Ginseng is a small woodland plant indigenous to the
mountain forests of Asia from Nepal to Manchuria, and is cultivated primarily
in Korea. The plant has a perennial root which annually produces a smooth,
round stem that reaches one foot in height. The stem terminates by dividing
into two to three stalked compound leaves which consists of five to seven
petiolate, oblong-ovate, serrate leaflets. A solitary, simple umbel of
greenish-yellow flowers grows from the top of the stem blooming from June to
August. The fruit is a red, kidney-shaped berry. The medicinal part is the
Other common names:
Asiatic Ginger, Wander-of-the-world, Chinese Ginseng
| Fatty Acids
| Volatile Oils
* For definition of some of the above terms
see the dictionary section of this book.
| Nicotinic Acid
| B Complex Vitamins
PROPERTIES AND USES
Demulcent - an agent which smooths the mucous
membranes on contact.
Panacea - a remedy for all diseases.
Stimulant - an agent that temporarily increases
activity or physiological processes. Stimulants may be classified according to
the organ upon which they act; for example, an intestinal stimulant is that
which stimulates the intestines.
Stomachic - a substance which excites, strengthens
and tones the stomach.
Ginseng is called the "King of the Herbs" in the Orient.
It is a general stimulant which helps the body overcome stress and fatigue,
both physical and mental, to improve work capacity. Considered a panacea, it is
used to normalize blood pressure, reduce blood cholesterol, and prevent
atherosclerosis. It acts as an antidote to various depressant drugs and toxic
chemicals, and is said to protect the body from the effects of radiation
sickness. Claims are made that ginseng improves vision and hearing, checks
irritability, and improves composure. In China it is used as a preventative
tonic and is thought to slow the aging process. The constituents of ginseng
will alter carbohydrate and albumin metabolism, lower liver glycogen content,
and promote the biosynthesis of cholesterol, lipid, RNA, DNA, and protein.
Some members of the ginseng saponins produce effects
directly opposite those produced by others, and under certain conditions
ginseng acts in opposite directions. The type of food consumed influences the
behavior of ginseng saponins on liver glycogen. Excess fat, protein and
carbohydrates correspondingly decrease or abolish liver glycogen production.
Fasting or lack of food enhance the saponins' effects on liver glycogen
Siberian Ginseng works by regulating energy, nucleic acid
and protein metabolism in your tissues. Under stress, a complex substance is
generated in your blood. This complex inhibits energy-giving substances from
entering cell membranes and also interferes with normal cell activity. Siberian
Ginseng contains substances that disrupt this negative process, decreasing the
competition and minimizing the deleterious effects of the "bad guys" - the
stress-released complex. Now your cells can function normally, despite the
Siberian Ginseng allows muscles to release less glycogen,
and also preserves other substances which diminish energy. At the same time,
mobilization of lipids is accelerated. If all this is confusing, suffice it to
say that the data suggest that the regulation of energy underlies the
biological action of Siberian Ginseng. Since any functional activity requires
high expenditure of energy, it is the ability of Siberian Ginseng to oversee,
guard and control these important energy processes that is the scientific basis
of its wide biological range of action.
Here's an example. If you jog for 15 minutes, the
activity provokes an inhibition of RNA activity by 50 percent because of
competition for energy between the RNA reactions and muscle activity. Siberian
Ginseng doubles the process of recovery, thereby normalizing the biosynthesis
of nucleic acids more rapidly. In other words, Siberian Ginseng helps to
normalize cell activity.
The exceptional quality of Siberian Ginseng to normalize
deviations from the norm is attributed to its active principles, glycosides.
Glycosides act as drugs, increasing the general nonspecific resistance to
diverse chemical, physical, and biological factors.
Ginseng does not combine well with certain herbs. Black
Hellebore, for instance, in as small an amount as one tenth of an ounce, can
destroy the functional properties of an ounce of ginseng. One study conducted
at the University of California Los Angeles School of Medicine suggested that
subjects who took ginseng orally suffered from hypertension, nervousness,
sleeplessness, skin eruptions, and morning diarrhea. All subjects also used
caffeinated beverages as well. Ginseng caused leukocytosis and erythrocytosis
in rabbits, but there is no evidence of such effects in humans.
DRUG PRECAUTIONS AND
A mixture containing astragalia radix, cinnamon, peony,
cnidii rhioma, angelical root, Ginseng Root, and licorice root was shown to
enhance antitumor activity and decrease toxicity of mitomycin C.
The adrenocortical or corticosteroidal action of ginseng
may be antagonized by the use of heparin, while the adrenocortical
responsiveness to ginseng may be impaired by the use of aphotericin B.
In addition the anti-inflammatory activity of ginseng can
be seriously inhibited by phenobarbital and certain other sedatives and
hypnotics, such as chloral hydrate and meprobamate. This is also true of
beta-adrenergic blocking agents, such as propranolol.
To the extent that ginseng's action depends on the
presence of cholinergic substances, it will be affected by the decrease in
cholinergic-receptor stimulation produced by anticholinergics.
In the absence of other hard data, it may still be
assumed that observable interactions may occur between the many central nervous
system drugs and the psychoactive principles in ginseng.