Panax, the generic name, is derived from the Greek Panakos (a panacea), in reference to the miraculous virtue ascribed to it by the Chinese, who consider it a sovereign remedy in almost all diseases.
It was formerly supposed to be confined to Chinese Tartary, but now is known to be also a native of North America, from whence Sarrasin transmitted specimens to <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Paris in 1704.
ginseng is said to mean 'the wonder of the world.'
<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /> Panax has several species and although original ginseng P. ginseng is rare in Nepal but P. pseudoginseng which is equally good has enormous potential as ginseng for our climate of sub Himalayan regions.
The word Medicinal Uses
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Ginseng has a history of herbal use going back over 5,000 years. It is one of the most highly regarded of herbal medicines in the Orient, where it has gained an almost magical reputation for being able to promote health, general body vigour and also to prolong life. The root is adaptogen, alterative, carminative, demulcent, emetic, expectorant, stimulant and tonic[165, 176, 178, 218]. It both stimulates and relaxes the nervous system, encourages the secretion of hormones, improves stamina, lowers blood sugar and cholesterol levels and increases resistance to disease. It is used internally in the treatment of debility associated with old age or illness, lack of appetite, insomnia, stress, shock and chronic illness. Ginseng is not normally prescribed for pregnant women, or for patients under the age of 40, or those with depression, acute anxiety or acute inflammatory disease. It is normally only taken for a period of 3 weeks. Excess can cause headaches, restlessness, raised blood pressure and other side effects, especially if it is taken with caffeine, alcohol, turnips and bitter or spicy foods. The roots are harvested in the autumn, preferably from plants 6 - 7 years old, and can be used fresh or dried. A dose of 10ug/ml of ginseng saponins has been shown to be significantly radio-protective when it is administered prior to gamma-irradiation. The leaf is emetic and expectorant.
American ginseng is Panax quinquefolium (Linn.),
Owing to the enormous demand for the root in China recourse was had to the American species, Panax quinquefolium (Linn.), and in 1718 the Jesuits of Canada began shipping the roots to China, and the first shipment from North America to Canton yielded enormous profits. In 1748 the roots sold at a dollar a pound in America and nearly five in China. Afterwards, the price fluctuated, but the root is still eagerly purchased by Chinese traders for export to China, and at the present time commands a yet higher price in the American markets, though it is not an official medicine and has only a place in the eclectic Materia Medica. The American Consul at Amoy stated a few years ago that it is possible to market twenty million dollars worth of American Ginseng annually to China, if it could be produced; but since its collection for exportation, it has been so eagerly sought that it has become exterminated in many districts where it was formerly abundant.
This has led to its cultivation and to various devices for preserving the natural supply. In Canada a fine is imposed for collecting between January and the 1st of September. Among the Indians, it is customary to collect the root only after the maturity of the fruit and to bend down the stem before digging the root, thus providing for its propagation. Indian collectors assert that a large number of such seeds will germinate, and that they have been able to increase their area of collection by this method. However in my opinion such seeds are non viable and most probable method of cultivation would be through root cuttings.
Propagation by cuttings of the roots is the most successful method, the cuttings being placed in sand, under a handglass. Seeds, generally obtained from abroad, are sown in pots in the early spring and require gentle heat. When the plants are a few inches high, they must be transplanted into beds or sheltered borders. They require a good, warm soil, but much shade. To grow on a commercial basis is not considered feasible in this country.
Korean Ginseng is original Ginseng (Panax Ginseng C. A. Meyer.)
The biological name of the Korean Ginseng used for GINSENG PURE products is Panax Ginseng C. A. Meyer. This species has its origin in Korea between the 36th and 38th latitude and the southern Manchuria. There best conditions of soil and climate guarantee the growth of high-quality Ginseng.
Conditions for Cultivation
Ginseng that is rich in active substance needs 5 to 6 years to grow. Only then a maximum amount of the active substances, especially the Ginsenoids, will have developed. Before a another cultivation can take place the soil must rest a good 8 to ten years because the root has absorbed all nutrients.
Seed - sow in a shady position in a cold frame preferably as soon as it is ripe, otherwise as soon as the seed is obtained. It can be very slow and erratic to germinate. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in a shady position in the greenhouse or frame for at least their first winter. Make sure the pots are deep enough to accommodate the roots. Plant out into their permanent positions in late summer. Division in spring.