Ginseng is a tonic herb which is considered an adaptogen, providing non-specific protection against various mental, physical and environmental forms of stress. Panax ginseng is a slow-maturing perennial herb native to the mountain forests of northeastern China, Korea, and Russia. The plant is cultivated extensively in China, Japan, Korea, Russia, Canada and Wisconsin in the US. Ginseng usually starts flowering at its fourth year and the roots take four to six years to reach maturity. Panax ginseng is one of the most heavily cultivated and widely consumed herbs on earth.
Ginseng root consists of the dried main root, lateral roots and root hairs or "tailings" of P. ginseng. Ginseng root need to contains at least 1.5% ginsenosides, such as ginsenoside Rg1. Natural unprocessed ginseng root is white in appearance. So-called red ginseng root is prepared from white ginseng by various processing methods, such as steaming the fresh root before drying. Panax ginseng is sold in types and grades, depending on its geographic origin, root maturity, parts of the root used (main root or "tailings"), and methods of preparation or processing such as bleaching or processing into "red" root.
In Asian medicine, dried ginseng is used as a tonic to revitalize and replenish vital energy, which is referred to as qi or chi. Ginseng extract powder is traditionally used as an aid during convalescence and as a prophylactic to build resistance, reduce susceptibility to illness, and promote health and longevity. In traditional Chinese medicine Panax ginseng is usually prescribed in combination with other herbs as "teapot" medicine.
Panax ginseng is listed in the national pharmacopeias of China, Japan, Russia, Austria, France, Germany and Switzerland. Ginseng extract is widely used to treat fatigue, impotence, lack of appetite, headache, dizziness, cancer and rheumatism. The Pharmacopoeia of the People's Republic of China indicates its use for prostration with impending collapse marked by cold limbs and faint pulse; diminished function of the spleen with loss of appetite; diabetes caused by "internal heat"; general weakness with irritability and insomnia in chronic diseases; impotence or frigidity; and heart failure and cardiogenic shock.
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