Panax ginseng

Panax ginsengCommon name:  Asian or Korean ginseng

Parts used:  Root


  • Steroidal and triterpenoid saponins (ginsenosides, ginpanaxosides & protopanaxatriol)
  • Polysaccharides (glycans)
  • Acetylenic alcohols (panaxynol and panaxydol) & polyacetylenes (ginsenoynes A-K)
  • Sesquiterpenes (B-elemene, panasinsanol A and B, ginsenol)
  • Phytosterols
  • Flavonoids
  • Amino acids

Medicinal actions:  Adaptogen, general stimulant & tonic, nervine stimulant, hypoglycemic, analgesic, antioxidant, immuno-modulator, hepatoprotective, cardiotonic, vasodilator, anti-cholesterol, demulcent, aphrodisiac, diuretic, antispasmodic

Medicinal use: Ginseng is used to improve mental & physical stamina and performance as well as promote longevity. It promotes metabolism and growth of normal cells and acclerates development of both the brain and body. Increases muscle mass and resistance to biological, chemical and physical stress. In women, ginseng promotes an estrogenic effect, and in men can enhance fertility and especially low libido.


  • Steroidal saponins (ginsenosides, ginpanaxosides) have corticosteroid-like action and inhibit re-uptake of GABA, NE, dopamine, gluatmate, and serotonin.
  • The individual ginsenosides may have opposite effects such as vasoconstriction & dilation, increase & decrease cardiac performance, hemostatic & anti-coagulant, and CNS stimulant & depressant.
  • Polysaccharides are hypoglycemic and anti-tumor.

Pharmacy:  Dried root: short-term 0.5-2g QD, long-term 0.4-0.8 QD (100 mg capsule standardized to 4-7% ginsenosides: 100-200 mg daily). Decoction: 1 tsp/cup, simmer 10 min TID. Tincture: (1:5, 60%), 1-2 ml TID.  Pause dosing 6 week on 4 weeks off, avoid long-term use unless in low doses.

Toxicity: No adverse effects expected. Overdose can cause palpitations, insomnia, chest pain, headaches and epistaxis. Possible adverse reactions include allergic reaction, CNS, cardiovascular, and endocrine disturbances. Note: Reports on side effects are controversial due to lack of information on the type of ginseng used in studies.

Contraindications:  Acute asthma, hypertension, acute infections, ADHD. Use caution with acute infection and inflammatory diseases, in hyper-tense people and in children.

Interactions: Avoid use with other stimulants (e.g caffeine). Theoretically with anti-psychotics, MAOIs, anti-hypertensives, anti-coagulants and other hormone therapies.

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