Home > Herbal Glossary > Chinese Herb List > Radix Panacis Quinquefolii
>>Where Does It Grow?
>>Nature and Flavor
>>Identified Active Components / Major Chemical
>>Drug actions in TCM
>>Traditional Uses in TCM
>>Pharmacological Actions
>>Administration and Dosage
>>Adverse Effects, Side Effects and Cautions
Xi Yang Shen
Latin Name: Radix Panacis Quinquefolii
Common Name: American ginseng / North American ginseng
Scientific Name: Panax quinquefolius L.
Chinese Name: 西洋參 / 花旗參
Pinyin Name: xi yang shen
The dried root of Panax quinquefolium L.; family Araliaceae.[1]
Where Does It Grow?
Wild American ginseng grows in United States and Canada. Nowadays, the herb is mainly cultivated and produced in United States, China, Canada and France.[1]
Nature and Flavor
American ginseng is sweat and slightly bitter in flavors, cool in nature, and mainly manifests its therapeutic actions in the heart, lung and kidney meridians.[2]
Identified Active Components/ Major Chemical Constituents 
Major chemical constituents in American ginseng are ginsenosides such as pseudoginsenoside F11, ginsenosides Rb1-Rb3, Rc-Rf, Rg1-Rg3, Rg8, Rh1, RA0, R0, F1-F4, quinquenosides I-V. It also contains organic acids, polysaccharides, amino acids, volatile compounds and trace elements. The variety and contents of ginsenosides in American ginseng are lower than Asian ginseng.[1][2][3]
Drug actions in TCM
American ginseng replenishes qi (vital energy), nourishes yin, clears heat and promotes the production of body fluids.[2]
Traditional Uses in TCM

American ginseng is used for yin or qi deficiency that presents with fever, breathing difficulties, fatigue, mouth dryness and throat soreness.[2][13]

For chronic conditions accompanied with low fever, mouth dryness, irritability and fatigue, American ginseng can be used with rehmannia root and dendrobium.
For breathing difficulties due to yin deficiency, the herb can be used with anemarrhena rhizome and unibract fritillary bulb.

Since the therapeutic actions of American ginseng are mild, it is often used as a nutritional supplement for enhancing overall bodily functioning or restoration. It can also be added in everyday cooking.
Pharmacological Actions

Effects on diabetes

In vitro studies
Study showed that American ginseng can increase insulin production and reduces the death of pancreatic beta cells.[4]

Another study suggest that effects of American ginseng in improving hyperglycemia may function by altering mitochondrial function and apoptosis cascades to ensure viability in pancreatic islet cells.[5]


Antioxidant effects

In vitro study
A principle ginsenosides for American ginseng was tested through three different antioxidant assays including: metal chelation, affinity to scavenge DPPH-stable free radical, and peroxyl (LOO*) and hydroxyl (*OH) free radicals for the purpose of characterizing mechanisms of antioxidant activity. The ability for North American Ginseng Extract (NAGE) to inhibit metal induced lipid peroxidation were in the order of Fe2+ > Cu2+ > Fe3+. NAGE also showed strong DPPH radical, site-specific and non site-specific *OH scavenging activity. In addition, NAGE effectively inhibited the non site-specific DNA strand breakage caused by Fenton agents. These results show that NAGE possesses antioxidant activity in both lipid and aqueous mediums by both chelation of metal ions and scavenging of free radicals.[6]


Cardio-protective effects

In vitro study
Study has demonstrated that American ginseng restrains oxidative stress and oxidative stress-induced cell death in cardiomyocytes by activating the Nrf2 pathway, therefore providing protection against cardiac remodeling.[7]

Animal test
Study has been conducted on Panax quinquefolium 20s-protopanaxdiolsaponins (PQDS), compounds extracted from leaves of American ginseng, in dogs with acute myocardial infarction. The results showed that PQDS has protective effect on myocardial ischemia by modifying metabolic dysfunction of FFA, preventing peroxidation of membrane lipids by free radical, uplifting endogenous antioxidase activity and enriching myocardial blood supply.[8]


Immunomodulatory Activities

Animal study
Coarse Polysaccharide from Panax quinquefolium (CPPQ) can inhibit the decrease in leukocytes number and size of lymphoid organs caused by Cyclophosphamide. It also strongly activates the phagocytosis of the reticuloendothelial system in normal and immuno-deficient mice, and enhances the differentiation of lymphocytes in spleen of the immnuo-deficient mice. These results indicate that CPPQ can strengthen both the non-specific and cell-mediated immunity in organisms.[9]


Effects on Colds

Clinical study
Ingestion of a poly-furanosyl-pyranosyl-saccharide-rich extract of the roots of North American ginseng over 4 months reduced the mean number of colds per person, the severity and the number of days which cold symptoms were reported.[10]


Anti-tumor effects

In vitro study
Researches had been done to determine if the gene expression of p21 protein, a cell cycle inhibitor, can be induced by American ginseng in hormone sensitive (MCF-7) and insensitive (MDA-MB-231) breast cancer cell lines. Northern blot was performed using human cDNA probes and cell cycle analyse was also performed. Results showed that American ginseng can induce p21 mRNA expression in both cell lines and the percentage of cells in proliferative phase (S-phase) was significantly decreased by American ginseng. Thus, American ginseng may possess the ability to inhibit breast cancer cell growth by activating the transcription of p21 gene.[11]

There was no toxic symptom or decrease in hepatic and renal functions in rats administered heat-processed American ginseng.[12]
Administration and Dosage
3∼6g each time for decoction or powder.[2]
Adverse Effects, Side Effects and Cautions
Individuals with high fever or loose bowels are not indicated.[2]

1. 趙中振,蕭培根主編《當代藥用植物典》香港賽馬會中藥研究院有限公司, 2007年5月.
2. 沈丕安編著《補益中藥的臨床運用》第二軍醫大學出版社,2008年8月.
3. Joe Hing Kwok Chu. Complementary and Alternative Healing University: American Ginseng. Retrieved from the World Wide Web: http://thedao.com/xi_yang_shen.htm
4. Wu Z, et al. American ginseng modulates pancreatic beta cell activities. Chin Med; 2: 11.
5. Luo JZ, et al. Ginseng on hyperglycemia: effects and mechanisms. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med.
6. Kitts DD, et al. Antioxidant properties of a North American ginseng extract. Mol Cell Biochem; 203(1-2): 1-10.
7. Li J, et al. An essential role of Nrf2 in American ginseng-mediated anti-oxidative actions in cardiomyocytes. J Ethnopharmacol.
8. Sui DY, et al. Protective effect of Panax quinquefolium 20s-proto-panaxdiolsaponins on acute myocardial infarction in dogs. Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi. 2001; 26(6): 416-9.
9. 李岩, 等. 西洋參根粗多糖對免疫功能低下小鼠免疫功能的影響. 白求恩醫科大學學報, 1996; 22(2): 173.
10. Predy GN, et al. Efficacy of an extract of North American ginseng containing poly-furanosyl-pyranosyl-saccharides for preventing upper respiratory tract infections: a randomized controlled trial. CMAJ.173.9 (2005): 1043-1048.
11. Duda RB, et al. American ginseng transcriptionally activates p21 mRNA in breast cancer cell lines. J Korean Med Sci 2001; 16(suppl): S54–S60.
12. Kang KS, et al. Increase in the free radical scavenging activities of American ginseng by heat processing and its safety evaluation. J Ethnopharmacol; 113(2): 225-232.
13. 雷載權主編《中藥學》上海科學技術出版社,2000年6月.