Ginseng-Panax ginseng C.A. Mey or Aralia quinquefolia Deene & Planch Ginseng

Synonyms Panax; Energofit; Pannag; Ninjin.
Biological Source Ginseng is the dried root of different naturally occurring species of Panax, namely: Panax ginseng C.A. Mey or Aralia quinquefolia Deene & Planch (Korean Ginseng);
Panax japonica (Japanese Ginseng); Panax notoginseng (Indian Ginseng) belonging to family Araliaceae.
Geographical Source The plant is found extensively in Korea, Russia and China, but off late it has been cultivated on a large commercial scale in Japan, Canada and United States.
Preparation The plants are usually harvested 3 to 5 years after transplantation. It is usual practice to affect the actual harvesting between July to October.
White Ginseng It is obtained by removing the outer layers of the roots. However, it has been established that the removal of outer layers may tantamount to serious loss of the active components.
Red Ginseng It is obtained by first subjecting the roots to stearning and after that they are dried in an artificial environment between 50-60°C. The two types of roots sare subsequently graded and packed.
Colour : Yellowish- brown, white or red
Odour : None
Shape : Tuberous and corpulent
Appearance : Translucent and bears the stem scars.
Chemicals Constitutents Ginseng chiefly comprises of a complex mixture of triterpenoid
saponins which may be either a steroidal triterpene or a pentacyclic related to oleonic acid. However, these glyscosides have been classified into three major heads, namely:
(a) Ginsenosides,
(b) Panaxosides, and
(c) Chikusetsu Saponins.
Ginsenoside Rg1, is one of the major saponins that has been isolated and identified in ginseng, with a steroidal triterpene aglycone known as (20S)-protopanaxatriol as shown below:

Ginsenoside Rg1
In all, about 13 ginsenosides have been isolated and identified. Interestingly, panaxasides undergo decomposition yielding oleanolic acid, panaxadipol and panaxatriol as given below:

1. In the Chinese system of medicine ginseng is the most favourite remedy for a variety of ailments e.g., as a general tonic, stimulant, carminative and diuretic activities.
2. It also possesses adaptogenic (antistress) properties and is found to exert positive action on the metabolism, the endocrine system and the central nervous system.
3. In the orient ginseng is used abundantly in the treatment of anaemia, diabetes, insomnia, gastritis, neurasthenia and specifically to cure sexual impotence.
4. It is found to enhance the natural resistance (i.e., non-specific resistance) and increases the ability to overcome both exhaustion or illness to a great extent.
5. It prolongs the life of elderly persons and cures giddiness.

Source: Pharmacognosy And Pharmacobiotechnology By Ashutosh Kar

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