About Herb Ren Shen (Ginseng)

Rén Shen (Ginseng)

Ginseng (Ren Shen) is a popular herbal tonic that combat fatigue and boosts our immune-system function. The botanical name is known as Panax ginseng C. A. Mey. and the Pharm. name is Radix Ginseng. The plant’s medicinal portion is the root, tasted sweet and slightly bitter. It is warm in property and enters the lung, spleen and heart organs and its meridians.


  1. To replenish the Qi (vital energy)
  2. To promote the secretion of body fluids
  3. To tonify the spleen and lung
  4. Sedative, cardiotonic and anti-fatigue


  1. Shock and prostration
  2. Diarrhea and loss of appetite due to the hypofunction of the spleen
  3. Dehydration, diabetes
  4. Palpitation, insomnia, forgetfulness
  5. Fatigue, extreme weakness


For a person with true heat and pathogenic fever factors

Chemical Component:

Panaxosides, essential oil (panacene, panaxynol), saponin (ginsenoside), protopanaxadiol, protopanaxatriol. Recommended Dosage: 3-9 gm. (30gm. For shock)

Pharm. Action:

  1. Action on the central nervous system:
    • Balance the excitatory and inhibitory process of the cerebral cortex
    • Enhance the conditioned reflex
    • Increase the ability of analysis
    • Reduce fatigue – can prolong the swimming time of rats
  2. Influence on the response of the organism:
    • Similar action as the adaptogen – can increase the defence ability of the organism
    • Prevent the febrile action caused by injection of vaccines in rabbits
    • Increase the process of healing in injury situations
    • Reduce the toxicity of certain chemicals
    • Anti-histamine – no significant anti-histamine reaction
  3. Action on the endocrine system:
    • Excitatory action on the pituitary-adrenal cortex system
      • increase the function on the adrenal cortex system
      • increase the immunity response to outside stimuli
      • increase the resistance to diseases
    • Stimulate the pituitary gland to produce more sex hormones
    • Increase the function of the thyroid in a short period if a large dosage of ginseng is given to the rabbits
    • Anti-diuretic – action similar to dehydroxycortisone
  4. Action on the metabolism:
    • Reduce blood sugar – synergistic action with insulin
    • Regulate the metabolism of cholesterol – prevent the incidence of hypercholesterolemia
    • Increase appetite and absorption of the digestive system
    • Increase the synthesis of protein ribose and nuleic acid
  5. Action on the circulatory system:
    • Cardiac tonic – action similar to cardiac glycoside. A small dosage can increase the contraction of heart, but a large dosage can cause toxic reaction.
    • Stimulate the production of red and white blood cells
  6. Action on the reticuloendothelial system:
    • Increase the immune response of the body
    • Stimulate the production of immunoglobulins
    • Increase the production of white blood cells and prevent the decrease of wbc.
    • Increase the production of lymphocytes and promote the transformation of lymphoblast
  7. Anti-anaphylaxis:
    • Prevent anaphylactic shock caused by horse serum
    • Significant inhibition on allergic edema

(reference : The handbook of Chinese Herbs)

Ginseng Actions & indication

Invigorating primordial qi, tranquilizing the mind, improving wisdom, promoting the production of body fluid to quench thirst, tonifying the spleen and lung and delaying senility. It is used for : (1) Debility due to severe and long-standing diseases; (2) Magersucht, poor appetite and loose stool; (3) Insomnia, amnesia, palpitation and severe palpitation, etc.

Direction and Dosage 

Take 3 grams of ginseng slice orally, once a day, Or, take 5-10 grams for decoction, which is to be taken in several doses.


It is contraindicated for those with excess syndromes, heat syndromes and sufficient vital-qi, black false hellebore, faeces trogopterorum or Chinese honey locust should be avoided to be used together with ginseng. Ginseng efficacy may be reduced if one drinks tea or has radish during administration period.

Contemporary Study Summary

1. Chemical Compositions

Ginseng contains panaxosides, panacene, panaxynol, Panax acid, prositisol, choline, amino acid, peptide, panose A,B,C glucose, fructose, maltose, vitamins B1, B2, nicotinic acid, pantothenic acid and trace elements as Ge, Sr and Rb, etc

2. Main Pharmacological Actions

(1) Anti-senility and prolong life, (2) Anti-fatigue; (3) Strengthen the heart; (4) Improve immune
function; (5) Stimulate marrow hemopoiesis and liver detoxification; (6) Improve adaptability.

Toxicological Study

“Ginseng abuse syndrome” may be induced if one had a long period of continuing consumption of big dosage. One consumption of extremely big dosage may lead to death.

(reference : The Collection of Ageing Delaying Traditional Chinese Medicines With Color Illustration)

Other Indications:

Taxation damage with low food intake and lassitude; stomach reflux; efflux diarrhea; vacuity cough with rapid, distressed, dyspneic breathing; spontaneous sweating; fulminant desertion; fright palpitation; dizziness; impotence; frequent urination; uterine bleeding; chronic fright wind; enduring vacuity; insufficiency of qi, blood, and fluids.

(Source : The Illustrated Chinese Materia Medica, page 40)

Used for gastric carcinoma, lung cancer, carcinoma of esphagus, mammary cancer, tumor, carcinoma of uterus, malignant lymphoma.

(reference : Kang Ai Zhi Wu Yao Ji Qi Yang Fang, page 19.)

Also used for Hodgkin’s disease, chorionic epithelioma, acute lymphocytic leukemia, acute monocytic leukemia, lymphocarcinoma, reticulum cell sarcoma, hypertension and primary thrombocytopenic purpura. External application for burns.

(reference : Kang Ai Zhong Yao, Page 14.)

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