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Aaron Sta Maria
Written by Aaron Sta Maria

Reviewed by Dr Jessica Gunawan

5 Facts About Panax Ginseng You Need to Know

There’s a difference between panax ginseng and panax notoginseng. The former protects against cancer and diabetes, while the latter helps prevent cerebrovascular disease.

Close-up of panax ginseng roots stacked on top of each other.

A protected plant in China and Russia, panax ginseng (ren shen, 人参) is native to the mountainous regions of both countries, and the Korean Peninsula. To meet market demand without depleting the natural resource, it’s cultivated in all three countries and some areas of Japan.

Ancient literature of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) states that panax ginseng tastes sweet and has a slightly warm temperature. It also reinforces yuan qi (innate vital force, 元气) and tonifies Zang organ qi, in the Heart, Spleen, and Lung systems. 

Learn why panax ginseng is highly prized by advocates of the system of medicine. 

Is Panax Ginseng Similar to Panax Notoginseng? 

Person holding a panax notoginseng root with their thumb and forefinger.
Panax notoginseng can protect against cerebrovascular disease.

Panax notoginseng (san qi, 三七), like panax ginseng, grows naturally in China. But that’s where the similarities end. The former has three leaf stalks with seven leaflets, while the latter has many leaves that grow in threes, and green or yellow-hued flowers in ball-shaped clusters.

Notoginseng also has more saponins, essential oils, and polyacetylenes, and protects against cerebrovascular disease. Cerebrovascular disease describes a group of conditions that affect blood vessels and impair blood flow in the brain.

On the contrary, panax ginseng has more polysaccharides and amino acids. It can also help prevent cancer, cardiovascular disease, erectile dysfunction, nerve disease, and diabetes mellitus.

American ginseng (xi yang shen, 西洋参), meanwhile, is found to have therapeutic potential against inflammatory diseases. It helps regulate blood sugar levels and prevent diabetes-related complications, inhibits tumour growth, and lowers the frequency of flu and colds.

Panax Ginseng Boosts Cognitive Function in People with Neurological Disorders

Elderly woman in a wheelchair and her caregiver smiling together as they work on a craft project together while sitting at a table.
Panax ginseng may help ameliorate cognitive disorder symptoms.

Cognitive impairment is especially common among people diagnosed with neurological disorders (such as Alzheimer’s disease). It can see them struggling to remember, make decisions, concentrate, or learn new things. 

Pre-clinical studies show that the active components of ginseng – ginsenosides, gintonin, and compound K – may help address cognitive disorders. For example, these components demonstrate anti-neuroinflammatory properties, and fight oxidative stress. It also modulates cholinergic signalling, which is important for essential cognitive functions.

Panax Ginseng Promotes Proper Digestion 

The Spleen plays a central role in ensuring proper blood and qi circulation throughout the body. Ginseng can be used to treat digestive disorders, thus, helping to nourish the organ system and invigorate the body.

One of the most notable tonics for the Spleen is Si Jun Zi Tang (四君子汤). It comprises four main ingredients, such as ginseng, Largehead Atractylodes Rhizome (bai zhu, 白术), poria (fu ling, 茯苓), and Chinese liquorice root (gan cao, 甘草). 

Panax Ginseng May Help Prevent Cancer

Different studies have found that ginseng use was associated with a lower incidence of cancer, especially among men. In addition, the ingredient was found to decrease the risk of breast-cancer specific mortality in women, and all-cause mortality in men.

People who took ginseng while undergoing treatment also coped better with fatigue after a four or eight-week juncture than those who completed treatment. 

Panax Ginseng May Contribute to Increased Productivity

Woman smiling as she plucks a guitar string while sitting on a blue sofa and looking at a laptop screen. 
Ginseng formulas can help keep a person focused and encourage the development of new ideas.

Gui Pi Tang (归脾汤) and Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan (天王補心丹) are popular formulas for boosting vitality, increasing concentration, and calming the mind. 

Yi (意) is the mental faculty of the organ system, and influences a person’s ability to maintain focus, think, and develop ideas. A depletion of Spleen qi can result in forgetfulness and an inability to concentrate. To correct this imbalance, a person may use Gui Pi Tang, which contains ginseng and Astragalus root (huang qi, 黄芪), and can help replenish Spleen qi

Similarly, Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan combines ginseng and Rehmannia root (shu di huang, 熟地黄) to calm the Spirit (shen), nourish fluids, tonify the Heart, and rejuvenate the mind. It’s particularly beneficial for alleviating the following: 

  • Fatigue 
  • Irritability 
  • Short-term loss of concentration 
  • Palpitations coupled with a restless mind 

A herbal soup mix that contains ginseng and various other ingredients may help nourish your blood and is useful for shortness of breath and preventing a cold.

It comes as no surprise that panax ginseng is one of the most valuable medicinal plants and is known as “The King of Herbs”. While it may support your well-being, you should seek consultation from a TCM physician to determine if the herb is compatible with your body constitution

Share this article if you think this information is beneficial for your friends and family.

This is an adaptation of an article, “7 Things You Should Know About Notoginseng”, which first appeared on Eu Yan Sang’s website.


  1. Wikipedia. Panax ginseng. [online] [Accessed 3 January 2023] 
  2. Five Flavors Herbs. 2020. Panax Ginseng for Balance, Vitality & Focus. [online] [Accessed 3 January 2023] 
  3. Wikipedia. Panax notoginseng. [online] [Accessed 3 January 2023] 
  4. National Library of Medicine. 2020. Chemical constituents of Panax ginseng and Panax notoginseng explain why they differ in therapeutic efficacy. [online] [Accessed 3 January 2023] 
  5. Mount Sinai. American ginseng [online] [Accessed 3 January 2023]
  6. Cancer Therapy Advisor. 2017. Ginseng and Cancer. [online] [Accessed 3 January 2023]
  7. National Library of Medicine. 2014. PURLs: Finally, a way to relieve cancer-related fatigue. [online] [Accessed 3 January 2023] 
  8. National Library of Medicine. 2018. Active ginseng components in cognitive impairment: Therapeutic potential and prospects for delivery and clinical study. [online] [Accessed 3 January 2023] 
  9. Smithsonian Institution. 2020. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, Ginseng Is King of Tonic Herbs. [online] [Accessed 3 January 2023] 

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