Panax ginseng is a medicinal plant with a long history steeped in myth. The term “panax” itself is derived from a Greek word for “panacea” or “cure all”. As ginseng processing technology continues to develop, this famous traditional extract keeps finding new applications.
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Lower processing temperatures with ultrasound-assisted extraction
Ultrasound-assisted extraction (UAE) performs at a lower temperature than conventional ginseng processing technology. Besides increasing yield, lower operating heat protects thermally unstable ingredients in plant materials.
Another advantage of UAE is that it requires less solvent than most solvent extraction techniques. The technology applies acoustic cavitation to disrupt the cell walls and release the target compounds.
Applying ginseng processing technology to produce black extract
Ginseng extracts can be further processed into black ginseng. The type can be prepared from either the red or white variety by repeated steaming and drying. The process gelatinizes the ginseng, reducing moisture levels.
But the biochemical reactions also increase the concentration of benzopyrene, a carcinogen.
The drying phase has a more significant impact on the presence of benzopyrene than steaming. The optimum drying temperature is 100 °C for a period of 8 hours.
Novel ginseng extract finds new application in pharmacology
Ginsenosides are the primary bioactive compounds in ginseng extracts. But the plant contains several other bioactives such as ginsenosides, polyacetylenes, and acidic polysaccharides.
One of the novel compounds identified in ginseng, gintonin, promises a broad application as an active pharmaceutical ingredient. Gintonin binds with the proteins on cell surface membranes and transmits cellular information. The ingredient has the potential for the treatment of geriatric brain diseases.