Author: Concepción Marín, PharmD
What is ginseng? How do I take ginseng? What are the properties of the Panax ginseng plant? Are there any contraindications?
Technical data sheet: Ginseng
Family: Panax Ginseng C.A. Meyer
Origin: Northeast Asia
Composition: According to the European Pharmacopoeia, the cut and dried (white ginseng) or steamed (red ginseng) roots of Panax Ginseng C.A. Meyer contain ginsenosides, which are considered to be primarily responsible for its pharmacological activity.
Use: Ginseng has an invigorating effect and helps to resist fatigue. The European Committee for Medicinal Plants Committee (HPMC) states that ginseng root preparations are effective for symptoms associated with fatigue, asthenia and burnout syndrome.
Contraindications: Consult your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking medication for diabetes at the same time. for diabetes. Indeed, it has been shown that taking diabetes medication and ginseng at the same time diabetes medication and ginseng may cause a drop in blood sugar levels.
What is Panax ginseng ? What is it used for?
“Panacea comes from a Greek word meaning “all-healing”, and Panacea was the goddess of healing.”
Of all the medicinal plants that nature offers, ginseng has fascinated mankind the most. It is considered the “panacea” in traditional Chinese medicine. In fact, its botanical genus name is Panax, which derives from the Greek Pan (all) and acea or akèia (remedy), which literally means “all-healing”.
Its use has spread from the East and is now considered by the Western scientific community as a natural alternative for strengthening the immune system, regulating the metabolism and revitalize the body and mind.
The European Scientific Cooperative on Phytotherapy endorses its use to support the functioning of cognitive and physical functions such as fatigue, exhaustion, loss of concentration and also during convalescence.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) also recommends the traditional use of ginseng root for the treatment of symptoms of asthenia, such as fatigue.
Botanical Name: Panax ginseng, Panax ginseng C.A. Meyer.
Common names: Asian ginseng, Korean ginseng, Chinese ginseng. Chinese ginseng.
Related species: American ginseng (Panax Quinquefolium L.); Siberian ginseng (although it belongs to the same family, it belongs to a different genus, Eleutherococcus, therefore a different medicinal plant).
Origin: Northeast Asia
Habitat and culture: It is a perennial plant that needs a temperate climate, with deciduous forests and annual and annual rainfall between 50 and 100 cm. It grows in cold, mountainous regions of China, Korea and Japan, but rarely grows rarely in the wild. Only after the first 6-10 years of cultivation can the roots be the roots can be harvested in autumn. In Europe, it is cultivated according to the specific conditions that ginseng requires, by controlling the supply of water, nutrients and sunlight.
Characteristics and chemical composition of ginseng
Panax ginseng root (radix)
Ginseng has an aromatic smell and a sweet, mild taste at first, then slightly bitter. The root is spindle-shaped, usually less than 2.5 cm in diameter, and less than 2.5 cm in diameter, and is more or less branched depending on the age of the plant.
According to the European Pharmacopoeia, the part used is the root of Panax ginseng C. A. Meyer, cut and dried (white ginseng) or steamed and dried (called red ginseng because of its red-brown colour).
Multiple compounds have been identified in the root of ginseng root:
Ginsenosides, also known as panaxosides, are considered to be the main pharmacological agents.
- Protopanaxadiol derivatives : ginsenosides Ra1, Ra2, Ra3, Rb1, Rb2 and Rb3; notoginsenosides R4, Rs1, Rs2, Rs3 and Rs4, and malonylginsenosides Rb1, Rc and Rd.
- Protopanaxatriol derivatives : ginsenosides Re, Rf and Rg1, notoginsenosides R1.
- Oleanolic acid derivatives oleanolic acid: ginsenoside R
Qualitative and quantitative variations have been observed in different species. Korean ginseng root (Panax Ginseng) contains the highest number of ginsenosides, ranging from 1 to 3%. Within a species, there may be slight variations depending on the age of the root, origin and time of harvest, whether it is the main root or secondary rootlets. It has even been reported that the composition of ginseng is slightly different from that of red ginseng, as only the malonyl ginsenosides have been characterised in white ginseng.
During the steaming and drying process of red ginseng, another type of ginsenoside, Rg3, Rh2, Rh4 and Rg5, which are of great therapeutic interest, are synthesised.
Since their discovery a decade ago, rare ginsenosides have been studied extensively to explain the benefits of Panax ginseng, an efficacy proven by two thousand years of traditional medicine.
Recent publications have shown that rare ginsenosides, such as Rg3 and Rg5, regulate the rhythm of neuronal impulses between neurons in the hypothalamus during prolonged stress to reduce cortisol production. Thanks to their neuroprotective properties, rare ginsenosides reduce the effect of stress in other parts of the central nervous system (CNS) such as the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex.
- Polysaccharide derivatives, namely the panaxanes, which are divided into two series: Panaxanes A-E, which predominate in Korean ginseng, and Panaxanes Q-U panaxanes, which predominate in Japanese ginseng, are also considered to be responsible for many of the effects of ginseng.
- Proteins such as panaxagin (Panax ginseng) and quinqueginsin (Panax quinquefolius), which have antifungal activity (immunomodulatory function of ginseng) and ribonuclease activity (adaptogenic function of ginseng)
- Phenolic acids derived from benzoic acid. Salicylic acid, vanillic acid.
- Essential oil (namely limonene, terpineol, citral, polyenes and polyacetylenes) polyacetylenes).
- Steroids (phytosterols).
- Vitamins: vitamin C, biotin (B7), niacin (B3), riboflavin (B2) and pantothenic acid (B5).
- Minerals and trace elements Zinc, copper, iron, manganese, calcium, magnesium, potassium, Selenium.
Benefits and properties of ginseng
Energy and vitality
Ginseng has an invigorating and revitalising effect and helps resist fatigue.
The Committee on Herbal Medicinal Products (HPMC) reports that ginseng root preparations are effective for symptoms associated with fatigue, asthenia and burnout syndrome.
Indeed, a recent study on nurses working at night shifts showed that Korean ginseng supplementation improved performance, feelings of fatigue and mood.
The toning action of ginseng is explained by the following mechanisms:
- Oxygenation capacity: ginseng is said to improve the body’s oxygenation capacity of the body. Ginsenosides have been shown to protect the pulmonary vascular epithelium by neutralizing the damage caused by free radicals. free radicals.
- On muscles: Ginsenosides have been shown to influence the homeostasis mechanism during prolonged exercise by improving the ability of skeletal muscle to oxidise fatty acids instead of glucose to produce energy. Red ginseng has been shown to decrease lactic acid levels generated after intense exercise in the muscles and levels of creatine kinase (CK) which provide energy to the muscles. Other components present in the ginseng root are vanillic acid and salicylic acid which have shown fatigue resistance effects in fatigue in animals.
- On the central nervous system (CNS): This increased resistance to fatigue is also due to the action of red ginseng on the central nervous (CNS) by reducing cerebral consumption of oxygen and acting on the production of precursors of serotonin.
Resistance to stress and anxiety
Ginseng is a medicinal plant known as adaptogen. The term adaptogen was coined by Dr Nikolai Lazarev, a Soviet scientist who, during the Cold War, was looking for substances that could induce physical and mental endurance.
Ginseng increases the body’s resistance to stress and is considered a tonic as it provides a sense of well-being and improved work capacity.
Its pharmacological action can be summarised as an action on the central nervous system (CNS): the two main ginsenosides Rb1 and Rg1 respectively depress and stimulate the activity of the CNS. These two opposing actions may justify its action as an adaptogen.
Ginseng helps to improve memory and cognitive functions, according to in vitro and in vivo studies.
The improvement in cognitive function may be related to the modulation of the cholinergic and serotonergic systems. In addition, the ginsenosides Rb1 and Rg1 have an anti-amnestic effect by minimising the inhibitory effect of neurodegenerative peptides associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
Ginsenoside Rg3 plays a major role in improving memory and cognitive functions, mainly due to its antioxidant effects in reducing free radicals. Ginseng root also modulates intracellular neuronal signalling, neuronal metabolism cell survival and mitochondrial function, explaining its action in the prevention of neurodegenerative diseases.
Ginseng also has a relaxing effect. In particular, the ginsenoside Rg3 induces the activation of the GABAA receptor, the receptor associated with anxiety and sleep problems.
One study showed that in postmenopausal women treated with red ginseng for one month, the ratio of cortisol/DHEA levels decreased significantly, indicating a reduction in stress.
The effect of ginseng on the cardiovascular system is mainly due to the antioxidant activity of ginsenosides, which reduces and eliminates free radicals by activity of antioxidant enzymes such as SOD, catalase and GPX, stimulating GPX, in turn stimulating the synthesis of endogenous antioxidants such as glutathione. glutathione.
- Lipid peroxidation is considered to play a major role in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis. The structural changes that LDL undergoes as a result of oxidative action of free radicals.
- The ginsenosides Rb1 and Re ginsenosides exert a vasodilatory effect via the nitric oxide release mechanism. This explains the beneficial effect of ginseng in improving vascular endothelial dysfunction in persons with hypertension.
- The vasodilatory effect on bodies via nitric oxide may also explain the aphrodisiac effect of ginseng.
Ginseng increases phagocytosis and has an anti-proliferative activity against micro-organisms. These effects are attributed in particular to the polysaccharide fractions.
Red ginseng has been shown to stimulate macrophages and natural killer lymphocytes, which are part of the body’s innate immune system.
The anti-inflammatory role of ginseng may be due to the combined effects of ginsenosides and gintonin.
Monitoring of blood sugar control
In vivo and in vitro tests show the potential of ginsenosides and other constituents of ginseng root in the treatment of diabetes.
The ginsenoside Rg5 is responsible for the improvement of insulin resistance and reduction of glucagon secretion. The inhibitory effect of Rg5 was also observed on the hepatic response to glucagon, inhibiting glucose release by inhibiting glycogen synthesis and stimulating both glycogenolysis and glucogenesis.
The hypoglycaemic action is also attributed to the ginsenoside Re, which acts on the redistribution of the body’s energy reserves by occupying certain hormone receptors. Its effect on the release of plasma cortisol is attributed to its action on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, inducing the secretion of the hormone adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) by the anterior pituitary gland.
Are all ginsengs the same? Which ginseng is the best?
There are many types of ginseng on the market. As mentioned at the beginning of the monograph, it is important not to confuse the botanical species of ginseng (American, Siberian) as they differ in terms of pharmacological activity, indication, dosage and safety.
The botanical name of Korean ginseng is Panax Ginseng, which is the species on which the vast majority of scientific papers have been published and approved for use by the European Scientific Cooperative On Phytotherapy (ESCOP) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA).
The explosion in demand for ginseng has led to intensive farming, in countries where quality standards are very low and with the issue that the roots contain heavy metals, pesticides and even genetically modified organisms.
“The cultivation of ginseng roots and the preparation of the plant is crucial to ensure its effectiveness”
Red ginseng HRG80®: a very high-quality cultivar
Ginseng needs to be grown on good soil and under optimal conditions of moisture, sunlight and irrigation. It is only after the first 6-10 years of cultivation that the roots can be harvested.
The Botalys scientific team has created an innovative system for growing Korean red ginseng in hydroponics, replicating the ideal growing conditions of wild ginseng, using vertical farming in Europe (Belgium). Hydroponics is not only beneficial for the environment, but it also avoids the use of insecticides and herbicides.
This innovative and environmentally friendly approach results in a unique, pure and highly bioavailable Korean red ginseng.
Active ingredients in Panax Root Powder. Ginseng C.A. Meyer HRG80®:
- Ginsenosides (Top 20): 12% (Rb1, Rb2, Rc, Rd, Re, Rg1, Rf, CK, PPD, PPT, Rg2, Rg3, Rg5, Rg6, Rh1, Rh2, Rh3, Rh4, Rk1, F2)
- Rare Ginsenosides Rare: 10% (CK, PPD, PPT, Rg2, Rg3 (S&R), Rg5, Rg6, Rh1, Rh2, Rh3, Rh4, Rk1, F2).
Benefits of Ginseng HRG80®
It has been shown in clinical studies that ginseng HRG80® :
- Improved ability to concentrate: A randomised, double-blind study of 50 patients showed that after only one day of treatment, the ability to concentrate was significantly improved.
- Reducing stress levels: In a clinical study conducted in a call centre, stress and anxiety levels were reduced after five days of treatment.
- Changes in the brain’s electrical activity that improve memory processes: This was demonstrated in a randomised, double-blind study with 30 elderly patients.
What are the recommended doses? When should I take ginseng?
The dosage proposed by the EMA is based on traditional use and scientific literature. In the case of Korean red ginseng, the dosage proposed by the EMA for adults and the elderly is 600 mg of root powder three times a day. root powder, three times a day.
However, the recommended dose of Ginseng HRG80® from our Optim Ginseng supplement is 100-200mg per day (i.e. 1 to 2 capsules per day) preferably during a meal (breakfast or lunch), with a glass of water.
Duration of treatment
The duration of treatment is based on traditional use and scientific literature. Traditional Korean medicine classifies ginseng as a safe plant, even when the treatment is prolonged over a long term.
However, analysis of the literature indicates that it is safe for the first 12 weeks; but further studies are needed to establish the safety of ginseng treatment over longer periods.
Precautions for use and contraindications
Hypersensitivity to the substance.
The following contraindications have been described in the literature as possible: cardiac arrhythmias, hypertension, anxiety nervousness, pregnancy (due to a possible estrogenic effect) and breastfeeding.
Skin hypersensitivity reactions (hives, pruritus), insomnia, gastrointestinal disorders (gastric discomfort, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or constipation).
Consult your doctor or pharmacist if taking medications for diabetes. The literature warns against taking ginseng with diabetes medications may cause a drop in blood sugar levels.
Ginseng may also interact with monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), enhancing their effects and could cause headaches and anxiety attacks.
A possible interaction with warfarin has been described, but its mechanism has not been elucidated. In experiments in rats, concomitant administration did not produce significant effects on warfarin metabolism.
Pregnancy and breastfeeding
Given the lack of data on the efficacy of ginseng during pregnancy, lactation and in children, the use of ginseng is therefore not recommended in these people.
According to the literature, the no observable adverse effect level for ginseng has been set at 2000mg/kg body weight.
Dimpfel W, Mariage PA, Panossian AG. Effects of Red and White Ginseng Preparations on Electrical Activity of the Brain in Elderly Subjects: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Three-Armed Cross-Over Study. Pharmaceuticals (Basel). 2021 Feb 25;14(3):182.
EMA- Committee on Herbal Medicinal Products (HPMC) 2014 Community herbal monograph on Panax ginseng C.A.Meyer, radix
Marriage PA, Hovhannisyan A, Panossian AG. Efficacy of Panax ginseng Meyer Herbal Preparation HRG80 in Preventing and Mitigating Stress-Induced Failure of Cognitive Functions in Healthy Subjects: A Pilot, Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Crossover Trial. Pharmaceuticals (Basel). 2020 Mar 29;13(4):57.
Monografía – Panax ginseng C.A. Meyer – Fitoterapia.net
So SH, Lee JW, Kim YS, Hyun SH, Han CK. Red ginseng monograph. J Ginseng Res. 2018 Oct;42(4):549-561.
WHO 1999 Monographs on Selected Medicinal Plants – Volume 1: Radix Ginseng, p168.