Plant Part Used

Main and lateral roots. The smaller root hairs are considered an inferior source. There are two types of preparations produced from ginseng: white ginseng, which is prepared by drying the raw herb, and red ginseng, prepared by steaming before drying. Cultivated ginseng differs from wild ginseng and plants from different countries or regions may also differ greatly. Processing of the crude herb to produce red ginseng appears to increase its potency. Steaming has been shown to alter the composition of the ginsenosides; for example, steaming produces the active 20(S)-ginsenoside-Rg(3) (Matsuda et al 2003) and makes certain ginsenosides more cytoxotic (Park et al 2002a).

The British Herbal Pharmacopoeia (1983) stipulates that ginseng should contain not less than 20% solids (70% ethanol). The German Pharmacopoeia requires not less than 1.5% total ginsenosides calculated as ginsenoside Rg 1.

Chewing gums containing ginseng saponins have also been developed and demonstrate therapeutic effects in some trials (Ding et al 2004).

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