Ginseng – An immunomodulator

Biological Source: Dried roots of
1. Panax ginseng (China)
2. Panax notoginseng (Korea)
3. Panax quinquefolium (American)
4. Panax japonica (Japanese)
5. Panax pseudoginseng (himalayan)
6. Panax vietnamensis (Vietnames)
Family: Araliaceae
Panax, derived from Greek Panakos, a “panacea”, or a “cure-all”


  • It is propagated by seeds in nursery beds in the month of November.
  • When plants are a few inches high,transplanted into permanent fields.
  • Requires clay loam or sandy loam, but much shade.
  • It grows at altitude from 100-800 meters.
  • The soil with high amount of potassium gives better result.


The plants are harvested 3-5 years after transplantation.
Generally they are harvested between July to October.

Two types of Ginseng is obtained:
1. White Ginseng: By removing the outer layer of the roots.
2. Red Ginseng: by first steaming the roots and after that they are dried artificially followed by Sun drying.
Removal of Outer layer may lead to loss of active constituents.

Commercial Varieties
1. Panax ginseng (China)
2. Panax notoginseng (Korea)
3. Panax quinquefolium (American)
4. Panax japonica (Japanese)
5. Panax pseudoginseng (himalayan)
6. Panax vietnamensis (Vietnames)


Chemical Constituents
Major components include: Triterpenoid saponins.
1. Ginsenosides (about 30 identified according to their Rf values. i.e.-R0, Ra, Rb1, Rb2………….). The root, the organ most often used, contains saponin complexes.

These are often split into two groups: the Rb1 group (characterized by the protopanaxadiol presence : Rb1, Rb2, Rc and Rd) and the Rg1 group (protopanaxatriol: Rg1, Re, Rf, and Rg2)


Appears to be most abundant in Panax quinquefolius (American Ginseng).

Rb1 seems to affect the reproductive system in animal testicles.

Recent research shows that Rb1 affects rat embryo development and has teratogenic effects, causing birth defects.

Another study shows that Rb1 may increase testosterone production in male rats indirectly through the stimulation

of the luteinizing hormone. Traditional Chinese medicine asserts that Panax quinquefolius promotes yin in the body.

It also inhibits chemoinvasion and angiogenesis.


Ginsenoside Rg2 appears also to be abundant in Panax ginseng and could protect memory impairment via anti-apoptosis in a rat model with vascular dementia.

Rg2 is a ?-L-Rha??-D-Glc glycoside of panaxatriol.


2. Panaxosides: Panaxosides are termed as Panaxosides A, Panaxosides B, Panaxosides C etc.

On hydrolysis Panaxosides yield, Panaxdiol, Panaxtriol and Oleanolic acid.


Note :- Ginseng root therefore contains mixture of both tetracyclic and pentacyclic triterpenoid saponins.

3. Other Compounds: Panaxosides High molecular weight polysaccharides (Glycans), Acetylenic compounds and sesquiterpenes (?-elemene, ginsenol etc.)



Codonopsis tangshen, used by the poor people of china as a substitute of costly ginseng.


  • Senega root (Polygala senega)
  • Verginian Snake root (Aristolochia serpentaria) by accidentally during collection.


Macroscopic Features:

Colour– Yellowish brown, white or Red.
Shape– Cylinderical may be curved.
Size: about 20 cm long and 2.5 cm in diameter
They are translucent and possess the stem scars.

Microscopic Features :

  • Thin-walled parenchymatous cells are present with fragments of large secretory canals containing yellowish-brown resin.
  • It contains partially-lignified vessels with spiral or reticular thickening.
  • Cluster crystals of calcium oxalate is present.
  • Starch granules are very abundant.



Used primarily in the following conditions:

  • Anaemia.
  • Diabetes.
  • Gastritis.
  • Impotence.
  • Many conditions arising from the onset of the old age.
  • In recent times it is very popular remedy for the improvement of stamina, concentration, resistance to stress and to disease.

1 responses on "Ginseng - An immunomodulator"

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