Ginseng<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
Panax pseudoginseng Wall. Family Araliaceae is a very rare 30-60 cm tall erect herb distributed in the interior temperate mountainous regions of <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Sikkim, Bhutan, Nepal and China, recorded in the Western Himalayas from Pithoragarh district in Uttar Pradesh.
The root of Asian ginseng contains active chemical components called ginsenosides (or panaxosides) that are thought to be responsible for the herb's medicinal properties. The root is dried and used to make tablets or capsules, extracts, and teas, as well as creams or other preparations for external use.
Ginseng is used as a stimulant. It is reputed to have a sedative effect on the cerebrum and a mildly stimultating action on the vital centers. It is aromatic bitter, stomachic and demulcent, and is considered alliterative, carminative, tonic, expectorant and antipyretic. It is used as a masticatory. It is also a gonadotrophic agent containing little toxic substance. Ginseng has a deep influence on metabolism and prevents the development of atherosclerosis. It has the capacity of reducing high blood pressure and raising low blood pressure to the normal level. For this reason, it is admininstered in cases of hypertension and hypotension. Some studies have shown that Asian ginseng may lower blood glucose. Other studies indicate possible beneficial effects on immune function.
Besides Panax pseudoginseng Wall. which is principal source of drug ginseng P. ginseng Mey., (Chinese or Asiatic ginseng), P. quinquefolium Linn. (American ginseng ) and P. japonicus (Japanese ginseng),
Mey. are the principal sources. Asian ginseng is native to China and Korea and has been used in various systems of medicine for many centuries. Asian ginseng is one of several types of true ginseng (another is American ginseng, Panax quinquefolius). Four different plant species related to the commercial ginseng, commonly found in India are: P.bipinnatifidus, P. burkillianus Bennet&Viswanathan, P. pseudoginseng Wall. and P. sikkimensis Banerjee. Of these, P. pseudoginseng provides the Chinese wonder drug, "Sanchi" used to cure a number of diseases including cancer.An herb called Siberian ginseng or eleuthero (Eleutherococcus senticosus) is not a true ginseng.
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Fig 3.1 Asian ginseng.
Indian pseudoginseng has been found to be a rich source of oleanolic acid saponins while dammarane saponins are present in minor quantities. Saponin fraction of pseudoginseng displayed adaptogenic, immunostimulant and anti-inflammatory activities comparable with Korean ginseng. The active principles present in ginseng have not been clearly
charactized. The drug from both the Chinese and Amercian sources was reported to contian a glcoside, panaquilon, besides a saponin
(0.75-1%), a bitter substance, resin, tannin, volatile oil (contaning a
terpene, panacen), sugars, starch and mucilage.
A small genus of perennial herbs distributed in the north temperate
zone in East Asia and North America. Two species, P. quinquefolium and P. schinseng, supply the drug, Amercian and Chinese Ginseng Root respectively. They do not occur in India but ginseng roots are probably imported; data relating to their import are not available.
P. schinseng Nees syn. P. ginseng Mey. (ASIATIC or CHINESE GINSENG) is a perennial herb indigenous to the forests of eastern Asia and cultivated in northern China, Korea and Japan. ginseng, is now being used to a large extent in modern medicine. India imports true ginseng mainly from Indonesia and Singapore.