Ginseng is a perennial herbaceous plant with a fleshy root, native to China and belonging to the Araliaceae family. It is also widespread in Korea and Manchuria, where it grows in wooded forests. It includes about 50 different species also found in Russia and North America. The Latin botanical name of ginseng is Panax or Panax ginseng, which derives from "pan" which means "everything" and "ax" which means "cure", that is a plant that cures everything, from which also derives the term panacea for all evils. The name ginseng, on the other hand, derives from the Chinese renshen which means "plant of man". Ginseng has a rather low stem, large and fleshy roots and red berries. It is a plant that grows very slowly and must be transplanted every three years. Full growth occurs after seven years. After harvesting, the root undergoes various treatments that allow it to be preserved. It can also be dried. Ginseng is a plant universally known for its infinite medicinal virtues, contained right in the root. It is defined as a miraculous plant, which boasts millennial uses. Even the hunters of skins went into the Asian forests to try to collect it, even at the cost of risking their lives. For those who intend to consume the ginseng root it is advisable to cut it into slices. This is similar to the parsley root, but much larger and fleshy. Another variety of ginseng, on the other hand, has smaller and highly branched roots, it is Siberian ginseng, known as eleutherococcus (Eleuterococcus senticosus). Other varieties are Panax schinseng or Chinese ginseng, Panax pseudo-ginseng found in Nepal and eastern Imalaia, Panac notoginseng also grown in China, Panax japonicus, vietnamensis and, finally, the Andean ginseng. The most used species in herbal medicine is Panax ginseng.
Alla ginseng root miraculous virtues are attributed, not yet all definitively proven, and under study, but in any case recognized and testified by research and studies on animals. Furthermore, whether awareness of the miraculous virtues of ginseng can favor a placebo effect when taking this plant is not yet fully established and therefore we can only rely on current knowledge. Ginseng is considered the anti-fatigue and anti-stress plant par excellence, a plant species capable of stimulating the nervous, immune and hormonal systems to restore it to a state of well-being and external and internal balance. Its properties are due to the presence of triterpene saponins, ginsenosides which are considered the main active ingredient of the plant root. Other active and equally useful substances contained in ginseng are vitamins, amino acids, folic acid, phytoestrogens, essential oils and minerals, including manganese, which is considered a very powerful anti-asthenic. Ginseng is considered an adaptive remedy, that is, a substance capable of enhancing the ability to adapt to external negative stimuli that can produce stress. Animal studies have shown that its active ingredients act on the hypothalamus, pituitary and adrenal axes, stimulating the endocrine system to increase the secretion of cortisol or the stress hormone which increases resistance to fatigue and stress. The active ingredients of ginseng are also useful for strengthening the immune system in case of debilitation due to diseases. They also seem to have aphrodisiac and erection-stimulating effects. They improve the activity of blood circulation to the brain which receives more oxygen with benefits for the ability to concentrate and memory. Ginseng would also have hypoglycemic and cholesterol-lowering effects.
Ginseng is marketed through food supplements that contain its active ingredients. In the various sales channels you will find drinking bottles, capsules, tablets, powders, dry root, fluid concentrate and pure extract. The dried root can be simply chewed or used to make infusions. The recommended dose is 0.5 to two grams per day. The root extract contained in the various commercial preparations provides an ideal dose of 200 mg per day. The dosage of the capsules or tablets containing the root concentrate is one or two a day, away from main meals, preferably in the morning and in the afternoon. The ideal dose of liquid ginseng extract is one vial a day, pure or diluted with water. The ideal dose of the extract in non-alcoholic drops is 10, 15 drops in a little water two or three times a day. Ginseng, due to its remarkable energizing effect, can give side effects such as insomnia and hyperactivity, so it should not be taken with other stimulating drugs or with constants such as theine and caffeine. It is also not recommended for use during pregnancy, breastfeeding and children.
The costs of ginseng products depend not only on the purchasing channel, but also on the manufacturer. In fact, between one brand and another, there can be significant price differences. A pack of 50 ginseng capsules costs around 23 euros, while a 45 pack can cost 14 euros. The cost of the powdered root used to make herbal teas is more affordable. A 100 gram bag of root powder costs around 10 euros. A 10ml vial of ginseng extract costs around 19 euros. The ginseng extract in non-alcoholic drops, in bottles of 30 ml, costs almost 24 euros.