Ginseng

Panax ginseng describes the root from two species of plants, Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng) and American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius), popularly used for improving stamina and providing a sense of well-being. The terms red and white ginseng refer to how the root is processed, not the species of origin. Red ginseng roots are steam-cured prior to drying, while white ginseng is bleached and dried. Panax ginsengs contain triterpenoid saponins called ginsenosides (also called panaxosides), of which up to 18 types are recognized as having differing and sometimes opposing pharmacological properties.

Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus) should not be confused with Panax ginseng. Although it belongs to the same plant family (Araliaceae), it is a much larger, more abundant, and consequently less expensive plant. Like Panax ginseng, however, it is used as a tonic and adaptogen, a nonmedical term meaning that it helps the body adapt to stress in a variety of ways. Siberian ginseng does contain saponins (eleutherosides) but no ginsenosides. To date, in spite of its popularity, there is little conclusive evidence of clinical efficacy.

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