Xi Yang Shen- American Ginseng

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Xi Yang Shen

Click below for info…

[ Also known as ]  [ Chinese Energetics ]  [ People use it for (indications) ]

[ Dosage ]  [ History ]  [ Botanical Description & Cultivation ]  [ Part Used ]

[ Therapeutic Action ]  [ Chemical Constituents ]  [ Scientific Effectiveness ]

[ Therapeutic Mechanism of action ]  [ Cautions & Contraindications ]

[ Adverse Reactions ]  [ Interactions with herbs foods or supplements ]

[ Interactions with Drugs ]  [ Interactions with lab tests ]

[ Interactions with Diseases or Conditions ]  [ References ]

 

 

Also Known As:

Panax Quinquefolius (L)

American Ginseng, Anchi Ginseng, Canadian Ginseng, Ginseng, North American Ginseng, Ontario Ginseng, Red Berry, Ren Shen, Sang, Tienchi Ginseng, Wisconsin Ginseng, Five fingers, Cherokee root, Jinshard, Garantogen, Ninsin, Manroot, Sei Yang Sam, Fa Kei Sam, Seiyojin

Family: Araliaceae.

 

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Chinese Energetics

Properties:

sweet, bitter, cooling, moistening, restoring, raising, relaxing, nourishing

Meridians:

Heart hand shaoyin, Kidney foot shaoyin, Lung hand taiyin

Actions:

1. tonifies the Qi (Lung, Spleen/Stomach/Intestines- digestive function)

2. nourishes Yin (Lungs)

3. clears Fire from Lung Yin deficiency

4. moistens via generating body fluids

Indications:

- Yin deficiency with Heat (dry cough with blood tinged sputum, insomnia, irritability, night sweat, anxiety, flushed cheeks, loss of voice, wheezing).

- after a febrile disease the Yin is usually damaged

- poor appetite, fatigue, weight loss (emaciation), dyspnea, hot flashes, general weakness, stress, palpitations

- Pulmonary Tuberculosis

 

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People use it for (indications):

increasing resistance to environmental stresses, general tonic, stimulant, diuretic, digestive aid, anemia, diabetes, insomnia, neurasthenia, gastritis, impotence, fever, hangover, immune function, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), pseudomonas infections in cystic fibrosis, aging, stamina, blood and bleeding disorders, atherosclerosis, loss of appetite, vomiting, colitis, dysentery, cancer, insomnia, neuralgia, rheumatism, memory loss, dizziness, headaches, convulsions, and disorders of pregnancy and childbirth.

 

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Dosage:

Traditionally- 2.5-9g is often cooked separately from other herbs in a double boiler.  Good quality is hard, light weight, and aromatic with dense striations on the surface.

Tincture 1-4ml.

With occasional breaks of several days, it can be administered continuously for maintenance in people who tend towards Qi and Lung Yin deficiency.

Science today- young healthy people 0.25-0.5g twice per day, elderly 0.4-0.8g twice per day, children with ADHD 200mg twice daily with Ginkgo Biloba, for reducing postprandial glucose levels in type 2 diabetics 3-9g no more than 2 hours before a meal (this helps avoid potential hypoglycaemia).

Some recommend to take the root for 15-20 days then taking 2 weeks off, repeating as desired.

 

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History

Xi Yang Shen (American Ginseng) was actually discovered in 1716 just north of Montreal Canada by a missionary named Francois Lafiteau. 

In Folk medicine it was used primarily by the Native American tribes; Senecas, Cherokees, Menominees, & Penobscots as a restoing, relaxing, and strengthening tonic.

Once it was adopted by Eupoean Folk settlers & the Chinese, its use expanded to improving stress resistance, preventing aging, improving stamina, blood and bleeding disorders, atherosclerosis, loss of appetitie, vomiting, colitis, dysentery, cancer, insomnia, neuralgia, rheumatism, memory loss, dizziness, headaches, convulsions, chronic illness, lung tuberculosis conditions, and disorders of pregnancy and childbirth.

Today it is used in some soft drinks, soaps and cosmetics.

The older the root, the greater the medicinal properties and price.  The shape is also of utmost importance to the Chinese, a good root is said to be the shape of a young healthy strong man walking tall & comfortable.

In 1976 a four hundred year old root was found on an island off the shore of Korea- it sold for $10,000an once.  Its total weight was fourteen and one-half pounds which meant that its total value was no less than 1.32 million US dollars!  These crazy prices happen through tales of herbalists living healthy lives of over 200 years!?!

 

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Botanical Description & Cultivation

Xi Yang Shen (ginseng) is a perennial herb propagated by seed only.  Seedlings appear about the last of April or the first of May.  At first, they somewhat resemble newly sprouted beans.  They send up the two cotyledons with a stem bearing three green leaves, seldom rising more than two or three inches above the ground.  The work of the plant during the first year is to develop the bud at the crown of the root, which is to produce the next season’s stem and leaves.  In the autumn the stem dies and breaks off, leaving a scar at the side, which is the bud for next season.  In the spring of the second year this bud produces a straight erect stem, at the top of which from two to three leaf stems appear and from five to eleven leaflets.  Occasionally a stem root will send up more than one stem, each developing a top.  The flower stem does not appear the first year, and with but few exceptions does it appear until the third year.  The seed stem which puts forth from the middle of the stem, the first year reaches about an inch in length, increasing until it reaches the extreme height of from four to eight inches.

the stem bears an umbel of small greenish-yellow flowers on little stalks, from one-half to an inch long, the whole forming a compact cluster or umbel.  The number of flowers on each umbel varies from three to more than one hundred.  Like everything else, with this plant, there is a great variation in the number of flowers with the individuals, with age, and with environment.  The flower stem appears soon after the plant unfolds, but it matures the bloom from the first of June to July.  Berries form on each stem of the umbel, and ripen sometimes as early as the latter part of July, continuing on up to frost.  the berries are a bright crimson with a shiny surface, and each berry is from one to four seeded.  The fruit is edible and has a taste similar to the root.

Xi Yang Shen (American ginseng) is a very shy plant and possesses many peculiar traits.  It loves seclusion, and hence is found mostly in unfrequented locations.  It is found growing almost entirely in the shade.  Direct sunlight seems to be nearly always fatal.  The seed s germinate in eighteen months instead of six, as is the case with ordinary plants.  The berries, on the same umbel, vary greatly in time of ripening, number of seed and shape of berry.

The root when deprived of it’s top or bud will lay in the ground all summer forming a new bud for the next spring growth.  The roots may be divided at the neck and treated the same as budless plant, and in the following spring, each will send up a new tip.  the plant is very hardy and may be cultivated with profit, but must be grown in the shade.

The best location is a northern slope, though most any may be used.  Soil should be thoroughly enriched by stirring in leaf mould, stable manure, compost, etc., as the amount of ground occupied by a nursery would be very small.  You can take almost any soil and give it the proper qualities, but the deeper the soil, the better, as it will hold the moisture longer and drain itself better.  Moisture is necessary to the plants, but a heavy, clay, water soaked soil will not do, and a hard subsoil of clay is likely to stay too wet in the spring and too dry in the summer.

After you have your beds prepared and planted, you have but a little cultivation to do, except keeping the weeds pulled out and see that no enemies bother, such as man, beast, or insects, and notice that your plants are kept in healthful condition.

Roots for market should be dug in the fall, as they are not so full of sap, and will lose less in weight.  After plants get seven or eight years old, other roots start from near the top that take the strength from the old roots, which soon become soft and spongy and of little value for drying.  The small top roots can be cut off and used and will grow good plants.

In digging be careful not to break or bruise the roots.  Use a spading fork or some similar tool.  After they are dug, wash immediately before the dirt becomes dry and hard.

They can be dried in or around the stove or in open air.  If roots are not thoroughly dried, they mould and spoil.

After drying put in a clean box and ship away to market.  In every large city you will find dealers in Ginseng.

 

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Part Used:

root

 

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Therapeutic Action:

Adaptogen – these are immune system enhancers which help the body adjust and regulate to restore natural immune resistance to a wide variet of physical, chemical, and biological stresses.  They adapt to what is needed by the body.  Smart!

 

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Chemical Constituents:

saponin glycosides ginsenoside and panaxoside 5-7%, essential oil 3%, camphoraceaous substance, resin, arabinose, mucilage, starch, glucose, polysaccharides, panaxin, panacic acid, panaquilin, panacene, ginsenin, sitosterol, 18 amino acids, trace minerals (copper, zinc, selenium, iodine, manganese).

Panaxin has been shown to stimulate the midbrain, heart and blood vessels.  Panax acid is a stimulant to the heart and to general metabolism.  Panagullin stimulates internal secretions and panacen and sapogenin (volatile oils) stimulate the central nervous system.

Gensenin reduces blood sugar and has a general stimulant effect on the adrenal cortex.  It increases the urine output of corticosteroids, and eosinophil cell counts drop after administration of Xi Yang Shen.

 

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Scientific Effectiveness:

Possibly effective when used orally for reducing post-prandial blood glucose levels in type 2 diabetics.  At least 3 grams up to 2 hours before a meal can significantly reduce postprandial glucose levels, however doses greater than 3 grams do not seem to offer any additional benefit.

Possibly effective when used orally for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) with Ginkgo Biloba.

 

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Therapeutic Mechanism of action:

The principle constituents of American Ginseng are known as ginsenosides or as panaxosides.  It contains primarily ginsenoside Rb-1, which reportedly lowers blood pressure, is antihemolytic, antipyretic, antipsychotic, depresses the CNS, protects the GI from ulcers, increases GI motility, and decreases islet insulin concentrations.  It also decreases LH (leutenizing hormone) levels and seems to increase serum ceruloplasmin oxidase activity (a measure of estrogenic activity in the liver) in  animals.  Some research says it may reduce breast cancer cell growth, although some say its estrogenic effects outweigh its possibility for this use.  It may have immunomodulating activity.  American ginseng also seems to activate monocytes and induce tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha.

Other sources say that is has a neuroendocrine restorative effect.  Treating cerebral deficiencies (chronic depression, memory loss, insomnia).  It is also said that it has a adrenocortical restorative action therefore making it great for the endurance needed by the immune system for stress.  Here it is also said that it can help gonadal and estrogen deficiencies.

A Russian scientist once stated that this root produces and ‘M-Ray’ which is a force quite similar to  the force made when cells divide during mitosis.  He concluded that if faulty cell division is a major cause of aging then this root would prove wonderful for this purpose.  Others after him feel that it helps in the transfer-RNA mobility and DNA coding during protein synthesis.

American Ginseng has a special influence on the endocrine system.  It tones the glands and increases their power and optimal functioning.  This may be why it has been esteemed as an aphrodisiac.  Particularly for men, it has a unique ‘increase of male hormone production’ effect on the male androgens and testes, therefore making it a good choice for impotency and libido.  Also, because of this, it is not recommended for long term use by females as it can induce secondary male characteristics to develop.  Women should not use it for more than a six week period followed by a six month break.

 

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Cautions & Contraindications:

Do not use in cases of Damp-Cold in the Stomach and Intestines. 

Do not use with the Chinese herb Li Lu.

 

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Adverse Reactions:

No adverse reactions have been reported specifically with the use of ‘Panax Quinquefolius’.

 

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Interactions with herbs foods or supplements:

Caffeine, coffee, guarana, mate, & tea all theoretically can potentiate the stimulant effects of American Ginseng. 

 

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Interactions with Drugs:

Antidiabetic drugs- together with American Ginseng may induce a hypoglycaemic state, monitor blood glucose levels closely to adjust herb/drug dosage.

Antipsychotic drugs

Hormone therapy

Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOI’s)- have been reports of this combination causing insomnia, headache, tremors, and hypomania.

Stimulant drugs

Warfarin

 

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Interactions with lab tests:

May distort outcome of blood glucose tests, because of its hypoglycaemic activity.

 

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Interactions with Diseases or Conditions:

Bleeding conditions- can decrease blood coagulation.

Cardiac conditions- may have negative inotropic and chronotropic activity and hypotensive effects.

Diabetes- has hypoglycaemic activity, use with caution.

Hormone sensitive cancers or conditions- because of its estrogenic effects it should be avoided during breast, uterine, or ovarian cancer, endometriosis, and uterine fibroids.

Insomnia- it may worsen this condition in some patients.

Schizophrenia- may cause insomnia or agitation.

 

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References:
  • Benskey & Gamble 1986, Chinese Herbal Medicine Materia Medica, Seattle Washington, Eastland Press
  • Meyer, David 1986, The Herbalist, Glenwood Ilinois, Meyerbooks
  • Willard, Terry 1993, Textbook of modern herbology 2nd edition, Calgary Alberta, C. W. Progressive Publishing Group Inc.
  • Willard , Tery 1992, Textbook of Advanced Herbology, Calgary Alberta, C. W. Progressive Publishing Group Inc.
  • Holmes, Peter 1997, The Energetics of Western Herbs vol. 1, Boulder Colorado, Snow Lotus Press
  • Et al 2003, Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database 5th edition, Stockton California, Therapeutic Research Faculty

 

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Chinese Herbal Medicine: Materia Medica

Benskey and Gamble

 

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