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(Panax Ginseng)

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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 root.

Other common names:

Asiatic Ginger, Wander-of-the-world, Chinese Ginseng


 Carbohydrates  Caryophyllene  Farnesene
 Fatty Acids  Fructose  Glucose
 Hormones  Humulene  Maltose
 Pectin  Polyacetylenes  Saponins
 Starch  Sterols  Sucrose
 Volatile Oils    

* For definition of some of the above terms see the dictionary section of this book.


 Biotin  Calcium  Choline
 Copper  Iron  Manganese
 Nicotinic Acid  UFA  Zinc
 B Complex Vitamins    

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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 production.

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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 stress.

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.

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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.


Known Interactions

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.

Possible Interactions

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.

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