Ginseng (Asian)


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Overview

Ginseng is a slow growing perennial plant with fleshy roots, belonging to the Panax genus in the Araliaceae family. This herbal root has a well known reputation for as one of the finest aphrodisiacs in the world. Ginseng has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for over two thousand years. The name ginseng refers to both American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) and Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng). It is important to not confuse Siberian ginseng and eleuthero (Eleutherococcus senticosus) as part of the Panax family because it does not contain the same active ingredients as Asian and American ginseng, it is a cheap ginseng alternative. Panax ginseng is a plant and it is the root that people use for herbal medicine.

Characteristics

Ginseng is a straight stem with a circle of leaves that has yellow flowers and red berries located at the center of the plant. The root of the ginseng plant contains medicinally active compounds called ginsenosides that are similar to steroid hormones. Wild ginseng roots are usually split, with a long neck showing growth rings, usually colored dark tan. The roots of cultivated ginseng plants are larger and fatter than wild ones, not forked, and lighter in color with a smooth appearance. It has a taproot shaped as a human's body, specifically a shape that looks like two legs and two arms. Researchers can estimate a ginseng's age by the wrinkles it has around it's neck.

Treatment

Traditionally Asian ginseng has been used has an herbal remedy for loss of appetite, improving mental and physical performance, to act as an aphrodisiac, to aid with gastric disturbances and vomiting as well as lowering blood glucose, and controlling blood pressure. Panax ginseng is often referred to as an over all well being medication because of how many systems in the body it affects such as stress and also cardiovascular.

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Uses

In todays society it is estimated that six million people use ginseng regularly. The root of both American and Asian ginseng contain chemical components called ginsenosides, saponins that are ginseng's active ingredients. In addition to ginsenosides, Asian ginseng also contains glycans (panaxans), polysaccharide fraction DPG-3-2, peptides, maltol, B vitamins, flavonoids, and volatile oil. The ginseng root is typically dried and used to make various tablets, capsules, extracts and teas. Today, ginseng has become a common ingredient in many health and energy beverages such as Monster, Red bull and also Vitamin water. Ginseng is not recommended for children as the herb is a time-honored approach to help with the treatments listed above. It is best to take Asian ginseng with food.

Top 5 Ginseng Use

Side Effects

Ginseng can sometimes contain ingredients that can trigger side effects when taken with other herbs, supplements or medication. For example, if ginseng is taken with caffeine, it can cause nervousness or sleeplessness. Other possible side effects include insomnia, headaches, upset stomach, breast pain, vaginal bleeding, increased heart rate, diarrhea, and vertigo. It is not recommended for those who bipolar, have an autoimmune disease and/or pregnant women. It can also be unsafe if taken for periods of three months or longer. Panax ginseng is likely unsafe for use in infants and children.


Geographic Distribution:

external image current.png external image ginseng1.jpg Ginseng originated in China but it's cultivation spread throughout Asia in countries like Korea, Japan and Vietnam. Today, it is also grown in the United States and Canada. Ginseng takes between six to ten years to fully mature. It can be grown from seeds, seedlings, or roots. Shade is essential in growing ginseng, preferably 70-80% shade in very hot regions in hardwood forests with lots of trees and very minimal undergrowth.




Sources:

  1. Asian Ginseng (GINSENG, PANAX): Uses, Side Effects, Interactions and Warnings - WebMD. (n.d.). WebMD - Better information. Better health.. Retrieved January 10, 2012, from http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-1000-Asian%20Ginseng%20(GINSENG,%20PANAX).aspx?activeIngredientId=1000&activeIngredientName=Asian%20Ginseng%20(GINSENG,%20PANAX)
  2. Asian ginseng. (n.d.). University of Maryland Medical Center | Home. Retrieved January 9, 2012, from http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/asian-ginseng-000249.htm
  3. Ginseng Benefits. (2011, February 13). Ginseng Benefits. Retrieved January 9, 2012, from http://www.ginsengbenefits.co/
  4. Growing Your Own Ginseng. (n.d.).Essortment Articles: Free Online Articles on Health, Science, Education & More.... Retrieved January 11, 2012, from http://www.essortment.com/growing-own-ginseng-53535.html
  5. Janine, A. (n.d.). Facts About The Ginseng Plant | LIVESTRONG.COM.LIVESTRONG.COM - Lose Weight & Get Fit with Diet, Nutrition & Fitness Tools | LIVESTRONG.COM. Retrieved January 9, 2012, from http://www.livestrong.com/article/242789-facts-about-the-ginseng-plant/