Ginseng. Ginseng roots

Ginseng. Ginseng roots

Ginseng. Ginseng roots

Specification & Spread

Ginseng roots — radices ginseng
Ginseng — panax ginseng с.а. меу.
Ginseng family — araliaceae
Other names: man-plant, jin-seng, root of life.

It is a perennial herbaceous plant up to 80 cm tall, reaching the age of 50-70 years or more. It has a succulent taproot, giving, as a rule, one above-ground stalk, at the top of which there is a whorl of 4-5 leaves.
The leaves are long-petiolate, 3-5-palmately compound, the leaflets are elliptical, acuminate, finely bipedate along margin. The bottom two leaves are much smaller than the rest.
A long peduncle comes out from the center of the leaf whorl, ending with a simple umbrella carrying small greenish pentamerous ordinary-looking flowers.
The fruit is a bright red juicy coenocarpic drupe with two seeds. The preparations are tightly pressed against each other, formed a «red ball», clearly visible in the fall among the green foliage.

It blooms in June – July, the fruits ripen in August. It is propagated by seeds.

Other types of ginseng

Korean ginseng roots are red and white for medical use.
The red root is translucent, has a hornlike consistency, is very hard and heavy, the surface is longitudinally deep wrinkled, and on the cross-section is finely folded; thin roots are fragile.
The «body» of the root is spindle-shaped or almost cylindrical, the «neck» and the «head» are usually absent, in some specimens at the top there are traces of 1-3 stems. There are few branches, in the upper part there are 1-2 processes, in the lower part there are 2-3 processes and more. The root lobes are usually trimmed and come separately, connected in small packs. The colour on the outside and on the fracture is reddish-brown.
The taste is sweetish, then is bitter. Obtained by subjecting hot steam to roots for 30 minutes or more and then drying at 30 °C.
The white root is different from the red in color, from the outside it is whitish-yellow, white and mealy on the break. It is received as a result of simple drying of roots on the sun.

Spreading. It grows wild in Russia in the Far East, in the Ussuri taiga – in Primorsky and in the south of the Khabarovsk Territory; it grows also in China, Korea, Japan. However, wild plants are almost destroyed, and its search does not always give positive results. Ginseng is listed in the Red Book of the RSFSR (1988). The work is underway on the cultivation of ginseng in the Primorsky Territory, in the North Caucasus and in other regions of Russia.

Habitat. It grows in the deaf mountain cedar and mixed forests, mainly on the northern shaded slopes, in the thickets of ferns and shrubs. It is a shade-loving plant, therefore it does not grow in sparse forests with wide access of sunlight. It requires humus, fairly moist, but not moist soil. It grows single instances.


The chemical composition of ginseng

The study of the chemical composition of ginseng roots is mainly engaged in the scientists of our country and Japan.

Roots contain:

  • Triterpene tetracyclic saponins of the dammaran row are panaxosides (ginsenosides), whose glycols are protopanaxdiol and protopanaxstriol, which are converted into an acidic medium into panaxdiol and panaxstriol.

In addition, ginseng roots are contained in:

  • essential oil (0.25-0.5%),
  • fatty oil,
  • phytosterols,
  • tar,
  • pectic substances (up to 23%),
  • starch,
  • vitamins,
  • fatty acids, a mixture of which is called panax acid,
  • many trace elements – iron, manganese, silver, etc.

Root ash is more than half phosphate.

Harvesting and storage of raw materials

Harvesting. Harvesting of wild ginseng roots is made under licenses by specialists («ginseng seekers») in the fall, at a time when it is easier to find among other plants.

Security measures. Harvesting young roots weighing less than 10 g is not allowed. Although rare, specimens weighing 300-400 g from old, 100-200-year-old plants are found. Ginseng is a rare and valuable medicinal plant, so it must be carefully preserved, otherwise it will be completely destroyed in the coming years. Currently, ginseng is cultivated in China, Japan and more widely in Korea, where this branch of medicinal plant growing plays a significant role in the country’s economy. In Russia, grown in a specialized farm «Ginseng» in the Primorsky Territory. Ginseng culture is very laborious. The maximum mass of roots of 5-6 years of age is 300 g and more. The roots are harvested on plantations from plants aged 5-8 years. There is developed industrial biotechnology culture of ginseng tissue.

Drying. Depending on theapplication, the roots are kept fresh (raw materials are exported) or dried in the sun or in dryers at a temperature of about 50 ºС.

External signs of raw materials

Whole raw materials

The roots are up to 25 cm long, 0.7-2.5 cm thick, with 2-5 large branches, less often without it. The roots are taped, longitudinally, rarely spiral-wrinkled and fragile, the fracture is smooth. The «body» of the root is thickened, almost cylindrical, at the top with clearly expressed annular thickenings. In the upper part of the root there is a narrowed transversely wrinkled rhizome – «neck». The rhizome is short, with several scars from fallen stems, at the top forms a «head», which is an expanded stem residue and apical bud (sometimes 2-3). Sometimes one or several adventitious roots depart from the «neck». «Neck» and «head» may be missing.
The coloг of the roots from the surface and on the cut is yellowish-white, on the fresh break the white.
The smell is specific. The taste is sweet, burning, then bitter.

Properties and application

Pharmacotherapeutic group. General tonic.

The pharmacological properties and application of ginseng

For many centuries, ginseng roots are used in all countries of the Far East, now they are widely used in all countries of the world.
Scientific research has established that the plant has:

  • tonic
  • stimulating and
  • adaptogenic effect in case of physical and mental fatigue, impaired activity of the cardiovascular system, hypofunction of the sex glands, neurasthenia, after suffering a debilitating disease.

It lowers blood cholesterol and glucose levels and activates the activity of the adrenal glands.


Medications with ginseng are contraindicated for people suffering from nervousness, increased irritability and insomnia, hypertension. Also individual intolerance. With caution during pregnancy and lactation.