encyclopedia

Ginseng Root (Asian)

Scientific Names:     

Panax ginseng C.A. Meyer [Fam. Araliaceae]     

Forms:     

Dried whole root; root extract (liquid or dry).     

Traditional Usage:     

– Adaptogenic (returns the body to normal)
– Allergies
– Anti-aging
– Antioxidant
– Blood Sugar Control
– Cellular Regeneration
– Cleansing
– Demulcent (soothing)
– Detoxifying
– Exercise Performance
– Fatigue
– Geriatric Disorders
– Hyperglycemia
– Memory Impairment
– Mental Efficiency
– Prostate Disorders
– Stress
– Temperature Adaptation
– Tonic
– Ulcers
– Vascular Disorders     

Overview:     

Asian ginseng, Panax ginseng C. A. Meyer [Fam. Araliaceae], is one of the most utilized and highly regarded of the medicinal Chinese herbs, and its usage can be traced back over approximately 5,000 years. Ginseng has many medicinal virtues. The genus name Panax is derived from the Greek words pan (all) and akos (cure) meaning cure-all. 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. However, randomized studies in the U.S. with healthy subjects have failed to confirm these findings. Clinical studies on certain Asian ginseng extracts, but not others, have shown Panax ginseng to be effective for reducing hyperglycemia in normal and hyperglycemic persons. However, one recent study found conflicting results for Asian ginseng for treating hyperglycemia while showing consistent good results for American ginseng. In genereal, Asian ginseng is considered to be an adaptagenic herb for bringing balance within the body. It has been shown in studies to enhance the body's resistance to external stresses and improve physical and mental performance. Through its beneficial effects on the central nervous, cardiovascular and endocrine systems, it promotes immune function and increases metabolism. According to the U.S. National Institutes of Health, results from both human and animal studies suggest that Panax ginseng maybe of some value for the treatment of erectile dysfunction and age associated memory impairment through a mechanism involving nitric oxide-induced vasodilation. The National Institutes of Health website also notes that research suggests that Panax ginseng may exert it's health promoting effects by acting as both an antioxidant and an immune stimulant.     

Active Ingredients:     

Standardized extracts of Asian ginseng root contain: 1.5 to 7% ginsenosides. The roots and extracts also contain: 2-Glucoginsenoside-RF; Alpha Maltosyl Beta-D-Fructofuranoside; Beta Elemene; Beta Sitosterol-3-0-Beta-D-Glucoside; Beta Sitosteryl-Glucoside; Biotin; Campesterol-6'-Linolenyglucoside; Campesterol-6'-Linolylglucoside; Campesterol-6'-Palmitylglucoside; Campesterol-6'-Stearylglucoside; Carbon Disulfide; Carbohydrates; D-Fructose; D-Glucose; Disaccharides; Fumaric Acid; Ginsenoside; Ginsenoside F-1; Ginsenoside F-2; Ginsenoside F3; Ginsenoside M-7-CD; Ginsenoside R-O; Ginsenoside RA-2; Ginsenoside RB-1; Ginsenoside RB-2; Ginsenoside RB-3; Ginsenoside RC; Ginsenoside RD; Ginsenoside RE; Ginsenoside RF; Ginsenoside RG-1; Ginsenoside RG-2; Ginsenoside RG-12; Ginsenoside RHI; Heptadeca-1-EN-4.6-DIYN-3,9-DIOL; Kaempferol; Luteolin-7-Glucoside; Maleic Acid; Malic Acid; Monosaccharides; N-Nonacosane; Neoclovene; O-Alpha-D-Glucopyranosyl(Fructofuranoside); O-Alpha-D-Glucopyranosyl (Glucopyranose); Octacosan-1-OL; Oleanolic Acid; Panacene; Panasenoside; Panaxic Acid; Panaxin; Panaxydol; Panxynol; Panaxytriol Polysaccharides (panaxane A to U); Sitosterol-6'Linolenylgluside; Sitosterol-6'-Linolylgluside; Sitosterol-6- Oleylglucoside; Sitosterol-6'- Palmitylglucoside; Sitosterol-6'-Stearylglucoside; Stigmasterol-6'- Linolenylglucoside; Stigmaterol-6'-Linolylglucoside; Stigmaterol-6'-Oleylglucoside; Stigmasterol-6'-Palmitylglucoside; Stigmasterol-6'-Stearylglucoside; Trifolin.     

Suggested Amount:     

According to the U.S. National Institutes of Health website, the daily therapeutic dosage of ginseng root is 0.5-2g of the dried root, or 100 to 300 mg per day of a standardized extract containing 1.5 to 7% ginsenosides, or other preparations taken correspondingly. 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. According to the U.S. National Institutes of Health, exceeding the recommended dose of Asian ginseng may cause adverse reactions such as hypertension, diarrhea, nervousness and insomnia. They also note that while there are no contraindications, Panax ginseng should be used with caution during pregnancy, nursing, and in children under the age of 12 years old, as safety data is currently unavailable.     

Drug Interactions:     

Taking large doses of ginseng in combination with stimulants, including caffeine, is not recommended. Drug interactions with Asian ginseng have been reported with both phenelzine and warfarin.     

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 ginseng be taken with a meal.     

References:      
    
Kiefer D, Pantuso T. 2003. Panax ginseng. Am Fam Physician. 2003 Oct 15; 68(8): 1539-42.
 
Kim ND, Kim EM, Kang KW, Cho MK, Choi SY, Kim SG. 2003. Ginsenoside Rg3 inhibits phenylephrine-induced vascular contraction through induction of nitric oxide synthase. Br J Pharmacol. 2003 Oct; 140(4): 661-70.
 
Kitts D, Hu C. 2000. Efficacy and safety of ginseng. Public Health Nutr 2000 Dec; 3(4A): 473-85
 
Radad K, Gille G, Moldzio R, Saito H, Ishige K, Rausch WD. 2004. Ginsenosides Rb1 and Rg1 effects on survival and neurite growth of MPP(+)-affected mesencephalic dopaminergic cells. J Neural Transm. 2004 Jan; 111(1): 37-45. Epub 2003 Dec 03.
 
Sievenpiper JL, Arnason JT, Leiter LA, Vuksan V. 2003. Null and opposing effects of Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng C.A. Meyer) on acute glycemia: results of two acute dose escalation studies. J Am Coll Nutr. 2003 Dec; 22(6): 524-32.