Posted by Bangzkie Thursday, March 8, 2012
Ginseng is any one of eleven species of slow-growing perennial 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 (Manchuria), and eastern Siberia), typically in cooler climates. Panax vietnamensis, discovered in Vietnam, is the southernmost ginseng known. This article focuses on the Series Panax ginsengs, which are the adaptogenic herbs, principally Panax ginseng and P. quinquefolius. Ginseng is characterized by the presence of ginsenosides.
Both American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) and Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng) roots are taken orally as adaptogens, aphrodisiacs, nourishing stimulants,and in the treatment of type II diabetes, as well as for sexual dysfunction in men. The root is most often available in dried form, either whole or sliced. Ginseng leaf, although not as highly prized, is sometimes also used; as with the root, it is most often available in dried form.This ingredient may also be found in some energy drinks, often the "tea" varieties; in these products, ginseng is usually present in subclinical doses and does not have measurable medicinal effects.It can be found in cosmetic preparations as well, but has not been shown to have clinically effective results.
Ginsenosides are the active compounds that distinguish the Panax species. However, even though the root of the ginseng plant is the most valued form, it is the leaves that contain the highest amounts of ginsenosides. Therefore, the measure of potency and purity for ginseng root products by the levels of leaf ginsenosides is a poor determinant. There are many manufacturers of ginseng products who, knowingly or unknowingly, actually use counterfeit products or ginseng leaves instead of roots. Herbal companies who follow Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) regularly test for the quality, potency, and species authentication of herbs using cross-sectional microscopic examination, thin layer chromatography, and high pressure liquid chromatography (HPLC). One study found HPLC is especially useful in the differentiation and authentication of Panax ginseng from Panax quinquefolius due to the unambiguous distinction of slightly varying isotypes of ginsenoside compounds.Ginseng is noted for being an adaptogen, one which can, to a certain extent, be supported with reference to its anticarcinogenic and antioxidant properties Some studies have found no adaptogen responses in animal studies (Survival test on mice swimming).