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  1. Almond
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  9. Bamboo shoot
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  30. Cashew
  31. Cauliflower
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  35. Chestnut
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  43. Coriander
  44. Couscous
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  48. Date
  49. Dill
  50. Fennel
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  52. Fig
  53. Garden cress
  54. Garlic
  55. Ginger
  56. Ginseng
  57. Globe Artichoke
  58. Gooseberry
  59. Grape
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  63. Haricot bean
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  65. Juniper
  66. Kentucky coffeetree
  67. Khaki
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  69. Kumquat
  70. Leek
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  76. Lupin
  77. Lychee
  78. Macadamia
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  90. Opium poppy
  91. Orange
  92. Oregano
  93. Parsley
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  120. Runner bean
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  125. Shallot
  126. Sinapis
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  142. Vanilla
  143. Vicia faba
  144. Walnut
  145. Watercress
  146. Watermelon
  147. Wheat
  148. Wild rice
  149. Zucchini


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This article is from:

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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Panax is a genus of about five or six species of slow-growing perennial plants with fleshy roots, in the family Araliaceae. They grow in the Northern Hemisphere in eastern Asia (mostly Korea, northern China, and eastern Siberia) and North America, typically in cooler climates; Panax vietnamensis, discovered in Vietnam, is the southernmost ginseng found. Ginseng is characterized by the presence of ginsenosides.

Siberian Ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus) is not considered a true ginseng; instead of a fleshy root, it has a woody root; instead of ginsenosides, eleutherosides are present.


The English word ginseng derives from the Chinese term rénshēn (simplified: 人参; traditional: 人蔘), literally "man root" (referring to the root's characteristic forked shape, resembling the legs of a man). The difference between rénshēn and "ginseng" is explained by the fact that the English pronunciation derives from a Japanese reading of these Chinese characters.

The botanical name Panax means "all-heal" in Greek, and was applied to this genus because Linnaeus was aware of its wide use in Chinese medicine.


Rénshēn was originally the common name for several plants valued for their medicinal properties, but it is most specifically associated with genus Panax. Its use can be traced in Chinese herbals from around AD 600; although herbals of that date do not survive in full, they are quoted in the later manual Bencao gangmu by Li Shizhen. At that early date rénshēn (evidently Panax ginseng) was a trade and tribute item imported from Manchuria to China.[1] Claims that Chinese use of ginseng goes back 3,000, 5,000, 7,000 or 10,000 years are sometimes made, but they are entirely speculative.

American ginseng, Panax quinquefolius, has been used by native peoples of central and eastern North America for at least 290 years (probably for much longer, but this, again, is speculative). It was especially familiar to speakers of Iroquoian and Algonquian languages.

Because of increasing scarcity in east Asia, cultivation of Panax ginseng was developed in Korea around 1700, but cultivation is not easy. Panax quinquefolius began to be systematically harvested for commercial export to China in the early 18th century. This in due course led to shortage in North America also, and commercial cultivation of Panax quinquefolius was developed in the United States in the mid 19th century.

A wide variety of ginseng is generally available in many Chinese or Korean herbal medicine shops and ethnic Chinese/Korean supermarkets, but details must be studied carefully as several other plants are misleadingly called "ginseng".

In the serious trade, wild Panax ginseng from China,like Wild Chang Bai Mountain Ginseng, is hard to get and fetches very high prices ; next comes cultivated Panax ginseng from China or Korea, followed by the much cheaper cultivated Panax quinquefolius from Illinois, Wisconsin and other states.[2]

Traditional Uses

The rhizome is taken orally as an adaptogen, aphrodisiac, stimulant, and in the treatment of type II diabetes.

Modern science and ginseng

As with herbalism in general, ginseng's medical efficacy remains controversial. It has been difficult to verify the medicinal benefits of ginseng using modern science, as there are contradictory results from different studies, possibly due to the wide variety and quality of ginseng used in studies. The quality and neutrality of studies from East Asia have also been questioned.[citation needed] Another issue is the profit potential of corporate research since ginseng cannot be patented. As a result, quality studies into the effects of ginseng are rare. Ironically, one of the better studies involving ginseng actually uses a proprietary formula of ginseng [3]

Ginseng is promoted as an adaptogen (a product that increases the body's resistance to stress), a vague claim, but one which can to a certain extent be supported with reference to its anticarcinogenic and antioxidant properties,[4] although animal experiments to determine whether longevity and health were increased in the presence of stress gave negative results.[5]

A comparative, randomized and double-blind government study does indicate it to be "a promising dietary supplement" when assessed for an increase in quality of life [6].

Panax ginseng appear to inhibit some characteristics associated with cancer in animal models; nevertheless, this effect is unclear in humans.[7]

Side Effects

One of ginseng's most common side-effects is the inability to sleep.[1] Other side-effects include nausea, diarrhea, euphoria, headaches, epistaxis, high blood pressure, low blood pressure, mastalgia, and vaginal bleeding.[2]

Common classification

Ginseng roots in a market in Seoul, 2003
Ginseng roots in a market in Seoul, 2003
  • Panax ginseng Chinese/Korean ginseng (root)
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Ginseng promotes Yang energy, improves circulation, increases blood supply, revitalizes and aids recovery from weakness after illness, stimulates the body
The ginseng root can be double steamed with chicken meat as a soup. (See samgyetang.)
  • Panax quinquefolius American ginseng (root)
Ginseng that is produced in the United States and Canada is particularly prized in Chinese societies, and many ginseng packages are prominently colored red, white, and blue.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, American Ginseng promotes Yin energy, cleans excess Yang in the body, calms the body. The reason it has been claimed that American ginseng promotes Yin (shadow, cold, negative, female) while East Asian ginseng promotes Yang (sunshine, hot, positive, male) is that, according to traditional Chinese medicine, things living in cold places are strong in Yang and vice versa, so that the two are balanced. Chinese/Korean ginseng grows in northeast China and Korea, the coldest area known to Chinese in the old time, so ginseng from there is supposed to be very Yang. And originally, American ginseng was imported into China via subtropical Canton, the seaport next to Hong Kong, so Chinese doctors believed that American ginseng must be good for Yin, because it came from a hot area. However they did not know that American ginseng can only grow in temperate regions.
The ginseng is sliced, a few slices are soaked in hot water to make a tea.
Most North American ginseng is produced in the Canadian provinces of Ontario and British Columbia and the American state of Wisconsin, according to Agri-food Canada. P. quinquefolius is now also grown in northern China.
A randomized, double-blind study shows that American ginseng reduces influenza cases in the elderly when compared to placebo.[3]

Wild ginseng

Wild ginseng is ginseng that has not been planted and cultivated domestically, rather it is that which grows naturally and is harvested from wherever it is found to be growing. It is considered to be superior to domestic ginseng by various authorities, and it has been shown to contain higher levels of ginsenoside. Wild ginseng is relatively rare and even increasingly endangered, due in large part to high demand for the product in recent years, which has lead to the wild plants being sought out and harvested faster than new ones can grow (it requires years for a ginseng root to reach maturity).

Red ginseng

Red ginseng
Red ginseng

Red ginseng (Korean=홍삼, Simplified Chinese: 红蔘; Traditional Chinese: 紅蔘), is Panax ginseng that has been heated, either through steaming or sun-drying. It is frequently marinated in an herbal brew which results in the root becoming extremely brittle. This version of ginseng is associated with stimulating sexual function and increasing energy. Red ginseng is always produced from cultivated roots, usually from either China or South Korea.

A double-blind, crossover study of Red ginseng's effects on impotence show a marked positive effect.[8]

A study shows that Red ginseng reduces the relapse of gastric cancer versus control[9]

A study of ginseng's effects on rats show that while both White ginseng and Red ginseng reduce the incidence of cancer, the effects appear to be greater with Red ginseng.[10]

Ginseng alternatives

These plants are sometimes referred to as ginseng, but they are either from a different family or genus.

  • Eleutherococcus senticosus (Siberian ginseng)
  • Pseudostellaria heterophylla (Prince ginseng)
  • Angelica sinensis (Female ginseng, aka Dong Quai)
  • Withania somnifera (Indian ginseng, aka Ashwagandha)
  • Pfaffia paniculata (Brazilian ginseng)
  • Lepidium meyenii (Peruvian ginseng, aka Maca)
  • Gynostemma pentaphyllum (Southern ginseng, aka Jiaogulan)

See also

  • Traditional Chinese medicine
  • New Age
  • Food therapy
  • Poor man's ginseng


  1. ^ E. H. Schafer, The golden peaches of Samarkand (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1963) p. 190.
  2. ^ Andrew Dalby, "Ginseng: taming the wild" in Wild food: proceedings of the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery 2004 ed. Richard Hosking (Totnes: Prospect Books, 2006. ISBN 1-903018-43-9) pp. 93-104.
  3. ^ a b McElhaney JE et al (2004). "A placebo-controlled trial of a proprietary extract of North American ginseng (CVT-E002) to prevent acute respiratory illness in institutionalized older adults". J Am Geriatr Soc 52 (1): 13–19. PMID 14687309.
  4. ^ Davydov M, Krikorian AD. (October 2000). "Eleutherococcus senticosus (Rupr. & Maxim.) Maxim. (Araliaceae) as an adaptogen: a closer look.". Journal of Ethnopharmacology 72 (3): 345-393. PMID 6685799.
  5. ^ Lewis WH, Zenger VE, Lynch RG. (August 1983). "No adaptogen response of mice to ginseng and Eleutherococcus infusions.". Journal of Ethnopharmacology 8 (2): 209-214. PMID 6685799.
  6. ^ Caso Marasco A, Vargas Ruiz R, Salas Villagomez A, Begona Infante C. (1996). "Double-blind study of a multivitamin complex supplemented with ginseng extract". Drugs Exp Clin Res. 22 (6): 323–329. PMID 9034759.
  7. ^ Shin HR, Kim JY, Yun TK, Morgan G, Vainio H (2000). "The cancer-preventive potential of Panax ginseng: a review of human and experimental evidence". Cancer Causes Control 11 (6): 565–576. PMID 10880039.
  8. ^ Hong B, Ji YH, Hong JH, Nam KY, Ahn TY. (2002). "A double-blind crossover study evaluating the efficacy of Korean red ginseng in patients with erectile dysfunction: a preliminary report". Journal of Urology 168 (5): 20–21. PMID 12394711.
  9. ^ Suh SO, Kroh M, Kim NR, Joh YG, Cho MY. (2002). "Effects of red ginseng upon postoperative immunity and survival in patients with stage III gastric cancer.". American Journal of Chinese Medicine. 30 (4): 483–94. PMID 12568276.
  10. ^ Yun TK, Lee YS, Lee YH, Kim SI, Yun HY (2001). "Anticarcinogenic effect of Panax ginseng C.A. Meyer and identification of active compounds.". Journal of Korean Medical Science 16 (S): 6–18. PMID 11748383.

External links

  • Phytochemicals in Korean Ginseng
  • The Journal of the American Botanical Council HerbalGram. 2003;57:35 American Botanical Council
  • Overdose and Safety information
  • Ginseng Abuse Syndrome disputed
  • "Ginseng may reduce number, severity of colds". (Nov. 6, 2005). New Sunday Times, p. F19.
  • Drugs & Supplements - Mayo Clinic
  • Panax ginseng - American Family Physician
  • Asian Ginseng Fact Sheet
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