The Efficacy of Korean Ginseng as an Oriental Medicine

Korean Ginseng

The chemical composition of Ginseng

1. Saponin Composition in Ginseng
Early in 1854, Garriques of the U.S.A isolated a saponin fraction from American ginseng, Panax quinquefolium L., and named it “panaquion.” In 1957, about a century later, the Russian scientist Dr, I.I.Breakhman published a monograph entitled Panax ginseng (Zhen-Shen). In the monograph, he suggests that saponon was an active component. He also presented an adaptogen theory which described how the active component of Korean ginseng nonspecifically improves physical debility. The active component was called “adaptogen.” Soon thereafter, isolating and characterizing saponin and fractions, ginsenosides from Korean ginseng were achived by the Japanese scientists Drs. S. Shibata and O. Tanaka. Their work served as a stepping stone in the advancement of ginseng research.

Saponin Composition

1) The types of ginseng saponins
Ginseng saponins, ginsenosides, are composed of a sugar (glycon) portion and a non-sugar (aglycon) portion. Aglycon, the backbone of ginsenosides, is classified into three types : protopanaxadiol, protopanaxatriol, and oleanoic acid. Protopanaxadiol and protopanaxatriol and retracyclic terpenes of the dammarane series: oleanoic acid is not.
Until now, a total of 29 types have been found in Korean Ginseng. In 1964, Shimata named the composition of Saponins as hinsemoside meaning Sugar material contained in ginseng. According to the order of movement seperating from TLC, ginsenoside-Ro and Also, there is another characteristic that ginsenoside. Rb₁, Rb₂, -Rc and -Rd contain lots of the malony1 radical compound. Generally, it has 29 kinds of Saponins that are even in comparison so that it is distinguished from other plants belonging to different species of the same genus.

2) Characteristics of Korean ginseng in accordance with Saponin composition
① Korean ginseng… total 29 types (Ro, Ra₁, Ra₂, Ra₃, Rb₁, Rb₂, Rb
② American ginseng…total 13 types (Ro, Rb
③ Sanchi ginseng…total 14 types (Ro, Rb
④ Chikuseteu ginseng… 3 types (Ro etc.)

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3) Ginsenoside Content of IL HWA Ginseng Products
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2. Saccharoids.
Ginseng (fresh roots / dried roots / extract) contains about 60 to 70% of various types of carbohydrates, Rhamnose, Fructose, Glucose, Sucrose, Maltose, etc. (not to mention saponins)

Sugar content of ginseng products
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Organic acids
Ginseng contains nonvolatile organic acids such as Citric acid, Malic acid, Succinic acid, Ketoglutamic acid, Pyruvic acid, and G acid. As well as volatile acids such as Acetic acid, Propionic acid, iso-Butyric acid, n-Butylic iso-valeric acid, n-valeric acid n-Caproic acid, iso-Heptyric acid, n-Heptyric acid, and others.

4. Liposoluble nutrients.
Ginseng has about 2% of liposoluble ingredients. The Crude lipid and purified lipid content are as follows:
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Lipid acids in ginseng consist of myristic acid, palmitic acid, palmitoeic acid, stearic acid, oleic acid, lleic acid, arachidonic acid, linolenic acid, behonic acid, erucic lignoceric acid, and nervonic acid.

5. Nitrogenous compounds
Nitrogenous compounds (15%) are composed of proteins, Amino acids, peptidenucleic acid, alkaloid, etc., and have amino acids such as aspartic acid, threonin, serine, glutamic acid, glycine, alanine, valine, cystine, methionine, isoleucine, leucine, tyrosine, lysine, histidine, arginine, proline, and trace amounts of some others.

6. Vitamin Compounds and Minerals
Vitamin compounds contained in Korean ginseng are Niacin, Ascorbic acid, Pantothenic acid, Biotine, Folic acid, Riboflavin, etc. and Minerals are P, K, Ca, Mg, Al, Fe, Cu, Zn, Mo, Mn, etc.

7. Other
There are also organic compounds such as Salicylic acid, Vanillic acid, P-Hydroxycinnamic acid, and so on.

 The Efficacy of Korean Ginseng as an Oriental Medicine

There are three classes of oriental (Chinese) medicine: mild, moderate, and curative.
Mild medicine, or “noble” medicine, is a tonic that invigorates the body. Long-term intake produces no harmful or habit-forming ill effects.
Moderate medicine exerts both tonic and prophylactic effects.
Thus it can be either toxic or non-toxic depending on the individual’s physical condition.
Curative medicine must be carefully administered only by licensed medical doctors since long-term use may be harmful. In a simplified version of Shen Nung’s Pharmacopoeia edited by HungChing Tao of China around A. D. 500, Korean Panax Ginseng is classified as mild or noble.

Seven Effects of Korean Ginseng
1. Reduces fatigue, increases stamina, and strengthens the general physical condition.
2. Exerts a hematopoietic action (formation of red blood cells), protecting against anemia, hypotension, and heart ailments.
3. Improves mental conditions, preventing neurosis and nervous breakdowns.
4. Increases the secretion of body fluids and quenches thirst, prevents diabetes.
5. Strengthens the gastrointestinal system, preventing gastroenteritis, diarrhea, and constipation.
6. Normalizes pulmonary functions, preventing coughing, tuberculosis, and asthma.
7. Detoxifies poisons, preventing skin irritation, inflammation, and skin diseases.

If we examine it from the pharmacological point of view of Chinese medicine, we discover that materials whose curative nature is warm (yang) cure cold (yin) diseases. The fact that ginseng is classified as yang means that it can cure diseases. Fevers are divided into real and consumptive.
Real fever raises the body temperature and includes pyrexia, rigor, etc. Consumptive fever has such symptoms as thirst, lack of energy and exhaustion.
Korean ginseng is classified as a mild medicine among all medicines to aid virility. The fact that ginseng, among mild medicines, is yang means that it cures diseases. Korean ginseng contains a greater diversity of medicinal qualities than other ginsengs, and is known for stress prevention. The nonsaponin ingredients of Korean ginseng are remarkably higher than those of Chinese ginseng.

Effect of Korean Ginseng : the View of Modern Science

Korean ginseng has been considered as a medicine, and its effectiveness has been recognized throughout history.

1. Effects on the Circulatory System.
The action of telangiectasia, improvement of the blood by reducing peripheral resistance, and connecting with the metabolism of the marrow.
Prevention of cerebral thrombosis by controlling irregular coagulation of blood.
Coexistence of such components as Rg, Rb and Rc helps keep blood pressure normal.

2. Effects on the Metabolism
Promotion of fatty matter, protein and nucleic acid, and of the regeneration of new liver cells.
Effects on all kinds of zymogen related to alcohol metabolism. Prevention of diabetes by diminishing high blood sugar, and the promotion of insulin production.
Prevention of skin dehydration by stimulating the circulation of blood and regulating the moisture balance in the skin.

3. Effects on the Immune System
Ginseng suppresses the multiplication of cancerous cells and in some cases has been shown to change them into cells performing normal functions.
Delay of the development of AIDS from HIV infection.
As an anti-carcinogenic, immunity agent or inhibitor of the effects of environmental pollution.

4.Action on the Central Nervous System
The panaxtriol of ginseng saponins relieves lethargy and the panaxadiol pacifies hyperactive nerves.
Normalization of the autonomic nerve system by increasing catecholamine in the brain.
Promotion of one’s learning ability, memory, and its effects of anti-stress, anti-fatigue.
Control of erratic mental phenomenon generated by chronic dosages of cocaine.

5. Effects on the Digestive System
Stimulation of the stomache’s activity by promoting blood circulation in the gastric mucous membrane.
Functional improvement of the stomach and bowels and dispelling of all kinds of mental stress.

6.Defensive Effect against Radiation
Protection and recovery from radiation sickness.

7. Effect as a Male Reproductive Tonic

8. Prevention of Symptoms of Senility

9. Effect on Women’s Diseases
beneficial to be taken together with a pain-killer for menstrual pain.
Warming of the whole body by promoting blood circulation of the peripheral nervous system and the dispelling body heat.
Effective in reversing the decline of energy in men, and of frigidity in women.



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