Ginseng radix – Ginseng

Panax gin­seng, gin­seng, also known as Asi­an gin­seng, Chi­ne­se gin­seng, Japa­ne­se gings­eng or Kore­an gin­seng, is a spe­ci­es of plant who­se root is the ori­gi­nal source of gin­seng. It is a peren­ni­al plant that grows in the moun­ta­ins of East Asia.

Panax gin­seng is cal­led Réns­hēn (人蔘 or 人参 or 人參; lit. ‘gin­seng’) in Chi­ne­se, Insam (인삼; 人蔘) in Kore­an and Nin­jin (人参) in Japanese.

Panax gin­seng is a her­bace­ous peren­ni­al gro­wing from 30 to 60 cm tall. Plants have a spind­le or cylin­der-shaped taproot usual­ly with 1 or 2 main bran­ches. Plants pro­du­ce 3 to 6 lea­ves that are pal­m­ate­ly com­pound with each leaf having 3 to 5 leaf­lets. The mar­gins of the leaf­lets are den­se­ly ser­ru­la­te. The flowers are born in a soli­ta­ry inflo­re­s­cence that is a ter­mi­nal umbel with 30 to 50 flowers. The pedun­cles of the flowers are 15 to 30 cm long. The flower ova­ry is 2‑carpellate and each car­pel has two distinct styl­es. Matu­re fruits are 4–5 x 6–7 mil­li­me­ters in size, red in color, and round with flat­ten­ed ends. The white seeds are kid­ney-shaped. The (2n) diplo­id chro­mo­so­me count is 48.

Panax gin­seng is nati­ve to moun­tai­nous regi­ons of Rus­si­an Man­chu­ria (in the Rus­si­an Far East), Manchuria/​Northeast Chi­na, and the Kore­an Pen­in­su­la. It is a pro­tec­ted plant in Rus­sia and Chi­na, and most com­mer­cial gin­seng is now sourced from plants cul­ti­va­ted in Chi­na, Korea and Rus­sia. It is also cul­ti­va­ted in some are­as of Japan. The plant is a slow-gro­wing peren­ni­al and the roots are usual­ly har­ve­s­ted when the plants are five or six years old. 

Panax gin­seng is one of the most com­mon­ly cul­ti­va­ted gin­seng spe­ci­es, along with P. notogin­seng (found natu­ral­ly in Chi­na) and P. quinquefolius. 

The­re is no high-qua­li­ty evi­dence for gin­seng having a health effect. Gin­seng phy­to­che­mi­cals cal­led gin­se­no­si­des are under preli­mi­na­ry rese­arch for their poten­ti­al to affect fati­gue in peo­p­le with mul­ti­ple scle­ro­sis. Panax gin­seng is gene­ral­ly con­side­red safe for adults when used for less than six months, but may be unsafe to use for lon­ger than six months. 

Gin­seng is used as an herb in folk medi­ci­ne. It is con­su­med due to belief that it may impro­ve memo­ry and cogni­ti­on in other­wi­se healt­hy adults, and that it may impro­ve sexu­al func­tion in adults with erec­ti­le dysfunction.