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ABCandBotanicalAdulterantsProgramPublishIn-DepthReviewofHistory,Nomenclature,andClassificationsofGinseng

CoverstoryofHerbalGramfeaturesrare,historicillustrationsofoneofworld’smosttradedandresearchedmedicinalplants

AUSTIN,Texas(September28,2016)Asitscoverstory,issue111oftheAmericanBotanicalCouncil’speer-reviewedjournalHerbalGramfeaturesacomprehensive,22-pagearticleaboutthehistory,nomenclature,taxonomy,andtradeofginseng(Panaxspp.)root.Thearticle,writtenbynotedauthorandphotographerStevenFoster,isoneofthemostextensivearticleseverpublishedinHerbalGramandincludeshistoricalartworkofginseng,someofwhichwasinitiallypublishedinthe17thand18thcenturiesandhasnotbeenseeninprintforoveracentury.Thearticleisrepletewithnineginsengillustrations,twotables,and112references.ThisarticleispartofthegrowingeducationalcoverageofherbadulterationbytheABC-AHP-NCNPRBotanicalAdulterantsProgram(BAP).Tounderstandmodernadulterationofginsengroot,itisnecessarytofirstunderstandthecomplexhistoryandnomenclatureofvariousplantspeciesthathavebeenbothappropriatelyanderroneouslycalled“ginseng”atonetimeoranother.Foster’sarticlethoroughlycoversthisinformation.

HighlyprizedbytheChineseforatleast2,200years,Asianginseng(P.ginseng)roothas,historically,beensubjecttoadulterationforeconomicincentiveandbecauseofwidespreadconfusionbetweenitandotherplantspeciesbothinsideandoutsidetheAraliaceaefamily.The“discovery”ofAmericanginseng(P.quinquefolius)in1700inCanadafurtheraddedtothecomplexity.Fosterhasspentagoodportionofthepastseveralyearsresearchingthissubjectandcollectinginformationabouttheuseandmisuseofthecommonname“ginseng”intradeandinscientificresearch—nomenclaturalnuancesthathaveaddedsignificantconfusionandmisinformationintheglobalherbtrade.

PubMedsearchesfortradenamessuchas“Siberianginseng”(Eleutherococcussenticosus,knownnowintheUnitedStatesbyitspreferredcommonname“eleuthero”),so-called“Indianginseng”(ashwagandha;Withaniasomnifera),andso-called“Brazilianginseng”(Pfaffiapaniculata)resultinnumerouscitations.Althoughtheterm“Siberianginseng”hasbeenacceptedbytheherbtradeinmanycountriesforoverthreedecades,thesemisusesofthename“ginseng”onlymuddleissues,anddonotfurtherscientificaccuracy.

Thecaseofginsengexemplifieshowhistoricalhighdemand,coupledwithconfusionanddisagreementabouthowtoappropriatelyclassifyandidentifyspecies,cannecessitaterobustqualitycontrolmeasurestoday. “GinsenghasalonghistoryofuseinAsia,whereitisahighlyprizedmedicinalplant,”saidMarkBlumenthal,founderandexecutivedirectorofABCandeditor-in-chiefofHerbalGram.“Overthecenturies,duetoitstraditionallyhighprice,ithasbeenadulteratedwithlower-costplantmaterials,andothernon-ginsengplantshavebeensoldas'ginseng'totheprobabledisadvantageoftheconsumer.Thisin-deptharticleisanecessaryfirststepinourattemptstohelpeducatestakeholdersaboutwaysginsengisstillbeingadulteratedandhowthispracticecanbestopped.”Thecoverimageisahand-coloredplateof“Panaxschinseng”fromTheodorF.L.NeesvonEsenbeck’sraresupplementvolumeofPlantaeofficinalesoderSammlungofficinellerPflanzen,whichwaspublishedin1833.AlsoaccompanyingthearticleisacolorplateshowingdifferentrootproductsfromvariousPanaxspecies,whichwasadaptedfromCarlAntonvonMeyer’s1842paperthatfirstestablishedthescientificnamePanaxginseng.Previously,inHerbalGramissue92,Foster,amemberofABC’sBoardofTrustees,coveredthehistoryofadulterationofherbs,spices,andbotanicaldrugsinthepasttwomillennia.Hehasalsowrittenarticlesabouttheadulterationofskullcap(Scutellarialateriflora)herbinissue93;bilberry(Vacciniummyrtillus)fruitextractinissue96;andblackcohosh(Actaearacemosa)rootandrhizome,whichwasthecoverstoryofissue98.TheginsengarticleispartofthegrowingeducationalcoverageoftheBAPintendedtoinformmembersoftheherbandnaturalproductsindustry,andrelatedstakeholders,abouttheproblemsassociatedwithaccidentalandintentionaladulterationofbotanicalrawmaterialsandextracts.Anotherextensivearticleonginsengadulterationdealingwithactualexamplesofadulterationofginsengandanalyticalmethodsthathavebeendevelopedtodetectthisadulterationisplannedforpublicationin2017.

AbouttheABC-AHP-NCNPRBotanicalAdulterantsProgramTheAmericanBotanicalCouncil(ABC)-AmericanHerbalPharmacopoeia(AHP)-NationalCenterforNaturalProductsResearch(NCNPR)BotanicalAdulterantsProgramisaninternationalconsortiumofnonprofitprofessionalorganizations,analyticallaboratories,universityresearchcenters,industrytradeassociations,industrymembers,andotherparties.TheProgramadvisesindustry,researchers,healthprofessionals,governmentagencies,themedia,andthepublicaboutthevariouschallengesrelatedtoadulteratedbotanicalingredientssoldincommerce.Todate,morethan175USandinternationalpartieshavefinanciallysupportedorotherwiseendorsedtheProgram.Todate,theBotanicalAdulterantsProgramhasissued24peer-reviewedpublicationsonthesubjectofbotanicaladulteration.Theseincludesixextensivelypeer-reviewedarticlesonthehistoryofadulteration,theadulterationoftheherbsblackcohoshandskullcap,adulterationofbilberryfruitextract,thenewreportonginseng,andthesaleofsyntheticantimicrobialcompoundslabeledtocontainso-called“grapefruitseedextract.”Inaddition,theProgramhasissuedsixBotanicalAdulterantsBulletinscoveringarnicaflower,bilberryfruitextract,blackcohoshrootandrhizome,goldensealrootandrhizome,grapeseedextract,andskullcapherb,andhasalsopublishedthreeLaboratoryGuidanceDocumentsreviewingandevaluatinganalyticalmethodstoauthenticateanddetectadulterationofbilberryextract,blackcohosh,andskullcap.TheProgramalsopublishesaquarterlye-newsletter,theBotanicalAdulterantsMonitor, thathighlightsnewscientificpublicationsrelatedtobotanicalauthenticityandanalysistodetectpossibleadulteration,recentregulatoryactions,andProgramnews.AlloftheProgram’spublicationsarefreelyavailableontheProgram’swebsite.