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Panax Ginseng | Ren Shen | What You Need to Know

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Everything You Need to Know About Ginseng

All ginsengs are not created equal, and the differences between them are significant. There are three different herbs that are marketed as ginseng:


• Panax Ginseng, Asian Ginseng (REN SHEN)
• Panax quinquefolium, American Ginseng (XI YANG SHEN) 
• Eleutherococcus senticosus, Siberian Ginseng, (CI WU JIA)


Panax ginseng (REN SHEN ) 

aka Asian Ginseng

Panax Ginseng's Nature

Panax Ginseng is sweet and slightly bitter in flavor, slightly warm in nature, and acts on the heart, spleen and lung channels. It can restore collapse and slowly tonify (strengthen) long-term deficiencies. It is the go-to herb to treat collapse due to overwork or exhaustion.
 

Panax or Asian ginseng is generally sourced from China, Korea, and Japan.  The herb grows best in the hard ground of a colder climate.  The higher qualities are wildcrafted, but cultivated ginseng can also be quite potent. It is classified in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) as a 'Qi Tonic' (energy strengthener).  It is said to effect the body's energy by way of digestion, so it is called a 'Spleen Tonic', as TCM regards the organ system known as 'the Spleen' to regulate digestion, assimilation, and the transformation of food to the various forms of energy employed by the body's organs.

 

Red Ginseng vs. White Ginseng

There are two types of Panax Ginseng root.  Raw White Panax ginseng is unprocessed and has milder properties than red processed Panax ginseng.  Red ginseng has been steamed together with other herbs to make it both stronger and warmer in nature.

 

Properties of REN SHEN (Panax Ginseng)

Many different benefits are attributed to ginseng.  In choosing to use ginseng, you'll want to distinguish truth from legend. The following are our considered opinions:

Ginseng Builds Endurance

We think so.  According to the vast knowledge and history of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), REN SHEN builds Spleen (digestive) Qi, allowing for better transformation of food energy (GU QI) into energy your body can use.  Numerous studies have shown this to be true.  Athletes have been known to use ginseng as a legal performance enhancer, but there is no conclusive evidence that it works in this manner.

 

Ginseng Gives You Energy

Yes and No. Ginseng will improve your energy if you are fatigued because of a digestive weakness, however this doesn't make ginseng a panacea for fatigue, as there are many reasons for fatigue other than digestive (Spleen) deficiency. 



Ginseng Improves Mental Function


Probably. According to the experience of many and the research of a few, ginseng can enhance concentration and cognition. Research conducted at Nantong University in China, examined  this claim.  The study concluded that "ginseng appears to have some beneficial effects on cognition, behavior and quality of life." In another study in the Journal of Dairy Science, researchers a developed ginseng fortified milk that was claimed to improve cognitive function.



Ginseng Has an Anti-inflammatory Effect

Not according to TCM, but maybe, according to modern research. Ginseng contains seven different chemical constituents called ginsenosides, which may have anti-inflammatory effects, according to an article published in the Journal of Translational MedicineThe author believes that "the anti-inflammatory role of ginseng may be due to the combined effects of these ginsenosides".

 

Ginseng Helps Erectile dysfunction?


Sorry, but not for most men. According to TCM, and despite what you may have heard, ginseng is considered to have little value for sexual performance or appetite. Though there are Chinese herbs, such as  Horny Goat Weed (Epimedium), or GOU QI ZI (Lycii), that do boost sexual performance.  Nonetheless, many men still take ginseng to treat erectile dysfunction. To be fair, A 2002 Korean study did find that 60 percent of men who took ginseng for ED perceived an improvement in their symptoms. Also, research in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology concluded that there is "evidence for the effectiveness of red ginseng in the treatment of erectile dysfunction.



Ginseng Prevents the Flu.


Not according to TCM.  However research in the International Journal of Molecular Medicine points to a possible link between ginseng and the prevention of influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). This study, conducted with mice found that red ginseng improved the survival of human lung epithelial cells infected with influenza virus.


 
Ginseng Extends Life 


Yes, at least according to TCM's experience. REN SHEN is prized because, it alone, among all traditional herbs, strengthens the original QI (YUAN QI).  YUAN QI is the vital energy with which we have at birth and which animates our being. When we have YUAN QI, we are alive. When it's gone, life is gone. 

 

Ginseng Relieves Thirst


Quite possibly.  According to TCM, Ginseng Invigorates Spleen-qi and Lung-qi,
promoting the production of the body fluids.  However American Ginseng is far better for treating dryness and thirst.


Ginseng Helps You Sleep


Surprisingly yes; very small doses have a mild sedative effect. REN SHEN can tranquilize and Calm the Spirit when taken is very small doses.  Because of this it can be combined with other herbs to treat palpitations and insomnia. 


Panax Ginseng Safety 

Careful: Large doses of Panax Ginseng can raise blood pressure.

Traditional Chinese Medicine is powerful and reliable, but it can be complex. As TCM is not based on symptoms alone, self-diagnosis and self-treatment aren't recommended. Best to start a low cost online-herbal-consultation.


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How to Take Ginseng

 

Ginseng can be chewed, brewed, swallowed or stewed. No matter if it is taken as a tea, lozenge, pill, powder, or food, it is essential to use a medicinal grade root. 

Using dried ginseng root is best. First cut it into dime sized slices. Note: Ginseng will slice easily after it has been warmed in the oven for a few minutes or in the microwave for a few seconds (alternatively, you can buy it already sliced). The slices can now be chewed or brewed. Sucking and swallowing slices of Ginseng provides a quick method of dosage and oral satisfaction. To brew tea with Ginseng, use 3-9 grams per person. Double boiling is preferred. Slow boil herb slices for about one hour, and drink the tea on an empty stomach. 

 



How To Buy Ginseng


The price of Oriental or American ginseng can vary greatly. Soup grade ginseng can sell for a few dollars at the grocery; while the highest grades will bring over $10,000 per root. What determines the value of Oriental or American ginseng? 


• Roots gathered from the wild are far more costly than those cultivated on a farm.
• Wildcrafted roots don't contain traces of the fungicides used on cultivated roots. 
• Roots that resemble a human form are more valuable than those that do not.
• Big roots are more valuable than small ones. Thick is preferable to thin. 
• Old roots are said to be stronger than fresh ones. 
• Strong characteristic taste and smell also indicate quality. 

 
Ginseng Extracts (Ginseng pills and liquids)

Like every other herb, ginseng is made up of hundreds of different chemicals. Standardized ginseng extracts are rated by the percentage of ginsenosides they contain. Scientists believe ginsenosides create ginseng's effects

Herbalists, however, generally believe that the effects of any herb depend on many chemical components interacting together. That is why most TCM herbalists prefer whole herbs or simple water extractions over standardized extracts.
Also, extracts are often taken from herbs that have poor appearance, weak taste, and lower potency. 

Low-temperature water extracts, which have not been chemically manipulated in order to standardize ginsanocides, are more like the herb as it is found in nature.


Organic Ginseng

Ginseng that is truly gathered in the wild (wildcrafted) is likely free of fertilizers and pesticides. However, to be called "organic", ginseng must be certified by a third party organization recognized under the Organic Food Production Act (OFPA). This law can be accessed through the USDA website at: http://www.nal.usda.gov/afsic/pubs/ofp/ofp.shtml.



Methods of certification vary from state to state, and until very recently, there were no Chinese certification agencies recognized by federal authorities. This picture is beginning to change.  More and more batches of certified organic ginseng are becoming available, as markets adapt to the demand for organic herbs.
These extracts are, of course, only as potent as the herbs from which they came.


 
Ginseng Research

Ginsenoside Re of Panax ginseng possesses significant antioxidant and antihyperlipidemic efficacies in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats.      • Cho WC,    • Chung WS,    • Lee SK,    • Leung AW,    • Cheng CH,    • Yue KK. School of Chinese Medicine, Hong Kong Baptist University, 7 Baptist University Road, Hong Kong, China. williamcscho@gmail.com  This report demonstrates that ginsenoside Re has an antioxidant effect in diabetes, and prevents the onset of oxidative stress. It demonstrated that ginsenoside Re could lower blood glucose and lipid levels, and have protective actions against oxidative stress in the eye and kidney of diabetic rats. The data also provide evidence that ginsenoside Re could be used as an effective antidiabetic agent.   
Increase of acetylcholine release by Panax ginseng root enhances insulin secretion in Wistar rats.
   • Su CF,
   • Cheng JT,
   • Liu IM.

Department of Nursing Sciences, National Tainan Institute of Nursing, Tainan City 70201, Taiwan, ROC. 

The study was designed to determine the effect of Panax ginseng root on plasma glucose.  It concludes that it is possible that P. ginseng root mediates the release of ACh from nerve terminals to enhance insulin secretion. The results suggest that P. ginseng root has the ability to increase the release of ACh from nerve terminals in rats so as to stimulate muscarinic M(3) receptors located in the pancreatic cells to boost the secretion of insulin, which lowers plasma glucose. 

PMID: 17123721 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]


20(S)-Ginsenoside Rg3 prevents endothelial cell apoptosis via inhibition of a mitochondrial caspase pathway.
   • Min JK,
   • Kim JH,
   • Cho YL,
   • Maeng YS,
   • Lee SJ,
   • Pyun BJ,
   • Kim YM,
   • Park JH,Kwon YG.

Department of Biochemistry, College of Sciences, Yonsei University, Seoul, Republic of Korea. 

Ginseng has been widely used in traditional oriental medicine for its wide spectrum of medicinal effects, such as anti-inflammatory, anti-tumorigenic, adaptogenic, and anti-aging activities. Its medicinal effects are attributed to the triterpene glycosides known as ginsenosides. This study reports a novel anti-apoptotic activity of 20(S)-ginsenoside Rg3 ((20S)Rg3) and its underlying molecular mechanism in human endothelial cells (ECs). Results suggest that (20S)Rg3 prevents EC apoptosis via Akt-dependent inhibition of the mitochondrial apoptotic signaling pathway. The novel property of (20S)Rg3 may be valuable for developing new pharmaceutical means that will control unwanted endothelial cell death at the site of vascular injury. 

PMID: 16962070 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]



Prevention of cerebral oxidative injury by post-ischemic intravenous administration of Shengmai San.
   • Ichikawa H,
   • Wang L,
   • Konishi T.

Niigata University of Pharmacy and Applied Life Sciences, Department of Functional and Analytical Food Sciences, Higashijima 265-1, Niigata-city, Niigata, 956-8603, Japan. 

Shengmai San (SMS) is a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) with three different herbal components, Panax ginseng, Ohiopogon japonicus and Fructus schisandrae. It has has been used for treating coronary heart diseases (Bensky and Barolet, 1990). It was shown that, in rats, SMS effectively prevented cerebral oxidative injury in rats. The above study, examined whether post-ischemic administration of SMS can reduce cerebral ischemia-reperfusion injury.


Results showed that SMS injected immediately after ischemia prevented the ischemia-reperfusion injury.  The preventative potential of SMS decreased rapidly depending on the time lag until SMS was injected. However, it was noted that intravenously administered SMS protected the injury approximately 30%, even after 60 min of reperfusion. It is thus suggested that SMS injection might be useful for preventing the progression of injury in cerebral infarction after stroke. 

PMID: 16883630 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]


* These statements have not been evaluated by the US Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Pregnant or nursing women should consult their health care provider before taking any supplement.
 






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