Early Use As A General Tonic

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The earliest Chinese texts praised the virtues of ginseng stating that if it was taken constantly it was a tonic to the five viscera (liver, lungs, heart, spleen and kidneys), quieting the spirits, establishing the soul, allaying fear, expelling evil effluvia, opening up the heart and brightening the eyes, benefiting the understanding and invigorating the body and prolonging life (Hou, 1978).

Several more recent workers have shewn that ginseng extracts from stems or leaves given orally or intraperitoneally to young rodents produce body weight increase, increase in protein and ribonucleic acid (RNA) in muscle and liver cells, and no increase of weight in the prostate glands or seminal vesicles (Wang et al., 1982). Increased synthesis of protein, deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and RNA in the bone marrow and protein and RNA in the kidneys was also found and ginseng stem and leaf given orally accelerated the growth of young pigs. It was noted that the saponins of the aerial parts of P. ginseng were apparently greater stimulators of protein and nucleic acid synthesis than the root saponins (Wen et al., 1982). Such observations underline the importance of working with standardised preparations or pure compounds. It was concluded that the mechanism of growth promotion of ginseng stem and leaf saponins was different

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