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Ginseng Glossary

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Here is a glossary of terms that may help you understand how ginseng produces its unique effects on the body. You may find the following alphabetical links useful:

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chemical produced around the nerve endings of the neuromuscular system.
It is responsible for transmitting nerve impulses from a neurone to a muscle cell controlled by that nerve.

enzymes that speed up the transfer of acetyl groups.

a normaliser on the body. A substance that works towards bringing the body back to its normal state.

a hormone released by the adrenal grand in response to stress.

ADHD: - (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder)
a syndrome of disordered learning and disruptive behaviour that is not caused by any serious underlying physical or mental disorder.

requiring or using oxygen.

Alzheimer's disease:
a degenerative brain disease of unknown cause that is the most common form of dementia. It is marked by the degeneration of brain neurons (especially in the cerebral cortex) and the presence of neurofibrillary tangles and plaques containing beta-amyloid.

substance or chemical that prevents oxidation. Oxidation of some common substances creates cancer-causing substances.

programmed cell death; a genetically determined process of cell self-destruction that is marked by the fragmentation of nuclear DNA. It is a normal physiological process eliminating DNA-damaged or superfluous cells, and when halted (as by genetic mutation) may result in uncontrolled cell growth and tumour formation.

the extended part of a neurone that transmits impulses away from the neurone.

type of hardening of the arteries in which fats and other substances build up on the inside wall of blood vessels.


a type of protein that is the primary component of characteristic plaques found in the brain of people with Alzheimer's disease.


cAMP: - (cyclic-AMP)
an intracellular compound that mediates the hormonal effects of various cellular processes (such as cell proliferation, lipid metabolism, and membrane transport).

promoting the development of cancer.

substance that are produced by the adrenal gland in response to stress including adrenalin, noradrenalin and dopamine.

a positively charged particle.

having to do with acetylcholine.

Conner's Parent rating:
a measure of various patterns of inattentiveness, restlessness, impulsivity and hyperactivity as well as cognitive problems, perfectionism, social problems and other relevant dimensions of psychological functioning. Used in the assessment of ADHD.

corpus cavernosum:
column of erectile tissue found on either side of the penis.

glucocorticoid secreted by the zona fasciculata of the adrenal cortex (in response to stress).

substance secreted by the adrenal gland in response to stress.

hormone from the anterior lobe of the pituitary gland which controls the secretion of corticosteroids by the adrenal gland.

any of a class of immunoregulatory proteins (as interleukin, tumor necrosis factor, and interferon) that are mainly secreted by cells of the immune system.


branch-like extension of a neurone that receives nerve impulses from another neurone and pass them to the cell body (and often towards the axon).

stimulating the production of dopamine, a chemical neurotransmitter.


squamous epithelial cells that line the inner surface of the entire circulatory system and vessels of the lymphatic system.

exhibiting the effects of estrogen, a female sex hormone secreted by the ovary.


free fatty acid:
fatty acid combined with albumin to be transported by the blood to other cells.

free radical:
a charged atom or molecular fragment. Radicals seek to receive or release electrons in order to achieve a more stable configuration, a process that can damage the large molecules within cells.


saponin that is the main bioactive substance ginseng. There are many types (see PPD, PPT) with a wide variety of biological actions. They have a four-ring, steroid-like structure with sugars attached.

a polysaccharide that is the main carbohydrate stored in animal (including human) cells.


a curved elongated ridge that extends over the floor of each lateral ventricle of the brain. It is involved in forming, storing, and processing memory.

deficiency of oxygen in the blood.


compounds (eg IL-1, IL-2) produced by lymphocytes, macrophages, and monocytes. They help regulate the immune system, especially cell-mediated immunity.

reduce flow of blood to a tissue resulting in impairment of cell function and/or integrity.


Jadad scale:
Jadad's scale is widely used to assess the quality of clinical trials. It is a five questions scale composed of the following questions:
1) Is the study randomized?
2) Is the study double blinded?
3) Is there a description of withdrawals?
4) Is the randomization adequately described?
5) Is the blindness adequately described?

JNK signalling cascade:
intracellular signalling cascade involving a certain group of kinases. Some appear to play a part in regulation of apoptosis.


low density lipoprotein, a plasma protein composed of relatively more cholesterol than protein. Often called bad cholesterol because high levels contribute to artherosclerotic plaque formation and arterial wall damage.

enzyme that breaks down lipids (body fats and oils).


motor neurone disease:
a group of related diseases affecting the motor neurones in the brain and spinal cord. It is caused by degeneration of motor neurones (nerve cells along which the brain sends instructions) to the muscles, leading to weakness and wasting of muscles and eventually death.

mRNA: - messenger RNAa
duplicate copy of a gene sequence on the DNA that passes from the cell nucleus to the cytoplasm. It is used by ribosomes to create specific proteins.

muscle of the heart.


nerve cell, including its processes (axon and dendrite).

a poisonous protein complex that acts on the nervous system.

nicotinic receptor:
receptors of acetylcholine at nerve fibres, autonomic ganglia, and neuromuscular junctions of voluntary muscle.

nitric oxide:
is formed by the oxidation of arginine in the body where it acts as a mediator of intracellular and intercellular communication regulating numerous biological processes (as vasodilation and neurotransmission).


Odds Ratio:
the ratio of the probability of an event occurring to the probability of it not occurring.


statistic method of expressing the level of significance of a particular result. For example trials commonly accept significance at the 5% level (P < 0.05); If more caution is required a 1% level may be chosen (P < 0.01).

Parkinson's disease:
nervous disease characterised by abnormally low levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine in pars of the brain that control voluntary movement. Victims normally show involuntary trembling and rigidity.

any of various amides that are derived from two or more amino acids by combination of the amino group of one acid with the carboxyl group of another. They are usually obtained by partial hydrolysis of proteins.

relating to the space between the various organs in the abdomen.

a carbohydrate that can be decomposed by hydrolysis into two or more molecules of monosaccharides. Usually contains many monosaccharide units and marked by complexity (for example cellulose, starch, or glycogen).

PPD: - Protopanaxadiol
those ginsenosides with carbohydrate components at the carbon-3 position. PPD ginsenosides include Ra, Rb1, Rb2, Rb3, Rc and Rd. They are metabolised by intestinal microorganisms mainly to the metabolite M1.

PPT: - Protopanaxatriol
those ginsenosides with carbohydrate components at the carbon-6 position. PPT ginsenosides include Re, Rf, Rg1 and Rg2. They are metabolised by intestinal microorganisms mainly to the metabolite M4.


any of various glucosides that occur in plants.

substantia nigra:
part of the mid-brain that consists of clusters of cell bodies of neurones involved in muscular control.

membrane to membrane junction between one neurone and another (or effector or sensory cell). It propagates the electric nerve impulse.


male (masculinizing) hormone produced by the interstitial cells of the testes.

substance involved in the blood clotting mechanism - it converts fibrinogen to fibrin.

thromboembolism (thrombosis):
blocking of a blood vessel by a blood clot.

cells of the immune system that have undergone maturation in the thymus. They produce cell-mediated immunity.

tumour necrosis factor.

type-2 diabetes:
condition resulting when the pancreatic islets secrete too little insulin, resulting in increased levels of blood glucose. Also called diabetes mellitus.


relating to changes in the diameter of blood vessels.

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Please note:
Any scientific information has been assembled by Simply Ginseng from reputable peer-reviewed scientific journals. We have tried to ensure it is clear, balanced and without bias. This information should not be construed as claims for any of our products. Always consult your health care professional.Use only as directed. Always read the label.
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