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Ginseng

What is Ginseng?

Ginseng is any one of eleven species of slow growing perennial herb plants with fleshy roots, belonging to the genus Panax of the family Araliaceae.  Ginseng is found only in the Northern Hemisphere, in North America and in eastern Asia (mostly Korea, northern China, and eastern Siberia), typically in cooler climates. 

panax-ginseng-1.jpgGinseng is a plant characterized by a fleshy root and a single stalk with green oval-shaped leaves.  It is a perennial plant that can live more than ten centuries.  Panax Ginseng(Korean Ginseng) extract is typically derived from the root of this plant.  As an herbal supplement, the extract has long been prized for its reputation of having anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.  It is also used in the homeopathic treatment of conditions, including depression, stress, low libido, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).  Panax means "Cure-All" in Greek, sharing the same origin as "panacea", and was applied to this genus because Linnaeus was aware of its wide use in Chinese medicine as a muscle relaxant.

Studies have shown that Panax Ginseng extract can improve balance, help prevent diabetes, cure anemia, and strengthen the gastrointestinal system.  Research in Asia has also shown that Panax Ginseng extract can benefit people who have coughs, asthma, and tuberculosis.  Both the physical and mental effects of stress have been improved with the use of ginseng.  It was even found to decrease the effects of alcohol intake and subsequent hangovers.  Panax Ginseng extract is a common ingredient in Ginseng Extract, Ginseng Capsule, Ginseng Tablet, Ginseng Pill, Ginseng Powder, Energy Drinks, Ginseng Tea, Diet Aid and Cosmetics etc.  Other ginseng products include chewing gum, candy, deodorant, and hair gel etc.

There are several different types of Ginseng, including Korean ginseng, American ginseng, Chinese ginseng, and Tropical Snowflake ginseng.  The most popular of these is Korean Ginseng, which is also called Panax Ginseng.

Terms such as white ginseng, sun ginseng, and red ginseng actually refer to the ways that the ginseng root is processed. Fresh ginseng root may be peeled and dried in the sun, thereby giving it a whitish appearance. The resulting product is called white ginseng. Contrary to its name, sun ginseng is not dried in the sun; it is dried by steaming it at a high temperature.  Red ginseng, like sun ginseng, is also dried through steaming but at a lower temperature. 

panax-ginseng-3.jpgKorean Ginseng comes from the plant Panax Ginseng whose botanical name is derived from the Greek word panacea, meaning "cures everything" and the word Ginseng meaning "man-like"due to its appearance of some roots.  Panax Ginseng has been known as herbal medicines, called as "longevity grass", used in the Asian countries as a tonic, fatigue relief, preventing aging, improvement of circulation, protecting liver, etc. for thousands years.  When it comes to ginseng farming, Korea is generally evaluated to be suited best for cultivation of ginseng in term of climate, soil and other natural environment.

Ginseng is not all the same.  The Korean Ginseng species is Panax Ginseng C.A. Meyer. C.A. Meyer, a 18th century botanist, called it Panax Ginseng.  And Panax Ginseng is originated from Korea.  Panax Ginseng C.A. Meyer has been known as the only species with which lots of pharmacological trials have been carried out.

The main ingredient of ginseng which has pharmacological effects are the unique Saponin. The Saponin of ginseng is called "Ginsenoside". It is known that there are over 30 kinds.

It is also known that the Red Ginseng has several new saponins which are not included in the white ginseng. These new saponins are known to have strong pharmacological effects. "White Ginseng" is a naturally dried one. "Red Ginseng" is the one which is steam-heated for hours. It looks dark reddish brown.

There have been some Chinese old expressions showing pharmacological effects of ginseng. (Korean Ginseng Academy) They are as below :

1) Recover strength, saves health : Recovers the weak health. 2) Helps blood, restore pulse : Vitalizes blood formation and makes it circulate smoothly 3) Good heart, calm health : Calms the mind. 4) Life continues, relieves thirst : allots the body fluid and relieves thirst. 5) Supplements lung, good for respiratory : Strengthens the lung and is good for respiration. 6) Strengthens digestion : Strengthens the digestive organs.

 

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