Ginseng, Panax Ginseng, is a drug that is characterized by the rich presence of saponins, in particular of steroidic and triterpene saponins, which give it the well-known adaptogen-tonic property. Among all, ginseng is in fact that drug that adequately dresses the definition of "adaptogen", that is that it acts in a non-specific way.
Ginseng performs its action in the brain, improving concentration and waking; it is indeed a stimulant; at cardiac level it increases the frequency and contractile strength of the myocardium; at a musculoskeletal level it improves the reactivity of the nervous stimulus to the muscles; it also acts at an immunological level by stimulating the functionality of the immune system.
Ginseng is a typical drug of Chinese medicine, but also particularly known in the western herbal market; it is widely used as a tonic, recommended even in times of energy loss.
Ginseng comes from a perennial herbaceous plant, called Panax ginseng, belonging to the Araliaceae family. Ginseng is grown at high altitude; plants that give better quality drugs grow between 700 and 1500 meters. The drug is characterized by the root and a short rhizome of anthropomorphic form; ginseng, in fact, means "little man". Ginseng is harvested in plants that are at least four years old, grown mainly in China, Japan and Korea; Korean ginseng is the most prized.
Ginseng is processed in such a way as to give two main types of drugs: white ginseng and red ginseng . White ginseng is obtained by collecting the drug and, after having cleaned it, treating it with sulfur dioxide to eliminate and lighten the outer parts of the root exoderm. Red ginseng, on the other hand, considered the most valuable, has a reddish surface; once collected, it is treated with steam at 120-130 ° C and then placed in an oven; the surface of the drug therefore takes on a shiny and reddish appearance (the drying takes place precisely in the stove).
The active principles of ginseng are ginsenosides (saponins), with a significantly different chemical characterization; they are all saponins, but they have functions that can be divided into different categories, however similar - albeit with different intensity of action - to the tonic properties generally ascribed to ginseng. This variation in intensity also determines the different quality of the drug: white ginseng has certain categories of saponins, while red ginseng has others; above all, ginseng grown in different areas has different properties, depending on the different phytochemical pattern of these saponins.
Ginseng is an extremely used drug together with Eleuterococcus.