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Common Name: Ginseng
Panax ginseng is a perennial plant that can grow up to 0.80 metres tall.
It has edible and medicinal uses.
E. Asia - China, Korea.
Requires a moist humus rich soil in a shady position in a woodland[
Ginseng is widely cultivated and also collected from the wild in the Orient for its root which is commonly used as a medicine[
]. The root is prepared in a number of different ways, including by steaming it for 4 hours in wicker baskets over boiling water[
Root - chewed. This probably refers to its medicinal uses.
A tea is made from the root.
Ginseng has a history of herbal use going back over 5,000 years[
]. It is one of the most highly regarded of herbal medicines in the Orient, where it has gained an almost magical reputation for being able to promote health, general body vigour and also to prolong life[
The root is adaptogen, alterative, carminative, demulcent, emetic, expectorant, stimulant and tonic[
]. It both stimulates and relaxes the nervous system, encourages the secretion of hormones, improves stamina, lowers blood sugar and cholesterol levels and increases resistance to disease[
]. It is used internally in the treatment of debility associated with old age or illness, lack of appetite, insomnia, stress, shock and chronic illness[
]. Ginseng is not normally prescribed for pregnant women, or for patients under the age of 40, or those with depression, acute anxiety or acute inflammatory disease[
]. It is normally only taken for a period of 3 weeks[
]. Excess can cause headaches, restlessness, raised blood pressure and other side effects, especially if it is taken with caffeine, alcohol, turnips and bitter or spicy foods[
]. The roots are harvested in the autumn, preferably from plants 6 - 7 years old, and can be used fresh or dried[
A dose of 10ug/ml of ginseng saponins has been shown to be significantly radio-protective when it is administered prior to gamma-irradiation[
The leaf is emetic and expectorant[
Seed - sow in a shady position in a cold frame preferably as soon as it is ripe, otherwise as soon as the seed is obtained. It can be very slow and erratic to germinate. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in a shady position in the greenhouse or frame for at least their first winter. Make sure the pots are deep enough to accommodate the roots. Plant out into their permanent positions in late summer.
Division in spring.