Panax notoginseng

Panax notoginseng

Chinese ginseng or notoginseng (Panax notoginseng (Burkill) F.H.Chen) is a herbaceous species belonging to the Araliaceae family.

Systematics –
From a systematic point of view it belongs to:
Eukaryota Domain,
Kingdom Plantae,
Magnoliophyta Division,
Magnoliopsida class,
Subclass Asteridae,
Order Apiales,
Araliaceae family,
Subfamily Aralioidae,
Genus Panax,
P. notoginseng species.

Etymology –
The term Panax comes from the Greek πάναξ panax panacea (from πᾶς, πᾶσα, πᾶν pas, pása, pan tutto and from ἀκέια acèia cura, remedy): a remedy for all ills.
The specific epithet notoginseng is the union of the terms known, that a word coming from the Greek νότος nόtos Noto, ancient name of the Austro, wind that blows from the south, and from βάσις básis base or stem of the plant: southern plant, southern and from the term ginseng which comes from the Chinese rénshēn, from rén ‘man’ + shēn, a kind of herb (due to the presumed similarity of the forked root with a person).

Geographic Distribution and Habitat –
Panax notoginseng is a plant native to East Asia where it grows naturally in China and is present in Jiangxi, Hubei, Guangdong, Guangxi, Sichuan, Yunnan and other places.
Its natural habitat is however rarer and corresponds to the hilly areas in the jungle undergrowth.

Description –
Panax notoginseng is a perennial herb.
It has a robust, fleshy, fusiform and inverted conical tap root.
The leaves are compound and palmate.
The flowers are small and yellow-green, collected in an umbrella with a single terminal. The flowering period is from June to August.
The fruits are berry-shaped drupes, bright red when ripe.
The fruiting period is from August to October.
The seeds are oblate and white.

Cultivation –
Chinese Ginseng is a cultivated plant that was once harvested mainly in the wild; today plants in the wild are rarer but are considered the most precious.
Today this plant is grown mostly on the slopes of the foothills, gentle slopes or under artificial shade at an altitude of 800-1000 m.
This plant grows well in warm winter climates and a cool summer environment. It fears intense cold, as well as intense heat, such as humidity and suffers in soils with water stagnation.
It is advisable that the planting soil is loose and with good drainage. Low soils with poor drainage are not suitable for planting.
Furthermore, areas with direct light must be avoided.
The Chinese call it three-seven root because the plant has three petioles with seven leaflets each. It is also said that the root should be harvested between three and seven years after planting.
The largest crops are mainly in Yunnan Wenshan, Guangxi, Tibet and other places in East Asia.

Customs and Traditions –
Panax notoginseng is called in Chinese: tiánqī (田七), tienchi ginseng, sānqī (三七) or sanchi, three-seven root and mountain plant.
In traditional Chinese medicine, P. notoginseng is classified as hot in nature. The taste is sweet and slightly bitter.
The leaves, fruits and flowers of this plant are used to make medicines. However, the root is the most commonly used.
Panax notoginseng is used to stop or slow bleeding. It is sometimes taken by people who have nosebleeds, vomit or cough blood, or find blood in their urine or stool.
Panax notoginseng is also used for pain relief; and to reduce swelling and blood pressure. It is also used for chest pain (angina), stroke and bleeding in the brain, accumulation of fat in blood vessels, heart attacks and some types of liver disease. It is also used to improve energy and exercise capacity, to reduce muscle soreness after exercise, and for osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Some people apply Panax notoginseng directly to the skin to stop bleeding, help with bruising or swelling, and to improve blood circulation in the muscles.
Products based on this plant would improve blood flow and reduce blood pressure. Some of the chemicals in Panax notoginseng could reduce swelling and protect the heart. However, there are not enough scientific studies and information to know how Panax notoginseng might work for other applications.
P. notoginseng contains dammaran-type ginsenosides as the main constituents. Dammaran-type ginsenosides include 2 classifications: 20 (S) -protopanaxadiol (ppd) and 20 (S) -protopanaxatriol (ppt) classifications. P. notoginseng contains high levels of ginsenosides Rb1, Rd (ppd classification) and Rg1 (ppt classification). In one study, the Rb1, Rd and Rg1 content of P. notoginseng was found to be higher than that of P. ginseng and P. quinquefolius.

Preparation Method –
Panax notoginseng, as mentioned, is often used in traditional Chinese medicine to be transformed into medicines and has been used locally as tea and food.
In order to make the best use of it, attention must be paid to the harvesting and processing phase.
The inflorescences are collected when they bloom (from June to August), and dried by fumigation. Harvesting must be done in the summer of the third year after sowing (June, July and August of each year). Harvesting should be avoided immediately after the use of pesticides. It is best to have an interval of more than 1 week (but this depends on the type of pesticide). After washing, immerse in clean water for 5-10 minutes, rinse and set aside, wait until the water in the pot boils and the steamer vents; at this point put the Panax notoginseng.
It can be cooked in the steamer for about 10 minutes, and extracted, commonly known as “Finito”. Steamed Panax notoginseng is exposed to the sun for 1-2 days to evaporate most of the water to the point that it does not mold when stored in a cool place and then placed in a ventilated place to dry, and then sealed in bags for food, which can be used throughout the year.
From this plant a decoction of 5-10 g can be prepared which is a typical dose. It can also be ground into a powder to be ingested directly or taken mixed with water. The dose in this case is usually 1-3 g.

Guido Bissanti

Sources
– Acta Plantarum – Flora of the Italian Regions.
– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
– Useful Tropical Plants Database.
– Conti F., Abbate G., Alessandrini A., Blasi C. (ed.), 2005. An annotated checklist of the Italian vascular flora, Palombi Editore.
– Pignatti S., 1982. Flora of Italy, Edagricole, Bologna.
– Treben M., 2000. Health from the Lord’s Pharmacy, Advice and experiences with medicinal herbs, Ennsthaler Editore.

Warning: Pharmaceutical applications and alimurgical uses are indicated for informational purposes only, they do not represent in any way a medical prescription; therefore no responsibility is taken for their use for curative, aesthetic or food purposes.




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