What is Panax Ginseng Root?


Panax ginseng root comes from the panax ginseng plant. The root is a light tan color. Its gnarled appearance often bears the likeness of the human body–the tuberous part of the root resembles a torso, while stringy shoots of panax ginseng root look like arms and legs.

Traditional Medicine

Panax ginseng root is used in traditional Chinese medicinal practices. Information gathered by the University of Maryland Medical Center points out that panax ginseng root, commonly taken in combination with other herbs, is used as a tonic rather than a curative. Individuals taking the root often hope to have a longer life, improve bodily strength and achieve greater wisdom.

According to the Mayo Clinic, many different doses of Panax ginseng root are used traditionally. Practitioners sometimes recommend using ginseng for 2 to 3 weeks at a time, and then taking a break for 1 to 2 weeks. Long-term dosing should not exceed 1 gram of dry root daily.


According to a double-blind randomized study conducted by the School of Pharmacy at the University of Connecticut, panax ginseng is an herbal supplement that can positively affect your quality of life. The results, published in “The Annals of Pharmacotherapy,” reveal that subjects reported higher scores in social functioning and mental health after completing four weeks of therapy. However, these positive results are shown to be temporary and did not persist after eight weeks.


Panax ginseng is only one of several ginseng species. It is the scientific name for what is commonly known as Asian ginseng or Korean ginseng. American ginseng, Panax quinquefolius, and Japanese ginseng, Panax quinquefoius, represent other species of the genus Panax.

Some plants are given the name ginseng, but they are not the same genus. These other plants include Siberian ginseng, Brazilian ginseng, Indian ginseng, women’s ginseng and prince ginseng. According to the Tang Center for Herbal Medicinal Research, these other plant varieties have different pharmacological effects that may nevertheless be included in commercially available ginseng preparations. Products with formulations that contain ginsengs, but have a different scientific name should be avoided. Healing properties are believed to be specific to Panax ginseng.


Panax ginseng is not recommended to take while pregnant. A systematic literature review conducted by the Department of Research and Clinical Epidemiology at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine concluded that Panax ginseng should be consumed with caution during pregnancy, especially during the first trimester, and during lactation. This conclusion was based on the lack of human studies, not adverse reactions.

Drug Interactions

Panax ginseng root is an herbal supplement that reacts adversely with some medications. The National Institute of Health (NIH) cautions against ingesting ginseng if you take medications that influence your blood pressure, affect blood sugar levels, increase or decrease the risk of bleeding, antidepressants, calcium channel blockers, analgesics, liver medication and sedatives.

About this Author

Victoria Weinblatt graduated from Michigan State University with a B.S. in environmental and natural resource policy and is completing her master’s in TESOL at Shenandoah University. Weinblatt worked for five years as a nationally certified massage therapist in Seattle and Philadelphia. She earned her hatha yoga teacher certification from the Vijnana Kala Vedi Cultural Centre.