Other names: Sang, Wonder of the World Root, Aralia ginseng,Panax chin-seng, Panax verus,
Side effects include inability to fall asleep, increase in heart rate and blood pressure. Overuse or prolonged use may cause over stimulation (diarrhoea, nervousness, skin eruption). Caution with other stimulants needed. Avoid in patients with psychosis and manic disorders. Not recommended during pregnancy and breast feeding
Habitat: Panax Ginseng is native to China and cultivated extensively in China, Korea, Japan and Russia. Panax Ginseng is better for males. Panax quinquefolia is native to North America.
Ginseng has a history of use as a medicinal herb going back over 5,000 years. It is one of the most highly regarded of herbal medicines in the Orient, where it has gained an almost magical reputation for being able to promote health, general body vigour and also to prolong life. The root is adaptogen, alterative, carminative, demulcent, emetic, expectorant, stimulant and tonic. It both stimulates and relaxes the nervous system, encourages the secretion of hormones, improves stamina, lowers blood sugar and cholesterol levels and increases resistance to disease. It is used internally in the treatment of debility associated with old age or illness, lack of appetite, insomnia, stress, shock and chronic illness. Ginseng is not normally prescribed for pregnant women, or for patients under the age of 40, or those with depression, acute anxiety or acute inflammatory disease. It is normally only taken for a period of 3 weeks. Excess can cause headaches, restlessness, raised blood pressure and other side effects, especially if it is taken with caffeine, alcohol, turnips and bitter or spicy foods. A dose of 10ug/ml of ginseng saponins has been shown to be significantly radio-protective when it is administered prior to gamma-irradiation. The leaf is emetic and expectorant. The German Commission E Monographs, a therapeutic guide to herbal medicine, approve Panax ginseng for lack of stamina.
Description of Ginseng:
Panax ginseng is a PERENNIAL growing to 0.8 m (2ft 7in) by 0.7 m (2ft 4in).
It is hardy to zone 6. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs)
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in full shade (deep woodland) or semi-shade (light woodland). It prefers moist soil.
Cultivation of Ginseng:
Requires a moist humus rich soil in a shady position in a woodland. Ginseng is widely cultivated and also collected from the wild in the Orient for its root which is commonly used as a medicine. The root is prepared in a number of different ways, including by steaming it for 4 hours in wicker baskets over boiling water.
Propagation of Ginseng:
Seed – sow in a shady position in a cold frame preferably as soon as it is ripe, otherwise as soon as the seed is obtained. It can be very slow and erratic to germinate. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in a shady position in the greenhouse or frame for at least their first winter. Make sure the pots are deep enough to accommodate the roots. Plant out into their permanent positions in late summer. Division in spring.
Collection of Ginseng:
The roots are harvested in the autumn, preferably from plants 6 – 7 years old, and can be used fresh or dried.
Culinary uses of Ginseng:
Edible Parts: Root.
Edible Uses: Tea.
Root – chewed. This probably refers to its medicinal uses. A tea is made from the root.
Actions: Adaptogen, Tonic, Stimulant, Hypoglycaemic.
Part Used: Root.
Indications: Ginseng has an ancient history and as such has accumulated much folklore about its actions and uses. The genus name Panax derives from the latin panacea meaning `cure all‘. Many of the claims that surround it are, unfortunately, exaggerated but it is clear that this is an important remedy. A powerful adaptogen, it has a wide range of possible therapeutic uses. The best therapeutic application is with weak or elderly people, where the adaptogenic and stimulating properties are can be profoundly useful. It should not be used indiscriminately as the stimulating properties can be contra-indicated in some pathologies, for example Chinese herbalism warns about Ginseng being used in acute inflammatory disease and bronchitis.
Ellingwood describes the eclectic use of Panax thus: “It is a mild sedative and tonic to the nerve centers, improving their tone, if persisted in, and increasing the capillary circulation of the brain. It is given in cerebral anaemia, and if combined with other tonics is capable of doing some good. It is also prescribed in the failure of digestion incident to nervous prostration and general nerve irritation.”
Preparations & Dosage:
The root is often chewed or a decoction may be made. Put 1/2 teaspoonful of the powdered root in a cup of water, bring to the boil and simmer gently for 10 minutes. This should be drunk three times a day.
Other uses of Ginseng:
Esoteric uses of Ginseng.:
Magickal uses include love, beauty, protection, healing and lust. Carry to draw love, health, money, and sexual potency. Carve a wish into a whole root and throw it into water to make the wish come true.
- Saponin glycosides. These are referred to as the ginsenosides by Japanese & panaxosides by Russian workers. At least l3 ginsenosides jave been isolated; these are designated ginsenosides Ra, Rb, Rg-l, Rg-2 etc.
- Glycans; the panaxans A-E, isolated only so far from P. ginseng.
- Volatile oil, containing b-elemene, a diene panaxynol, and two acetylenic compounds, panaxydol and panaxytriol, falcarinol and falcarintriol.