Panax Ginseng Asian


Panax Ginseng Introduction

Panax ginseng has many alternate names, including; Asian ginseng, Chinese ginseng, Hong Shen, Japanese ginseng, Korean ginseng, Korean Panax, Korean red ginseng, Red ginseng and White ginseng. Please note: American and Siberian ginseng are completely different herbal preparations.

Panax ginseng has been used medicinally for roughly two thousand years, and continues to be one of the most popularly used herbal medicines today (it is thought that roughly 6 million Americans use this herb on a regular basis). Although ginseng is thought of and promoted as a stimulant herb, the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) approach employed ginseng as a calming herb. Today in modern China , ginseng is often employed for cardiovascular conditions. The difference in usage may be in direct relation to the higher doses used in the U.S., in comparison to the dose used in TCM. [1]

Interestingly, the age of the roots from which supplemental forms of Panax ginseng are made, are considered highly important among traditional users of the herb. A four hundred year old root was reportedly sold in 1976 for $10,000 per ounce in China! The names ‘red’ ginseng and ‘white’ ginseng are used to describe a specific preparation of the root. Red ginseng is prepared by steaming the root under high pressure and temperature. The method of preparation for white ginseng actually increases the number of ginsenosides (active constituents of the herb) by many fold; which is different than the red ginseng preparatory process. [2]

Panax Ginseng Uses

Parts Used

The only medicinal portion of Panax ginseng used is the root. The root contains several active compounds, known as either ginsenoside or panaxosides. Asian scientists developed the term ginsenosides. Russian scientists coined the term panaxosides. Regardless, the terms are meant to encompass the many active constituents found in the root. [3]

Panax Ginseng Uses

Panax ginseng is included in a very unique grouping of herbal medicines known as “adaptogens.” Other herbs considered adaptogens: Ginseng (Asian and Siberian), Licorice, Rehmannia, Schizandra, Codonopsis, Atractylodes, Astragalus, Gotu Kola, Aswagandha, and Reishi. Adaptogens allow organisms to increase resistance (non-specifically) to a variety of chemical, physical, and biological stressors. In other words, taking adaptogens like Panax ginseng will allow for increased adaptive abilities to stressors, regardless of form.

Among some of the uses for Panax include; stimulation of immune function, a tonic for improved well-being, physical stamina, and work efficiency. Panax has been used to enhance cognitive function, concentration, and memory abilities as well. Used as an adaptogen, Panax ginseng may provide general protection against a variety of stressors, all of which have a cumulative effect on the body and health.

For combating stress, Panax can affect the neurologic hormonal axis (hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis) and can increase blood levels of the stress hormone cortisol and boost adrenal gland function. [4, 5] There is some evidence that taking Panax may elevate androgen hormone precursors (dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEA-S) levels in menopausal women. [6] However, more research is needed to support these initial findings.

Panax ginseng may be equally useful in treating high cholesterol and triglyceride levels by increasing metabolism of these potential energy sources in the body. [7]

There is much evidence surrounding the immune-boosting effects of Panax ginseng. It is widely thought to have anti-cancer properties, specifically by stimulating natural killer cell activity and by exerting antitumor effects. [8] These are among the few abilities of Panax at fighting cancer; although several other detailed effects exist relating Panax to cancer treatment in the literature. [9-11]

One interesting study looked at the efficacy of Panax ginseng in fighting off the flu, coupled with flu vaccination. The study subjects took 100 milligrams of the root once per day for 4 weeks before getting vaccinated, and 8 weeks afterwards. A reduction in flu and cold incidence was noted in subjects taking Panax during the study period. [12]

Panax Ginseng Dosages

Typically, Panax ginseng is dosed at 100 milligrams, one to three times per day. [13, 14]

Panax Ginseng Toxicities and Contraindications

Side effects: Adverse effects are limited with Panax use, with insomnia being the most reported problem. Some individuals have reported vaginal bleeding, rapid heart rate and palpitations, high blood pressure, low blood pressure, headaches, euphoriak, and loss of appetite. [15]

General interactions (supplement, herb, food, lab): Theoretically, use of Panax ginseng with any type of stimulant, whether food, herbal, supplemental or medicinal, may lead to excessive stimulant effects.

Panax ginseng may also lower blood sugar levels; therefore diabetics or those prone to hypoglycemia should use caution when using this herb. [16] Similarly, caution should be used when taking this herb with other supplements that may lower blood sugar, due to possible additive effects.

Drug interactions: As mentioned previously, taking this herb with diabetes drugs may be problematic because of additive effects. As well, the administration of Panax while under immunosuppressive therapy may be counterproductive due to the immune-boosting effects of the herb.

Disease conditions:

  • Cardiac: Panax may negatively affect certain cardiac conditions; leading to alterations in blood pressure, while affecting the conduction timing at initial use. However, these changes have not been noted after continued use of the herb. [17]
  • Diabetics: Panax may lower blood sugar, requiring further adjustment in diabetic medications.
  • Insomnia: Large doses of Panax may worsen insomnia. [18] In addition, Panax may worsen symptoms of insomnia and agitation in schizophrenic patients. [18]
  • Hormone-related conditions: Ginseng may have estrogen-like effects in the body and may therefore complicate hormone sensitive conditions such as cancers, endometriosis and fibroids. [19, 20]


1. Dharmananda S. The nature of ginseng: traditional use, modern use, and the question of dosage. Herbalgram 2002;54:34-51.

2. Keum YS, Park KK, Lee JM, et al. Antioxidant and anti-tumor promoting activities of the methanol extract of heat-processed ginseng. Cancer Lett 2000;150:41-8.

3. Leung AY, Foster S. Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients Used in Food, Drugs and Cosmetics. 2nd ed. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons, 1996.

4. Hiai S, Yokoyama H, Oura H, et al. Stimulation of pituitary-adrenocortical system by ginseng saponin. Endocrinol Jpn 1979;26:661-5.

5. Robbers JE, Speedie MK, Tyler VE. Pharmacognosy and Pharmacobiotechnology. Baltimore, MD: Williams & Wilkins, 1996.

6. Tode T, Kikuchi Y, Hirata J, et al. Effect of Korean red ginseng on psychological functions in patients with severe climacteric syndromes. Int J Gynaecol Obstet 1999;67:169-74.

7. Kim SH, Park KS. Effects of Panax ginseng extract on lipid metabolism in humans. Pharmacol Res 2003;48:511-3.

8. Shin HR, Kim JY, Yun TK, et al. The cancer-preventive potential of Panax ginseng: a review of human and experimental evidence. Cancer Causes Control 2000;11:565-76.

9. Keum YS, Park KK, Lee JM, et al. Antioxidant and anti-tumor promoting activities of the methanol extract of heat-processed ginseng. Cancer Lett 2000;150:41-8.

10. Kim YK, Guo Q, Packer L. Free radical scavenging activity of red ginseng aqueous extracts. Toxicology 2002;172:149-56.

11. Moon J, Yu SJ, Kim HS, Sohn J. Induction of G(1) cell cycle arrest and p27(KIP1) increase by panaxydol isolated from Panax ginseng. Biochem Pharmacol 2000;59:1109-16.

12. Scaglione F, Cattaneo G, Alessandria M, Cogo R. Efficacy and safety of the standardized Ginseng extract G115 for potentiating vaccination against the influenza syndrome and protection against the common cold. Drugs Exp Clin Res 1996;22:65-72.

13. Scaglione F, Weiser K, Alessandria M. Effects of the standardized ginseng extract G115 (Reg.) in patients with chronic bronchitis: A nonblinded, randomized, comparative pilot study. Clin Drug Invest 2001;21:41-5.

14. Hong B, Ji YH, Hong JH, et al. A double-blind crossover study evaluating the efficacy of Korean red ginseng in patients with erectile dysfunction: a preliminary report. J Urol 2002;168:2070-3.

15. Gonzalez-Seijo JC, Ramos YM, Lastra I. Manic episode and ginseng: Report of a possible case. J Clin Psychopharmacol 1995;15:447-8.

16. Sotaniemi EA, Haapakoski E, Rautio A. Ginseng therapy in non-insulin dependent diabetic patients. Diabetes Care 1995;18:1373-5.

17. Caron MF, Hotsko AL, Robertson S, et al. Electrocardiographic and hemodynamic effects of Panax ginseng. Ann Pharmacother 2002;36:758-63.

18. Brown R. Potential interactions of herbal medicines with antipsychotics, antidepressants and hypnotics. Eur J Herbal Med 1997;3:25-8. 18 Ibid

19. Lee YJ, Jin YR, Lim WC, et al. Ginsenoside-Rb1 acts as a weak phytoestrogen in MCF-7 human breast cancer cells. Arch Pharm Res 2003;26:58-63.

20. Eagon PK, Elm MS, Hunter DS, et al. Medicinal herbs: modulation of estrogen action. Era of Hope Mtg, Dept Defense; Breast Cancer Res Prog, Atlanta, GA 2000;Jun 8-11.


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