01. Korean Ginseng as a medicinal herb
Korean Ginseng as a medicinal herb
Ginseng , a medicinal herb, has long been used in maintaining physical vitality throughout the far-eastern countries in Korea and China. Carl Anton Meyer, Russian botanist, named it Panax ginseng in 1843. The genus name Panax means ‘cure all’ in Greek. Ginseng root produced in Korea has been most highly prized so as to gain the popular name, Korean ginseng. Its siblings are found in North America, Japan, China, and Russia, but they are different from Korean ginseng in morphology and composition. Korean ginseng, Panax Ginseng C. A. Meyer, belongs to the family Araliaceae and genus Panax to which six species belong.
Table 1. Characteristics of 6 Panax species
Common name (Scientific name) No. of
Root appreances Origin
Korean ginseng (P. ginseng) 5 human body Korea, Manchuria
American ginseng (P. quinquefolium) 5 spindle-shaped N. America
Sanchi (P. notoginseng) 7 small carrot Yunan (China)
Bamboo ginseng (P. japonicum) 5 bamboo Japan, Yunan
Dwart ginseng (P. trifolium) 3 spherical Northeastern America
Himalayan ginseng (P. pseudoginseng) 5 bulbous Nepal
The word “ginsenoside”, especially, refers to the saponins contained in ginseng, a kind of Glycoside chemically. It is generally comprised in plant root, leaves, stem, and seed. At an old time, it was known as to anti-nutrition material, but some spotlight has been begun as Physiological active materials with their efficacy of anti-cancer, anti-oxidation, and low cholesterol. Of many effective components in ginseng, saponin plays main medical role.

Other varieties of ginseng currently available in global marketplace, along with Korean ginseng, are American ginseng (Hwagisam), and Chinese ginseng (Sanchi-sam). It has, however, determined thatKorean ginseng has more kinds of ginsenosides than American ginseng or Chinese ginseng
Table 2 : Comparison of kinds of ginsenosides of Korean ginseng and other ginsengs
Type Korean Ginseng
(Panax ginseng)
American ginseng
(Panax uinquefolium)
Chinese ginseng
(Panax notoginseng)
PPD-type 22 13 14
PPT-type 14 5 15
acid type
2 1 -
Total 38 19 29
Table 3. Type of ginsenosides in Korean ginseng
Type Ginsenosides Total
PPD-type Ginsenosides Ra1, Ra2, Ra3, Rb1, Rb2, Rb3, Rc, Rd, Rg3 ;
Quinquenoside R1 ; malonyl ginsenosides ** Rb1, Rb2, Rc,
Rd; koryoginsenoside **R1, R2 ; ginsenosides Rh2*, Rs1*,
Rs2*”, Rs3* ; 20S ginsenoside Rg3* ; notoginsenoside R4*;
Ginsenoside Rg5*
22 types
PPT-type Ginsenosides Re, Rf, Rg1, Rg2, RG6* Rh1 ; notoginsenoside
R1 ; 20gluco ginsenoside Rf ; koryoginsenosde R1 ;
Ginsenoside Rf2* ; 20R ginsenoside Rg2*, Rh1* ; ginsenoside
Rh4* ; 20E ginsenoside F4*
14 types
Ginsenoside Ro, polyactyleneginsenoside Ro** 2kinds
Ginseng saponins (ginsenosides) isolated from Korean ginseng have many medical actions
Ro Anti-inflammation action, Thrombolysis, Anti-hepatitis action
Rb1 CNS (central nerve system) – depressant action and tranquilizing action Suppressing feeding center-induced eating Promotion of neurotransmitter release, Acceleration of cholesterol metabolism, Acceleration of biosynthesis of nucleic acid, protein, and lipid, Improvement of brain function Inhibitory action on aggressive behaviors, Protection against liver disorders Acceleration of anti-oxidant activity
Rb2 CNS-depressant action, Acceleration of biosynthesis of DNA, RNA, protein, and lipid, Anti-diabetic action, Acceleration of sugar and lipid metabolism, Lowering of high cholesterol levels and anti-atherosclerotic effect, Inhibitory action of tumor angiogenesis, Maintenance of nitrogen metabolism equilibrium
Rc CNS-depressant action, Acceleration of biosythesis of DNA, RNA, and protein Promotion of sperm motility
Rd Resistance against radioactivity,
Protection of nerve cells,
Immunomodulation, Anti-oxidant action
Re Anti-diabetic action,
Reduction of Insulin resistance,
Protection of nerve cells, Improvement of sperm capacitation, Anti-oxidant action
Rf Soothing of pain
Rg1 Stimulative action on CNS,
Improvement of memory and learning function,
Protection of brain cells,
Acceleration of nerve cell proliferation,
Anti-stress action,
Inhibitory action on stress-induced eating disorders,
Immunomodulation, Anti-fatigue action,
Inhibitory action on platelet aggregation,
Vasodilatation action
Rg2 Improvement of memory decline caused by vascular brain damage Improvement of memory learning,
Protection of nerve cells,
Acceleration of proliferation of vascular endothelial cells
unique to
Rh2 Inhibitory action on cancer cell proliferation,
Inhibitory action on cancer growth
Rh3 Inhibitory action on cancer cell metastasis,
Vascular relaxation action,
Protection against brain cell damage,
Inhibitory action on tolerance to anticancer drugs
Inhibitory action on platelet aggregation
Rh1 Acceleration of cancer cell differentiation
Rh4 Inhibitory action on cancer cell proliferation