Medical application of Panax ginseng was first found in “Shen-Nong Herbal Classic” around 200 AD Panax quinquefolium was first introduced in “Essential of Materia Medica” in 1694 in China. The most important bioactive components contained in P ginseng and P quinquefolium are ginseng saponins (GS). The contents of ginsenoside Rb1, Re, and Rd in P quinquefolium are higher than they are in P ginseng. In P ginseng, the contents of Rg1,Rb2, and Rc are higher than they are in P quinquefolium. P ginseng had a higher ratio of Rg1: Rb1, and which was lower in P quinquefolium. After steaming for several hours, the total GS will decrease. However, some ginsenosides (Rg2, 20R-Rg2, Rg3, Rh1 and Rh2) increase, while others (Rb1, Rb2, Rb3, Rc, Rd, Re, and Rg1) decrease. However, variation, especially in P quinquefolium, is high. P ginseng and P quinquefolium are general tonics and adaptogens. Rg1 and Rb1 enhance central nervous system (CNS) activities, but the effect of the latter is weaker. Thus, for the higher contents of Rg1, P ginseng is a stimulant, whereas the Rb1 contents of P quinquefolium are mainly calming to the CNS. Re, Rg1, panaxan A and B from P ginseng are good for diabetes. Re and Rg1 enhance angiogenesis, whereas Rb1, Rg3 and Rh2 inhibit it. Rh2, an antitumor agent, can be obtained from Rb1 by steaming. The content of Re in P quinquefolium are higher than in P ginseng by 3-4 times. The vasorelax, antioxidant, antihyperlipidemic, and angiogenic effects of Re are reported. Thus, for the CNS “hot,” wound healing and hypoglycemic effects, P ginseng is better than P quinquefolium. For anticancer effects, P quinquefolium is better.
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Chen, Cf., Chiou, Wf. & Zhang, Jt. Comparison of the pharmacological effects of Panax ginseng and Panax quinquefolium. Acta Pharmacol Sin 29, 1103–1108 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1745-7254.2008.00868.x
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