The EclecticPhysician

The Eclectic Physician
Medicinal Herb Monographs

Ginseng/Chinese Ginseng/ Korean Ginseng

Botanical Name 
Panax ginseng

The information on this page compiled by
Beth Burch N.D.
Index
(click on the keywords)

Introduction

One of the most famous Chinese medicinal plants, Ginseng has been used in China for over 2000 years to help restore “yang” energy. The list of conditions it has been used for makes Ginseng almost a panacea. Extensive modern research has been done to try and confirm the multitude of properties attributed to Ginseng; the most reliable results have been with its ability to help with adapting to stress, improvement in cellular metabolism, immune modulation, liver protection and improved hormonal function.

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Description

  • A small perennial plant belonging to the Araliaceae family, Ginseng originated in the woods of northern China and Korea and is cultivate in Korea, China, Russia and Japan. It has a fleshy taproot, five-lobed palmate leaves and umbels of greenish yellow flowers. It bears a small, red pea shaped fruit with 2 seeds. A slow growing plant, it can take more than 5 years to mature. The root is the medicinal part and is graded according to its source and age- older wild grown roots being the most valued.

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Constituents

  • Triterpene saponins
  • Aglycone-protopanaxadiol- including ginsenosides Ra1,2 & 3 and Rb1,2 & 3
  • Aglycone-protopanaxatriol- including ginsenosides Re, Rf and Rg1
  • Aglycone oleanolic acid- including ginsenoside Ro
  • Polysaccharides
  • Polyynes
  • Sterols including beta-sitosterol
  • Flavonoids

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Action/Effects

  • Anti-stress
  • Anti-fatigue
  • Immune stimulating (9, 12)
  • Promotes cell growth
  • Liver protector (8)
  • Inhibits platelet activating factor (7)
  • Antioxidant (13)

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Conditions used for

  • Stress (1)
  • Fatigue (2, 6)
  • Immune system enhancement (10)
  • Menopausal symptoms including vaginal dryness (3)
  • Male infertility (4, 11)
  • Possibly helpful for erectile dysfunction (5)
  • Possibly helpful to increase libido

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Dosage

  • Dry extract in capsules assayed for ginsenosides- amount to yield 5-25 mg of ginsenosides once or twice daily.
  • Liquid extract- 1-2 teaspoons once or twice a day
  • Dry in capsules- 1000-2000 mg once or twice a day
  • To avoid side effects, take for 2-3 weeks, followed by a 2 week break.

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Side Effects

  • Large long term doses may cause high blood pressure, nervousness, insomnia and diarrhea.

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Contraindications

  • High blood pressure

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Interactions with medications

  • Don’t take with anticoagulant medications like warfarin, or with digoxin, phenylzine, corticosteroids or estrogens (14)

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Use in pregnancy & lactation

  • Do not use in pregnancy or lactation.

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References

1. Fulder SJ, Ginseng and the hypothalamic-pituitary control of stress, Am J Chin Med 1981;9:112-8
2. Hallstrom C et al, Effect of ginseng on the performance of nurses on night duty, Comp Med East & West 1982;5:277-82
3. Punnonen R et al, Estrogen-like effect of ginseng, Br Med J 1980;281:1110
4. Chen JC et al, Effect of panax notoginseng extracts on inferior sperm motility in vitro, Am J Chin Med 1999;27(1):123-8
5. Choi YD et al, In vitro and in vivo experimental effect of Korean red ginseng on erection, J Urol 1999;162(4):1508-11
6. Wesnes KA et al, The cognitive, subjective, and physical effects of a ginkgo biloba/panax ginseng combination in healthy volunteers with neurasthenic complaints, Psychopharmacol Bull 1997;33(4):677-83
7. Jung KY et al, Platelet activating factor antagonist activity of ginsenosides, Biol Pharm Bull 1998;21(1):79-80
8. Kim HJ et al, Protection of rat liver microsomes against carbon tetrachloride-induced lipid peroxidation by red ginseng saponin through cytochrome P450 inhibition, Planta Med 1997;63(5):415-8
9. Lee YS et al, Activation of multiple effector pathways of immune system by the antineoplastic immunostimulator acidic polysaccharide ginsan isolated from Panax ginseng, Anticancer Res 1997;17(1A):323-31
10. See DM et al, In vitro effects of echinacea and ginseng on natural
killer and antibody-dependent cell cytotoxicity in healthy subjects and chronic fatigue syndrome or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome patients, Immunopharmacology 1997;35(3):229-35
11. Salvati G et al, Effects of Panax Ginseng C.A. Meyer saponins on male fertility, Panminerva Med 1996;38(4):249-54
12. Gao H et al, Immunostimulating polysaccharides from Panax notoginseng, Pharm Res 1996;13(8):1196-200
13. Zhang D et al, Ginseng extract scavenges hydroxyl radical and protects unsaturated fatty acids from decomposition caused by iron-mediated lipid peroxidation, Free Radic Biol Med 1996;20(1):145-50
14. Miller LG, Herbal medicinals: selected clinical considerations focusing on known or potential drug-herb interactions, Arch Intern Med 1998 Nov 9;158(20):2200-11.

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* The information presented in this web site is intended to inform and educate. It is not intended replace a qualified medical practitioner to diagnose or treat medical conditions.

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