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  • Panax quinquefolium L.
  • Panax ginseng
  • American ginseng
  • Ararliaceae
  • Ginseng family

Common Names

Panax quinquefolius L.:
herbsAmerican ginseng
herbsFive fingers root
herbsFive-leafed ginseng
herbsJen-shen (Chinese name)
Panax schin-seng L.:
herbsAsiatic ginseng
herbsChinese ginseng
herbsJen-shen (Chinese name)
herbsLen seng (Mandarin name)
herbsRen-shen (Sanskrit name)

Parts Usually Used

Panax quinquefolius L.:

Panax schin-seng L.:

Panax trifolius L.:
Leaves and roots

Eleutherococcus senticosus L.: (Otherwise known as Siberian ginseng)

Description of Plant(s) and Culture

Panax quinquefolius L.:
A perennial slow growing plant with a large spindle-shaped fleshy root and a smooth erect stem; 1-2 feet high. Root sometimes resembling human form, spindle-shaped or forked. At the top of the stem are 3 large leaves palmately divided into 4-5 (occasionally 3-7) sharp-toothed oblong-lance-shaped leaflets. In the leaf axil grows an umbel of yellow-green, scented, flowers. June to July. Fruits 2-seeded red berries follow the blossoms. Partial shade in zone 4.

Panax schin-seng L.: (Chinese Panax ginseng)
Asiatic ginseng is a small perennial plant; the aromatic root common only grows to a length of 2 feet or more and is often divided at the end. The simple, glabrous stem bears near the top a whorl of 3 or 5 palmately compound leaves consisting of 5 oblong-ovate, finely double-serrate leaflets. From June to August the plant is topped by a solitary simple umbel of greenish-yellow flowers. The fruit is a small, red, edible, drupelike berry.

Panax trifolius L.:
Known as Dwarf Ginseng: it is a globe-rooted perennial; 2-8 inches high. Leaves divided into 3 (occasionally 5) toothed, oblong to lance-shaped leaflets. Flowers are white to yellow (or sometimes pinkish), in small umbels; April to May. Fruits green or yellow.

Eleutherococcus senticosus L.: (Otherwise known as Siberian ginseng)
In Russia today, scientists are researching many subjects. As a part of this research, the Russians have been working to find the true medicinal value of plants, and they have been trying to promote a plant of their own, E. senticosus, which they claim has characteristics very much like ginseng.

It is a stimulant, increasing the general tone of the organism, normalizing arterial pressure and reducing an elevated blood sugar level. Helps people resist bad effects of stress more effectively. This herb is not technically ginseng at all but has many of the properties of ginseng and is used the same way.

Other varieties:
Japanese ginseng (Panax japonica); and Tienchi Ginseng (Panax notoginseng), no English equivalent name, also called sanchi. Tienchi is used in processed form, never raw, available in markets in processed slices of the root called Tian Qi Pian.

Where Found

Panax quinquefolius L.:
Rich woods. Maine to Georgia; Oklahoma to Minnesota. Now an endangered species in much of this area. Wisconsin-grown ginseng is highly valued throughout the Orient.

Panax schin-seng L.:
Found in damp woods of Manchuria and is cultivated primarily in Korea.

Panax trifolius L.:
Rich woods. Nova Scotia to Pennsylvania, Georgia mountains; Indiana, Iowa to Minnesota.

Eleutherococcus senticosus L.: (Otherwise known as Siberian ginseng)
Grown in Siberia.

Medicinal Properties

Panax quinquefolius L.:
Demulcent, tonic, alterative, stimulant, carminative, stomachic, nervine, aphrodisiac

Panax schin-seng L.:
Demulcent, nervine, panacea, stimulant, stomachic, tonic

Panax trifolius L.:
Demulcent, tonic.

Eleutherococcus senticosus L.: (Otherwise known as Siberian ginseng)
Demulcent panacea, stimulant, stomachic, nervine, tonic

Biochemical Information

Panax quinquefolius L.:
Arabinose, calcium, camphor, gineosides, iron, mucilage, panaxosides, resin, saponin, starch, and vitamins A, B12, and E.

Panax schin-seng L.:
Arabinose, calcium, camphor, gineosides, iron, mucilage, panaxosides, resin, saponin, starch, and vitamins A, B12, and E.

Panax trifolius L.:
Arabinose, calcium, camphor, gineosides, iron, mucilage, panaxosides, resin, saponin, starch, and vitamins A, B12, and E.

Eleutherococcus senticosus L.: (Otherwise known as Siberian ginseng)

Legends, Myths and Stories

Used in China for over 5,000 years, ginseng was known to 9th century Arab physicians. Over 400 million people have been using this herb for centuries. Marco Polo wrote of this prized wonder drug and when a delegation from the King of Siam visited Louis XIV, they presented the king with a root of gintz-aen. From then on, ginseng was widely used by wealthy Europeans for exhaustion and debility. By the 18th century, it was also popular in America, especially when P. quinquefolius was found to be indigenous.

The name "panax" in the botanical name means "all-healing." The Mandarin name for ginseng, len seng, literally means "root of man," so named because the root resembles the shape of the human body.

It is said that the botanical name of ginseng is derived from the Greek word for panacea, because of the great reverence in which the herb is held.

Ginseng was known to Judah in the market place of Israel (Ezekiel 27:17). Trading was done in wheat, oil balm, honey, and "Pannag," or all-healing ginseng.

Panax quinquefolius L.:
No medicinal herb is more famous than Ginseng. For over 200 years wild American Ginseng has been harvested and shipped to the Orient. Today, over 95% of the American Ginseng crop (wild-harvested and cultivated) is shipped to eastern Asia. Interstate commerce of the root is regulated by the federal government. It is unethical and illegal to harvest the roots before the red berries ripen and set seed in late summer or early autumn.

In China for centuries, Ginseng was considered an almost magical drug, a cure for bodily woes. Among the Chinese healers Ginseng is regarded primarily as a "man's herb" although it may be taken by both men and women. The female equivalent of Ginseng is a root called Dong Kwei.

The name Ginseng is derived from the Chinese word for "likeness of man" because its roots sometimes resemble a human figure. Ginseng's genus name Panax, like the word panacea, comes from the Greek word panakeia, meaning "all-healing". This refers to the plant's reputation as a Chinese cure-all. Quinquefolium means five-fingered leaf.

Native Americans have used the root of this plant to relieve vomiting and nausea. Some tribes used it in their love potions. American colonists began using ginseng in the early 1700s. The Eclectics, 19th century physicians who rejected synthetic drugs in favor of plant medicines, recommended American ginseng as a stimulant and aphrodisiac.


Panax quinquefolius L.:
The root is considered demulcent, mild stimulant, tonic. Research suggests it may increase mental efficiency and physical performance, aid in adapting to high or low temperatures and stress when taken over an extended period. Ginseng's effect is called "adapatogenic", tending to return the body to normal.

Promotes appetite, helps dyspepsia, rheumatism, headache, lumbago, sciatica, debility, colds, coughs, bronchitis, symptoms of menopause, constipation, lung troubles, cystitis.

Native Americans in some areas used a decoction of ginseng root to relieve nausea and vomiting. Several tribes used it as an ingredient in love potions and charms. May inhibit the growth of cancerous tumors.

Panax schin-seng L.:
Used as a panacea for all ailments. Used primarily for fever, inflammatory diseases, for hemorrhage, and for blood diseases. Women take it for everything from normalizing menstruation to easing childbirth. Promotes mental and physical vigor, relieves stress, impotence, rheumatism, strengthens endocrine glands, reduces cholesterol, increases the good cholesterol (HDL) and lowers the so called bad cholesterol (LDL), normalizes bodily functions, increases energy, enhances sexual desire, improves appetite and helps digestive disturbances. Mildly stimulates the central nervous system and various glands. Helpful for coughs, colds, and various chest problems. May inhibit growth of malignant tumors.

The Chinese have used ginseng as a heart tonic, severe dyspepsia, continued fevers, old coughs, persistent vomiting in pregnancy, chronic malaria, hemorrhages, and spermatorrhea.

Panax trifolius L.:
Native Americans used tea of the whole plant for colic, indigestion, gout, hepatitis, hives, rheumatism, and tuberculosis; root was chewed for headaches, shortness of breath, fainting, nervous debility.

Used to treat impotence, (it stimulates male sex glands), stress (strengthens the adrenal glands), cocaine withdrawal, energy, diabetes, radiation protection, colds, and chest problems. Promotes lung function, enhances immune function, stimulates the appetite, and normalizing blood pressure.

Eleutherococcus senticosus L.: (Otherwise known as Siberian ginseng)
Normalizes blood pressure, relieves physical and mental stress, hardening of the arteries, angina, headaches, improved blood circulation, insomnia, treats bronchitis, chronic lung ailments, reduces blood cholesterol, increases energy and stamina, improves mental alertness and generally improves overall health.

Formulas or Dosages

Panax schin-seng L.:
The root of both ginseng species listed here, is collected after flowering. Use only thoroughly dried root. Make it into a tea according to your taste and use as needed. (Normally 1 cup daily)

How Sold

Capsules: take 1 capsule, up to 3 times daily.
Tablets, Extracts
Powder: mix 1 to 2 tsp. in warm liquid daily.
Instant granules, Ginseng liquid
Ginseng tea: drink 1 cup daily.


Panax quinquefolius L.:
Some caution required, large doses are said to raise blood pressure. Do not use if you have high blood pressure.

Because it grows slowly, is rare over much of its former range and because it has been overcollected, wild plants should be left alone.

Avoid P. notoginseng in pregnancy; it may adversely affect the fetus. Although ginseng is generally safe, side effects have been reported; avoid other stimulants such as tea, coffee, and cola drinks when taking ginseng.

Panax schin-seng L.:
Some may find Chinese ginseng too stimulating, especially at bedtime. Use early in the day. High doses may cause jittery feelings. Do not exceed 5 to 10 grams daily. In rare cases, some develop high blood pressure, menopausal bleeding, or headaches. Check with the doctor if Hypertensive (high blood pressure condition), vaginal bleeding, or headaches occur. (This aid for vaginal bleeding during menopause can be mistaken for uterine cancer, so be up front with the doctor about taking ginseng) Ginseng is usually taken an hour before or an hour after eating.

Vitamin C can interfere with absorption of ginseng. If taking vitamin C, wait 2 hours after or 2 hours before taking ginseng.

Avoid use or use with care if you have high blood pressure, high fever, inflammatory conditions, or obesity.

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