Panax ginseng, Panax quinquefolius (American ginseng, an endangered species), Panax repens. Family: Araliaceae
American ginseng, Chinese ginseng, Korean ginseng, man-root, Schinsent
Ginseng is one of the most popular and expensive herbs in the world. A common name for ginseng, "man-root," because of its humanoid appearance, implies that it has benefits for the whole body. The medicinal part consists of the dried main and lateral root and root hairs.
Ginseng commonly refers to Panax quinquefolius L. (American ginseng) or Panax ginseng C.A. Meyer (Korean ginseng). Siberian Ginseng is derived from a slightly different family than Panax and is referred to as Eleutherocossus Senticosus Maxim. Both families of ginseng share similar chemical constituents. Panax ginseng contains saponin glycosides that are also known as ginsenosides, whereas Siberian ginseng does not contain ginsenosides but another class of compounds called eleutherosides. In all cases, they are referred to as adaptogens. They stimulate the immune system, decrease the detrimental effects of stress on the body and restore energy and vitality.
Medically Valid Uses:
Animal studies have demonstrated that ginseng improves stamina. There are no clearly established uses for ginseng in humans.
Please note that this section reports on claims that have NOT yet been substantiated through scientific studies.
Ginseng has been claimed to possibly improve immune function, improve physical and mental performance, raise low blood pressure to a normal level, strengthen the adrenal and reproductive glands and speed convalescence. Ginseng possibly acts as an adaptogen (improves the body's ability to adapt to stressful situations), anti-depressant and vasodilator (widens blood vessels, which lowers blood pressure). Ginseng may help ease withdrawal from cocaine, protect against the effects of radiation exposure, prevent heart disease and inhibit blood coagulation.
Unless otherwise directed on the label, ginseng may be taken in doses of 1 to 2 grams of root or equivalent preparations three to four times a day, over three to four weeks.
Ginseng can be found in the form of tea, dried herbs, powder or capsules.
Side Effects, Toxicity and Interactions:
Occasionally, the use of ginseng causes headaches, rapid heartbeat or hypertension.
Women who are pregnant or breast-feeding should consult a physician before taking any herbal medicines. Heavy use of ginseng by pregnant women has been associated with excessive body hair on the newborn infant. Children also should use ginseng only with a physician's recommendation.
Do not use ginseng if you suffer from hypoglycemia, high blood pressure or heart disorders.
There are no known significant food or drug interactions. As ginseng can act as a mild stimulant, it may be prudent to avoid combining it with use of other stimulants.
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