Chinese Name: Ren shen
Medical Name:
Latin Name: Panax Ginseng
Origin: Root
Taste: Sweet

Quotes from Chinese historical sources

THE HERBAL CLASSIC OF SHEN NONG: "Nourishes the five internal organs, soothes the nerves and spirit, settles the soul, stops the palpitations, eliminates pathogenic factors, clears the eyes, opens the way to happiness and benefits the development of wisdom."

METHODOLOGY OF MEDICATION: "Ginseng is sweet and mild and nourishes the vitality of the lungs. The vigour of the lung controls the other energy of other organs. If the lung energy is vigorous, then the four other organs will also flourish, and the spirit will develop itself and so promote a healthful appearance."

ANNOTATION ON THE HERBAL CLASSIC OF SHEN NONG: "Ginseng can restore positive energy to a spirit which is nearly exhausted, quickly suppressing weak and pathogenic factors. Its main function is to nourish the five internal organs. Although there are five organs, their condition is dependent on the same basic principle, a positive energy which flourishes in the body. When this energy is nourished, it benefits all five internal organs. If the positive energy is weak, these organs will be unable eliminate pathogenic factors, which will remain in the body. If the positive energy is nourished and becomes more substantial, then the organs will ensure that the pathogenic factors do not stay."

Western Research

Mol Pharmacol. 2006 Dec;70(6):1916-24. Epub 2006 Sep 19.
Ginsenoside Re, a main phytosterol of Panax ginseng, activates cardiac potassium channels via a nongenomic pathway of sex hormones.
Furukawa T, Bai CX, Kaihara A, Ozaki E, Kawano T, Nakaya Y, Awais M, Sato M, Umezawa Y, Kurokawa J.
Department of Bio-informational Pharmacology, Medical Research Institute, Tokyo Medical and Dental University, Tokyo, Japan.
Ginseng root is one of the most popular herbs throughout the world and is believed to be a panacea and to promote longevity. It has been used as a medicine to protect against cardiac ischemia, a major cause of death in the West. We have previously demonstrated that ginsenoside Re, a main phytosterol of Panax ginseng, inhibits Ca(2+) accumulation in mitochondria during cardiac ischemia/reperfusion, which is attributable to nitric oxide (NO)-induced Ca(2+) channel inhibition and K(+) channel activation in cardiac myocytes. In this study, we provide compelling evidence that ginsenoside Re activates endothelial NO synthase (eNOS) to release NO, resulting in activation of the slowly activating delayed rectifier K(+) current. The eNOS activation occurs via a nongenomic pathway of each of androgen receptor, estrogen receptor-alpha, and progesterone receptor, in which c-Src, phosphoinositide 3-kinase, Akt, and eNOS are sequentially activated. However, ginsenoside Re does not stimulate proliferation of androgen-responsive LNCaP cells and estrogen-responsive MCF-7 cells, implying that ginsenoside Re does not activate a genomic pathway of sex hormone receptors. Fluorescence resonance energy transfer experiments with a probe, SCCoR (single cell coactivator recruitment), indicate that the lack of genomic action is attributable to failure of coactivator recruitment. Thus, ginsenoside Re acts as a specific agonist for the nongenomic pathway of sex steroid receptors, and NO released from activated eNOS underlies cardiac K(+) channel activation and protection against ischemia-reperfusion injury.

Am J Chin Med 2002;30(4):483-94
Effects of red ginseng upon postoperative immunity and survival in patients with stage III gastric cancer.
Suh SO, Kroh M, Kim NR, Joh YG, Cho MY.
Department of Surgery, Korea University College of Medicine, 126-1 5th-Ga, Anam-Dong Sungbuk-Gu, Seoul, 136-705, Korea.
In this paper, we present evidence that the red ginseng powder from Panax ginseng C.A. Meyer inhibits the recurrence of AJCC stage III gastric cancer and shows immunomodulatory activities during postoperative chemotherapy. Additionally, red ginseng powder may have some immunomodulatory properties associated with CD3 and CD4 activity in patients with advanced gastric cancer during postoperative chemotherapy.

Hum Psychopharmacol 2002 Jan;17(1):35-44
Acute, dose-dependent cognitive effects of Ginkgo biloba, Panax ginseng and their combination in healthy young volunteers: differential interactions with cognitive demand.
Scholey AB, Kennedy DO.
Human Cognitive Neuroscience Unit, Division of Psychology, University of Northumbria, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 8ST, UK. a.
The present paper describes three studies examining the acute effects of single doses of Ginkgo biloba (GK501), Ginseng (G115) and their combination (Ginkoba M/E, Pharmaton SA) on the performance of healthy young adults (mean age 21 years) during serial arithmetic tasks with differing cognitive load. In each double-blind, placebo-controlled study three different treatment doses and a placebo were administered, according to a balanced crossover design, with a 7-day washout period between each dose. Participants' scores on two computerised serial subtraction tasks (Serial Threes and Serial Sevens) were assessed pre-dosing and at 1, 2.5, 4 and 6 h thereafter. A number of significant time, dose and task-specific effects were associated with each treatment. There was a dose-dependent improvement in speed of responding during Serial Threes following Ginkgo biloba. Different doses of Ginseng improved accuracy and slowed responses during Serial Sevens. The most striking result, however, was a highly significant and sustained increase in the number of Serial Sevens responses following 320 mg of the Ginkgo-Ginseng combination at all post-treatment testing times. This was accompanied by improved accuracy during Serial Sevens and Serial Threes following the 640 mg and the 960 mg dose, respectively. The paper concludes with speculation into the possible mechanisms underlying these effects. © 2002 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

J Infect 2002 Jul;45(1):32-8
Anti-septicaemic effect of polysaccharide from Panax ginseng by macrophage activation.
Lim DS, Bae KG, Jung IS, Kim CH, Yun YS, Song JY.
Laboratory of Immunology, Korea Cancer Center Hospital, KAERI, Seoul 139-706, Republic of Korea.
These results suggest that PS from Panax ginseng possess a potent anti-septicaemic activity by stimulating macrophage and a potentiality as an immunomodulator against sepsis occurred by Staphylococcus aureus. Copyright 2002 The British Infection Society

Lancet Oncol 2001 Jan;2(1):49-55
Panax ginseng--a non-organ-specific cancer preventive?
Yun TK.
Laboratory of Experimental Pathology, Korea Cancer Center Hospital, Seoul.
One promising candidate with cancer-preventive effects that are not specific to any organ is Panax ginseng C A Meyer, a herb with a long medicinal history. Its protective influence against cancer has been shown by extensive preclinical and epidemiological studies, but these effects need to be carefully investigated by scientific clinical trials focusing on the major cancer killers stomach, lung, liver, and colorectal cancer.

RESEARCHER'S NOTE: Ginseng is richly represented in the literature, with more than 500 ginseng-related papers appearing on the PubMed database. The texts above form a representative sample.