Panax ginseng is a plant that grows in Korea, northeastern China, and far eastern Siberia. People use the root to make medicine. Do not confuse Panax ginseng with American ginseng, Siberian ginseng, or Panax pseudoginseng. See the separate listings for American Ginseng, Ashwaganda, Blue Cohosh, Canaigre, Codonopsis, Panax Pseudoginseng, and Siberian Ginseng.
The herbal remedies referred to as “ginseng” are derived from the roots of several plants. One of the most commonly used and researched of the ginsengs is Panax ginseng, also called Asian or Korean ginseng. The main active components of Panax ginseng are ginsenosides, which have been shown to have a variety of beneficial effects, including anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anticancer effects. Results of clinical research studies demonstrate that Panax ginseng may improve psychologic function, immune function, and conditions associated with diabetes. Overall, Panax ginseng appears to be well tolerated, although caution is advised about concomitant use with some pharmaceuticals, such as warfarin, oral hypoglycemic agents, insulin, and phenelzine. Panax ginseng does not appear to enhance physical performance. Products with a standardized ginsenoside concentration are available.
Herbal remedies known as “ginseng” are based on the roots of several distinct species of plants, mainly Korean or Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng), Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus), and American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius). All of these species are in the Araliaceae plant family, but each has its own specific effects on the body. Panax ginseng is also used for bleeding disorders, loss of appetite, vomiting, intestinal problems, gallstones, bad breath, fibromyalgia, sleeping problems (insomnia), nerve pain, joint pain, dizziness, headache, hearing loss, convulsions, disorders of pregnancy and childbirth, hot flashes due to menopause, common cold and flu, heart failure, high blood pressure, quality of life, wrinkled skin, and to slow the aging process.
Ginseng products are popularly referred to as “tonics,” a term that has been replaced by “adaptogens” in much of the alternative medicine literature. The term “adaptogen” connotes an agent that purportedly “increases resistance to physical, chemical, and biological stress and builds up general vitality, including the physical and mental capacity for work.”1(p236) Over-the-counter Panax ginseng products include Celestial Seasonings Ginseng, Centrum Herbals Ginseng, Korean Ginseng Extract from Nature’s Way, Nature Made’s Chinese Red Panax Ginseng, Pharmaton’s Ginsana, and PhytoPharmica’s Ginseng Phytosome.
Panax ginseng is one of the most commonly used and highly researched species of ginseng. This species, which is native to China, Korea, and Russia, has been an important herbal remedy in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years, where it has been used primarily as a treatment for weakness and fatigue
How does it work?
Panax ginseng contains many active substances. The substances thought to be most important are called ginsenosides or panaxosides. Ginsenosides is the term coined by Asian researchers, and the term panaxosides was chosen by early Russian researchers.
Panax ginseng is often referred to as a general well-being medication, because it affects many different systems of the body.