Chinese ginseng is often mocked, but the root has retained respect in China for centuries as a remedy for improving health after illness, in old age, for general weakness, and for stress. It is also considered useful for improving stamina over short periods. However, it should not be overused.
Ginseng is one of the best known Chinese herbs. Its common name comes from the Chinese, renshen, meaning man root, after the shape of its thick taproot. The almost magical properties ascribed to ginseng in the West, together with the high price of the best quality herb, have led to much poor quality and diluted ginseng being sold to the public. Korean ginseng is said to be stronger than the Chinese variety. American ginseng, P. quinquefolium, lacks some of the key properties of the oriental species, while Eleutherococcus senticosus, or Siberian ginseng, which grows in Russia, has been shown to have similar properties to the oriental types although it is not a ginseng itself. A perennial with a divided taproot, oriental ginseng has palm-shaped leaves and small greenish flowers in late summer.
Saponin glycosides known as ginsenosides; glycosides;
; volatile oil.
Both stimulant and relaxant on central nervous system; adrenalin-like; improves muscle stamina; heart tonic; lowers blood glucose levels; helps the body adapt to stress.
Given for debilitated states, particularly after illness or in old age. It is also considered useful for improving concentration and stamina over short periods, and for improving the body's response to stress. The Chinese use ginseng for lack of appetite, forgetfulness, worry, palpitations, insomnia, sweating, and general weakness.
Powdered root, tablets.
Should not be used for more than three weeks by the fit and active and should not be taken when there is acute inflammatory disease, or for depression and anxiety.