New Law Limits Use of Term "Ginseng"
CT, 13 August 2002
new federal law stipulates that labeling cannot identify a product
as ginseng "unless it is an herb or herbal ingredient derived from
a plant classified within the genus Panax."
ginseng is scientifically proven to safely and naturally enhance
energy and promote overall well-being. But prior to the new law,
consumers seeking the benefits of true ginseng had to sift through
a variety of products, including those marketed as Siberian "ginseng."
The Siberian plant contains none of the beneficial compounds --
known as ginsenosides -- that are found in Panax and that
have been extensively tested.
a result of the new law, any product that claims to be ginseng --
but is not derived from the genus Panax -- must be taken
off store shelves.
magnitude of this new law is quite significant for consumers," said
Barbara Levine, RD, PhD, Director of the Nutrition Information Center,
Weill Medical College of Cornell University.
the overwhelming array of ginseng supplements on the market, this
legislation will decrease confusion, allowing consumers to make
more informed decisions regarding the types of products they purchase,"
Levine said. "This is just one example of how the government is
taking a stronger stand in regulating supplements, which should
direction the legislation provides is necessary as many consumers
of dietary supplements are perplexed by the multiple types and brands
they see on store shelves. In fact, a recent survey indicates that
when Americans purchase ginseng products, only 6 percent are familiar
with the significant differences between Panax ginseng and
Siberian "ginseng." In addition, with only 12 percent of respondents
aware of the new guidelines, this creates a timely opportunity for
public education on ginseng products.
survey, conducted by Caravan Opinion Research on behalf of Pharmaton
Natural Health Products, a manufacturer of several ginseng products,
indicates that consumers base their ginseng/supplement purchasing
decisions on healthcare provider recommendation (53%), personal
recommendation from a family member or friend (15%), and the media
differences between Panax ginseng and what has been known
as Siberian "ginseng" are distinct and notable.
cultivation of a Panax ginseng crop is time intensive, taking
from five to seven years to grow to a harvestable root size. Conversely,
Siberian "ginseng" -- whose Latin name is Eleutherococcus senticosus
-- consists of dried roots and root parts of a spiny, stemmed shrub
that may be harvested within one year, generally making it cheaper
to buy than true Panax ginseng.
the new law narrows the selection of ginseng supplements, the level
of quality in the marketplace still varies widely from product to
product. Consumers who are searching for a quality, energy-enhancing,
ginseng supplement should insist on a product that contains Panax
ginseng, has been manufactured according to strict quality guidelines
and is standardized to assure the same clinically proven ingredients
from purchase to purchase.
all Panax ginseng products are the same," said Levine. "When
purchasing ginseng supplements, consumers should carefully read
the product label to ensure they are getting what they pay for --
a product that is both standardized and clinically proven to be
Congressional amendment to the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act
was officially signed into law by President Bush in May 2002. The
law clearly prohibits any herbal product that is not derived from
the genus Panax to use the term ginseng on labeling or advertising.
Natural Health Products.