Ginseng leaves

Chinese: 人参叶

Pinyin: Rén Shēn Yè

Parts used: Dried leaves

TCM category: Tonic herbs for Qi Deficiency

TCM nature: Cool

TCM taste(s): Sweet

Meridian affinity: StomachLung

Scientific name: Panax ginseng

Use of ginseng leaves (Rén Shēn Yè) in TCM

Please note that you should never self-prescribe TCM ingredients. A TCM ingredient is almost never eaten on its own but as part of a formula containing several ingredients that act together. Please consult a professional TCM practitionner, they will be best able to guide you.

Preparation: Collect the leaves in autumn and dry them.

Dosage: 3 - 9 grams

Main actions according to TCM*: Tonifies the Qi and Lungs. Dispels Summer-Heat and engenders body Fluids.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which ginseng leaves may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Coughing Dysphagia Summer Heat Excessive thirst Dizziness

Key TCM concepts behind ginseng leaves' properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), ginseng leaves are plants that belong to the 'Tonic herbs for Qi Deficiency' category. Tonic herbs are used for patterns of Deficiency, when one lacks one of the 'Four Treasures' (Qi, Blood, Yin and Yang). Qi tonics are typically sweet and they tend to enter the Spleen and Lungs because these organs are most involved with the production of Qi.

Furthermore ginseng leaves are plants that are Cool in nature. This means that ginseng leaves tend to help people who have too much "heat" in their body, although with less effect than a plant that would be Cold in nature. Balance between Yin and Yang is a key health concept in TCM. Those who have too much heat in their body are said to either have a Yang excess (because Yang is Hot in nature) or a Yin deficiency (Yin is Cold in Nature). Depending on your condition ginseng leaves can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Ginseng leaves also taste Sweet. The so-called "five elements" theory in Chinese Medicine states that the taste of TCM ingredients is a key determinant of their action in the body. Sweet ingredients like ginseng leaves tend to slow down acute reactions and detoxify the body. They also have a tonic effect because they replenish Qi and Blood.

The tastes of ingredients in TCM also determine what organs and meridians they target. As such ginseng leaves are thought to target the Stomach and the Lung. In TCM the Stomach is responsible for receiving and ripening ingested food and fluids. It is also tasked with descending the digested elements downwards to the Small Intestine. In addition to performing respiration, the Lungs are thought to be a key part of the production chain for Qi and the body fluids that nourish the body.

Research on ginseng leaves

Panax Ginseng leaves appear to have CNS-depressive, neuroleptic, analgesic, hypertensive, cholinergic, hypotensive, histamine-like, atropine-like and papaverine-like activities.1

Panax ginseng leaf extract supplementation is effective in detoxifying free radicals that are produced excessively in diabetic-induced complications.2

Sources:

1. Hiroshi SAITO, Mariko MORITA, Keijiro TAKAGI, PHARMACOLOGICAL STUDIES OF PANAX GINSENG LEAVES, The Japanese Journal of Pharmacology, 1973, 23 巻, 1 号, p. 43-56, 公開日 2011/03/23, Online ISSN 1347-3506, Print ISSN 0021-5198, https://doi.org/10.1254/jjp.23.43

2. Chang-Hwa Jung, Ho-Moon Seog, In-Wook Choi, Hee-Don Choi, Hong-Yon Cho (2005). Effects of wild ginseng (Panax ginseng C.A. Meyer) leaves on lipid peroxidation levels and antioxidant enzyme activities in streptozotocin diabetic rats. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Volume 98, Issue 3, Pages 245-250. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jep.2004.12.030.