encyclopedia

American Ginseng Root

Scientific Names:    

Panax quinquefolius L. [Fam. Araliaceae]
    
     
Forms:    

Dried whole root; root extract (liquid or dry.  
 
     
Traditional Usage:     
     
– Adaptogenic (returns the body to normal)
– Aging
– Antioxidant
– Blood Sugar Control
– Cellular Regeneration
– Cleansing
– Demulcent (soothing)
– Detoxifying
– Exercise Performance
– Fatigue
– Hyperglycemia
– Mental Efficiency
– Stress
– Temperature Adaptation
– Tonic
– Vascular Disorders
    
   
Overview:    

American ginseng, Panax quinquefolius L. [Fam. Araliaceae], is closely related to Asian ginseng, Panax ginseng C. A. Meyer, and has many medicinal virtues. The genus name Panax is derived from the Greek words pan (all) and akos (cure) meaning cure-all. Panax quinquefolius contains many of the same active ginsenosides as Panax ginseng. According to Dr. James Duke in the book, The Green Pharmacy, America exports close to $100 million worth of American ginseng annually, mostly to Asians who regard it as an herbal fountain of youth. Controlled studies of Asian ginsengs have repeatedly found improvements in exercise performance (including muscular strength, maximal oxygen uptake, work capacity, serum lactate, heart rate, visual and auditory reaction times, alertness, and psychomotor skills) with a daily dosage greater than 1g of dried root (or equivalent) when taken for at least 8 weeks, particularly with older subjects. Most clinical studies on American ginseng relate to its property of reducing hyperglycemia in normal and hyperglycemic persons. A preliminary short-term clinical study involving 10 normal subjects and 9 blood-sugar control patients randomized to receive 3g ginseng or placebo was conducted to assess whether American ginseng affects after-meal glycemia in humans. The ginseng (or placebo) was given 40 minutes before or together with a 25g oral glucose challenge. In normal subjects, ginseng taken 40 minutes before the glucose challenge significantly reduced after-meal glycemia. In subjects with blood-sugar control problems, the same was true whether capsules were taken before or together with the glucose challenge. The researchers concluded that American ginseng attenuated after-meal glycemia in both study groups. American ginseng also combats stress, boosts the immune system, provides antioxidants to fight chronic disease and aging and prevents endothelial cell damage considered to be the initial step in the genesis of thrombosis and artery damage, the precursors of vascular disease.    
   
     
Active Ingredients:    

Standardized extracts of American ginseng root contain: 4-5% ginsenosides. The Swiss Pharmacopoeia requires ginseng roots to contain at least 2% ginsenosides while the German standard license requires only 1.5% or more.
 
American ginseng root contains:
Triterpene saponins known as ginsenosides-at least 31 different ones have been identified -including 7 ginsenosides used as marker compounds for Panax species, which include Asian and American ginseng; Sesquiterpenes;  Polyacetylenes And Polysaccharides; Panax Quinquefolius Contains: Acetic Acid; Adenine; Adenosine; Alanine; Alloisoleucine; Aluminum; Alpha-Aminobutyric Acid; Beta-Aminoisobutyric; Beta-Aminobutyric Acid; Amylase; Arabinofuranose; Arabinose; Arasaponin A And B;     1.2-1.76% Arginine; 0.1-0.4% Aspartic Acid; Bicyclogermacrene; Biotin; Boron; Calcium; Campestrol; Approximately 70% Carbohydrates; Caryophyllene; 0.1-0.2 Choline; 0.3% Citric Acid; Escin; Estradiol; Estrol Estrone; 1.0% Fat; 5.9-24.5% Fiber; 0.4-0.5% D-Fructose; Ginsenin; Ginsenosides Ro, Rb, Rb1, Rb2, Rc, Rd, Re, Rf, Rg 1 And 2; 0.5-1.5% D-Glucose; Glutamic Acid; Glycine; Histidine; Alpha And Beta-Humulene; Iron; Isoleucine; Kaempferol; Ketoglutaric Acid; Leucine; Linoleic Acid; Linolenic Acid;     Lysine; 0.1-0.2% Magnesium; Maltose; 1.5-2% Nitrogen; Oleanolic Acid; Oleic Acid; 0.6-0.9% Panaxadiol; 0.7-1.2% Panaxatriol; Panaxoside A-F; Phosphorus; 0.6-3.4% Potassium; 12.2% Protein; 0.7% Pyruvic Acid; Resin; 0.75-1% Saponin;  Alpha, Beta And Gamma-Selinene; Beta-Sitosterol; 0.05-0.48% Sodium; 8-32% Starch; 0.05% Stigmasterol; 4.0% Succinic Acid; 1.5-8.5% Sucrose; 0.15% Sulfur; Tannin; 0.05-0.1% Threonine; Tiglic Acid; Uracil; Uronic Acid; N-Valeric Acid; Valine; Vanadium; Vitamin B-12;     Zinc

[Information on American ginseng root taken from: Duke JA. 1992. Handbook of Phytochemical Constituents of GRAS Herbs and Other Economic Plants. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL, pp. 426-428; and Harkey et al. 2001. Variability in commercial ginseng products: an analysis of 25 preparations. Am J Clin Nutr 2001 Jun; 73(6): 1101-6].
    
    
Suggested Amount:     
     
The daily therapeutic dosage of American ginseng root is 1-4g of the dried root or preparations taken correspondingly.  In normal individuals and blood-sugar control patients, 3, 6 or 9 g of American ginseng taken 40, 80 or 120 minutes before a glucose challenge similarly improved glucose tolerance. The German Commission E recommends Panax ginseng at the dosage of 1-2g of root or equivalent preparations taken daily. Standardized extracts are recommended with the dosage of 200-500mg daily. Capsules of powdered root extracts are recommended with the dosage of 200-500mg daily or 1-4g of powdered root per day. Tincture is recommended at the dosage of 1-2ml daily of 1:1 extract (equivalent to 1-2 grams ginseng root). Positive clinical trials with Panax ginseng generally involve a dosage of greater than 1 gram per day. Positive human trials with Panax quinquefolius L. for preventing and/or treating hyperglycemia generally involve dosages of 3 grams or more.

Drug Interactions:    

Taking large doses of ginseng in combination with stimulants, including caffeine, is not recommended.    
     
    
Contraindications:    

Ginseng is contraindicated for those suffering from high blood pressure. Ginseng is also contraindicated during pregnancy according to some authors, although data to support this warning are lacking.    
     
    
Side Effects:    

With recommended dosages: None known. Large doses are said to raise blood pressure and may cause sleeplessness, nervousness and diarrhea. For non-diabetic subjects, to prevent unintended hypoglycemia it may be important that American ginseng be taken with a meal.    
     
    
References:     
     
Foster S, and Duke JA. 1990. American Ginseng in Eastern/Central Medicinal Plants. Peterson Field Guides. Houghton Mifflin Co., New York, NY, p. 50.
 
Kitts D, Hu C. 2000. Efficacy and safety of ginseng. Public Health Nutr 2000 Dec; 3(4A): 473-85
 
Vuksan V, Sievenpiper JL, Xu Z, Wong EY, Jenkins AL, Beljan-Zdravkovic U, Leiter LA, Josse RG, Stavro MP. 2001. Konjac-Mannan and American ginsing: emerging alternative therapies for type 2 diabetes mellitus. J Am Coll Nutr 2001 Oct; 20(5 Suppl): 370S-380S; discussion 381S-383S
 
Wang M, Guilbert LJ, Ling L, Li J, Wu Y, Xu S, Pang P, Shan JJ. 2001. Immuno-modulating activity of CVT-E002, a proprietary extract from North American ginseng (Panax quinquefolium). J Pharm Pharmacol. 2001 Nov; 53(11): 1515-23.
 
Yuan CS, Attele AS, Wu JA, Lowell TK, Gu Z, Lin Y. 1999. Panax quinquefolium L. inhibits thrombin-induced endothelin release in vitro. Am J Chin Med 1999; 27(3-4): 331-8.