Botanical Name: Panax quinquefolius
Family: Araliaceae ( ivy family)
Species: P. quinquefolius
Synonyms: Aralia quinquefolia. Five Fingers. Tartar Root. Red Berry. Man’s Health
Common Name: American ginseng
Habitat :American ginseng is native to eastern North America, though it is also cultivated in places such as China,Korea and Japan. The plant grows in rich woods throughout eastern and central North America, especially along the mountains from Quebec and Ontario, south to Georgia.
American ginseng is a smooth herbaceous perennial herb, with a large, fleshy, very slow-growing root, 2 to 3 inches in length (occasionally twice this size) and from 1/2 to 1 inch in thickness. Its main portion is spindle-shaped and heavily annulated (ringed growth), with a roundish summit, often with a slight terminal, projecting point. At the lower end of this straight portion, there is a narrower continuation, turned obliquely outward in the opposite direction and a very small branch is occasionally borne in the fork between the two. Some small rootlets exist upon the lower portion. The colour ranges from a pale yellow to a brownish colour. It has a mucilaginous sweetness, approaching that of liquorice, accompanied with some degree of bitterness and a slight aromatic warmth, with little or no smell. The stem is simple and erect, about a foot high, bearing three leaves, each divided into five finely-toothed leaflets, and a single, terminal umbel, with a few small, yellowish flowers. The fruit is a cluster of bright red berrles….CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES
Cultivation: On account of the growing scarcity of the American Ginseng plant, experiments have been made by the State of Pennsylvania to determine whether it can be grown profitably, resulting in the conclusion that in five years, starting with seeds and one year plants (or sooner if a start were made with older plants), an acre of ground would yield a profit of 1,500 dollars, without allowance for rental, but many precautions are necessary for success. The cultivated plants produced larger roots than those of the wild plant.
In 1912 it was estimated that the acreage of cultivated Ginseng in the United States was about 150 acres, and it is calculated that to supply China with twenty million dollars’ worth of dry root would require the American growers to plant 1,000 acres annually for five years, before this estimated annual supply could be sold. The cultivation of Ginseng would therefore appear to offer a rich field to American agriculture. It presents, however, considerable difficulty, owing to the great care and special methods required and to the fact that it is a very slow-growing crop, so that rapid returns can hardly be anticipated, and it is doubtful if its cultivation can be carried on profitably except by specialists in the crop. None the less, the percentage returns for the industrious, patient and painstaking farmer are large, and the demand for a fine article for export is not at all likely to be exceeded by the supply.
Part Used: The Root.
Chemical Constituents: Like Panax ginseng, American ginseng contains dammarane-type ginsenosides, or saponins, as the major biologically active constituents. Dammarane-type ginsenosides include two classifications: 20(S)-protopanaxadiol (PPD) and 20(S)-protopanaxatriol (PPT). American ginseng contains high levels of Rb1, Rd (PPD classification), and Re (PPT classification) ginsenosides—higher than that of P. ginseng in one study.
A large amount of starch and gum, some resin, a very small amount of volatile oil and the peculiar sweetish body, Panaquilon. This occurs as a yellow powder, precipitating with water a white, amorphous substance, which has been called Panacon.
American ginseng or Panax quinquefolius is commonly used as Chinese or herbal medicine. In Western medicine, it is considered a mild stomachic tonic and stimulant, useful in loss of appetite and in digestive affections that arise from mental and nervous exhaustion.
A tincture has been prepared from the genuine Chinese or American root, dried and coarsely powdered, covered with five times its weight of alcohol and allowed to stand, well-stoppered, in a dark, cool place, being shaken twice a day. The tincture, poured off and filtered, has a clear, light-lemon colour, an odour like the root and a taste at first bitter, then dulcamarous and an acid reaction.
There is no evidence that American ginseng is effective in those infected with the common cold. The effect of preventive use is not clear. When used preventively it makes no difference on the rate of infections. It also appears to have no effect on how bad the infections are. There is tentative evidence that it may lessen the length of sickness when used preventively.
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Cautions: : Individuals requiring anti-coagulant therapy such as warfarin should avoid use of American ginseng. Not recommended for individuals with impaired liver or renal function. It is not recommended in those who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Other adverse effects include: headaches, anxiety, trouble sleeping and an upset stomach.
Recent studies have shown that through the many cultivated procedures that American ginseng is grown, fungal molds, pesticides, and various metals and residues have contaminated the crop. Though these contaminating effects are not considerably substantial, they do pose health concerns that lead to neurological problems, intoxication, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.