Panax ginseng, Meyer (Araliaceae). Commonly called ginseng, Asian ginseng, and Panax quinquefolius, also known as ginseng. Other closely related species included Panax notoginseng and Panax japonicus. More Info continues below.
Panax ginseng, Meyer (Araliaceae). Commonly called ginseng, Asian ginseng, and Panax quinquefolius, also known as ginseng. Other closely related species included Panax notoginseng and Panax japonicus. Eleutherococcus senticosus, referred to as Siberian ginseng, is a close relative. In French it is called Ginseng; in German, it is known both as Ginseng and Ginsengwurzel.
Products labeled ginseng usually contain material from the roots of P. Ginseng or P. Quinquefolius. (Asian and ginseng). Most of the P. Ginseng sold in the United States and Europe is imported from Korea where it is grown commercially. Plants are harvested when they are from five to seven years old. Roots that have been allowed to air dry are the source of "white ginseng." Roots that are steamed for two to four hours yield "red ginseng." Red ginseng contains all the same active ingredients found in white ginseng, but some additional compounds are created during the steaming process. P. quinquefolius, which grows in the United States, is main- ly exported to China. E. senticosus is very closely related, but contains a slightly different group of active ingredients referred to as eleutherosides. The active ingredients in P. Ginseng or P. quinquefolius are called ginsenosides. Over 20 different ginsenosides have been isolated from the roots, leaves, and flowers.
Traditional Chinese healers have used ginseng as a restorative "tonic" since the early Han Dynasty, more than 2,000 years ago. Europeans first learned of this plant from a Jesuit missionary, Father Petrus Jartoux (1668-1720). Jartoux was working in Northern China, and he published a book containing his observations on ginseng in 1709. Inspired by what he had read, another Jesuit, P‚re Joseph Francois Lafitau (1681-1746) began looking for ginseng in America. Lafitau found that the Mohawk Indians used a plant almost identical to the one described by Jartoux. Lafitau sent a sample of ginseng to Jartoux, and not long thereafter, North clipper ships (including some owned by John Jacob Astor, who also realized handsome profits shipping to China), began carrying -grown ginseng to China. Most ginseng is grown in Madison County, Wisconsin. But just to make matters more confusing, Chinese farmers have planted ginseng in China. ginseng grown in China is referred to as "Chinese white" (no relation to China White heroin!), and is generally considered to be of poor quality. Ginseng is on the endangered species list, and ginseng harvesting is under the control of the United States government.
Traditional Support Uses
To maintain health and to help avoid health issues. It can also be used as an aid during convalescence, to improve alertness and concentration, and generally can be used to help support fatigue. It was, and still is, especially used for the elderly, but it can also be used by the young to improve athletic performance.
Commission E Recommendations
Ginseng can be used as a tonic to reduce fatigue and debility and to improve mental concentration. It can also be used during convalescence.
Ginseng's healthy actions are attributed to panaxosides and ginsenosides, which are thought to stimulate the central nervous system. These substances are present in all three varieties of ginseng: Panax ginseng (Asian ginseng), Panax quinquefolium ( ginseng), and Eleutherococcus senticosus (Siberian ginseng, a cousin of the other two).
Ginseng's benefits are more evident in people (or animals) who are, in some way, stressed. Many of the benefits are hard to classify, and ultimately a new word "adaptogen," was coined to described them. There is research suggesting that ginseng can improve the ability of young athletes to run, of middle-aged men to work harder, and of elderly subjects to do arithmetic. Experimental animals supported with ginseng become resistant (though not immune) to germs, lack of oxygen, and even X-ray irradiation.
The active ingredients, the ginsenosides, have two seemingly conflicting actions that could explain all of these actions: they are antioxidants, but they also stimulate production of nitric oxide. The antioxidant effects are probably what protect the heart and brain against the effects of aging. The other benefits may derive from ginseng's effects on nitric oxide production. Nitric oxide is a free radical, but not all free radicals are bad. In fact, low concentrations of free radicals are necessary for normal body function. Nitric oxide molecules can be used to send messages from one nerve to another and from nerves to muscles and blood vessels. Increasing the amount of nitric oxide can cause blood vessels to dilate, and possibly increase blood flow to the brain. Increased nitric oxide production may also explain why ginseng is praised as an aphrodisiac. The nerves that support healthy performance contain nitric oxide.
Potential Health Benefits
Commission E tested the dried root of Panax ginseng, the form of the herb native to Asia. Researchers endorsed ginseng's value as a "tonic for invigoration and fortification in times of fatigue and debility and declining work and concentration, also during convalescence." In short, it's a pick-me-up and stress-buster. Some health practitioners employ ginseng to help support chronic fatigue syndrome and melancholy.
How to Use the Herb
You can chew bits of the whole root, although it's bitter-tasting, or take ginseng in tablets, in sweetened teas, as a powdered root, or in a liquid extract. Commission E used cut root for teas and powders and recommends 1-2 grams per day.
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Hot tea brewing method: Bring freshly drawn cold water to a rolling boil. Place 1 tea bag for each cup into the teapot. Pour the boiling water into the teapot. Cover and let steep for 3-7 minutes according to taste (the longer the steeping time the stronger the tea).
Iced tea brewing method (to make 1 liter/quart): Place 6 tea bags into a teapot or heat resistant pitcher. Pour 1 1/4 cups of freshly boiled water over the tea. Steep for 5 minutes. Quarter fill a serving pitcher with cold water. Pour the tea into your serving pitcher straining the bags. Add ice and top-up the pitcher with cold water. Garnish and sweeten to taste. [A rule of thumb when preparing fresh brewed iced tea is to double the strength of hot tea since it will be poured over ice and diluted with cold water].
Ginseng can overstimulate the central nervous system, causing anxiety, insomnia, diarrhea, and high blood pressure. Commission E found no known interactions with other drugs, but advises discontinuing use after three months, commenting that "a repeated course is feasible." Some health practitioners say heart patients shouldn't use ginseng.
Claims about ginseng toxicity are difficult to sort out. Based on animal studies of acute toxicity, the lethal dose in humans would be something on the order of two pounds! There are reports in the medical literature describing nervousness, insomnia, and gastrointestinal upset in long-term users who were taking up to 15 grams per day. No such difficulties have been reported in people taking the recommended dose of 1 to 2 grams per day. Still, ginseng does seem to activate the central nervous system, so using ginseng with too much coffee or caffeine-containing beverages might give some users more of a "buzz" than they would like.
The biggest cause for concern is whether consumers will get what they are paying for. Different brands of ginseng may contain unpredictably low or high amounts of ginsenosides, which explains why it is so difficult to interpret reports in the literature - without knowing how much ginsenosides had been given, its impossible to kflow whether it wasthe ginsenosides that produced the benefits (or the undesired side effects). More recent research studies use standardized formulations containing 4 percent ginsenosides.
There appears to be no serious health concerns, but the issue of toxicity from long-term use in humans has never really been studied. In some people, ginseng can produce moderate blood pressure elevation, which means that patients with high blood pressure need to discuss the possible use of ginseng with their doctors first. As,with any other drug, ginseng use during pregnancy is not a good idea. Commission E says that ginseng use should be limited to three months, but that "a repeated course is feasible."
There are no reports of any ginseng product interfering with standard workplace urine drug screening tests.
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* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Products are intended to support general well being and are not intended to treat, diagnose, mitigate, prevent, or cure any condition or disease. If conditions persist, please seek advice from your medical doctor. Information provided at ZooScape.com relies partly on Traditional Uses. The essence of the current American rule on Traditional Uses is, as stated by FTC, "Claims based on historical or traditional use should be substantiated by confirming scientific evidence, or should be presented in such a way that consumers understand that the sole basis for the claim is a history of use of the product for a particular purpose."