Prince Ginseng (Tai Zi Shen) is commonly known as pseudostellaria root or Hai Er Shen (Kid Ginseng) too. As the name implies, this is a type of ginseng root that can be even taken by prince or kids. Besides, many people, even a lot of herbalists who deal with prescriptions and Chinese herbs on daily basis, think it should refer to the small ginseng roots. Sayings like these were right only in ancient times because a lot of medical books did record it as the “ginseng in smaller size.” But things have changed since hundreds of years ago when the root of a flowering plant in the pink family were found with similar but weaker efficacy as ginseng. Since then, the name prince ginseng has nothing to do with ginseng any more although it is named so. Today, this herb is mainly used in the treatment of cough, loss of appetite, edema and other diseases. In addition, it is one of common tonic used in autumn regimen.
What is Tai Zi Shen (prince ginseng)?
Medicinally it refers to the dried tuberous root of Pseudostellaria heterophylla (Miq.) Pax ex Pax et Hoffm., which is a plant in the carnation family, Caryophyllaceae. Other common names of it include radix pseudostellariae, pseudostellaria root, false starwort, “ginseng of the lungs”, Pseudostellaria heterophylla, Taizishen, and the like. In China it is mainly produced in provinces of Jiangsu, Anhui, and Shandong. It is often harvested in summer when most of the leaves and stems are withered. And the rest job is to remove the fibrous roots, and dry in the sun after slightly scalding by placing in boiling water or just directly dry in the sun. Medicinally it is used raw. By the way, don’t confuse it with Prince of Peace American Ginseng Root or prince American ginseng since they are not the same thing.
Pseudostellaria heterophylla is a perennial herb, 15 to 20cm in height. Root is in the shape of a long spindle. Lower stem is purple and nearly square while the upper stem is nearly round, green, and with 2 rows of fine hairs and slightly enlarged node. Leaves are opposite and slightly with endoplasm; lower leaves are spatulate or oblanceolate, and with acute apex and attenuate base; upper leaves are from lanceolate to ovate. Flowers are axillary and there are 2 different types. The cleistogamous flower is located in the axils of lower stem leaf, small, pubescent, and with small stalk, 4 sepals, but no petals; the ordinary flowers are 1 to 3, apical, white, and with 1-4cm purple pedicels, 5 lanceolate sepals, 5 obovate petals, 10 stamens, and 1 pistil. Capsule is nearly spherical and 5-lobed when ripe. Seeds are oblate and with multiple papilla-like nodules. Bloom time is from April to May and fruiting period is from May to June. Main habitats are hillside forest and rocky crevices.
Main chemical composition of its root is lipids, sugar, amino acids, trace elements like Mn (13.4μg/g) and others, heterophyllin A and B, and more. And lipids are palmitic acid, linoleic acid, glycerol-1-monolinoleate, 3-Furfuryl pyrrole-2-carboxylate, behenic acid, 2-minaline, β-sitosterol, and so on.
Prince ginseng benefits
Ben Cao Cong Xin (New compilation of materia medica) reviews that this is a big tonic for promordial energy. And modern medicine believes that it is rich in saponins and fructose and it is able to slow down aging, relieve fatigue, and enhance the body’s resistance. And its modern pharmacology shows that it has significant stimulating effect to lymphocyte.
Compared to the efficacy of tonifying the qi and generating yin fluids in Ren Shen (panax ginseng), Dang Shen (Codonopsis), and Xi Yang Shen (American ginseng), prince ginseng’s tonic properties is far weaker. However, it has own strong suit – its healing properties are quite mild and stable. That’s to say, it is ideal for people who are suffering chronic diseases and require long-term medication. More importantly, large doses of pseudostellaria have much less side effects. For the above-mentioned reasons, it is exceptionally welcomed by those who are so physically weak that they just can’t withstand the common tonics.
In a word, it is an uncommon tonic that is of cool nature and the best substitute for ginseng in many cases. For example, if you are suffering from deficiency of spleen and stomach and want to give ginseng a try for the first time, prince ginseng can be the best bet since you don’t need to worry about the problems that the fierce tonic properties of ginseng may cause; the deficiency-type patients taking tonic in summer may stir up internal heat due to the combination of summer heat and efficacy of a tonic. But pseudostellaria is the exception; pseudostellaria makes sense to patients suffer from high blood pressure and Qi and Yin deficiency. It can not only improve the condition, but also avoid increasing blood pressure like ginseng does; middle-aged patients taking pseudostellaria won’t cause excessive internal heat; kids taking pseudostellaria won’t cause early puberty. More than that, the top 5 health benefits of prince ginseng root are as follows.
1) Weakness after the illness. Prince ginseng tea is good to the physically weak after the illness. It can improve physical health and promote disease recovery;
2) Loose stool due to spleen deficiency. Pseudostellaria-based remedies can not only strengthen spleen and treat loose stool, but also enhance a person’s appetite;
3) Diabetes. Pseudostellaria-based remedies can control blood sugar and help keep blood sugar at bay;
4) Neurasthenia. Pseudostellaria is good news to those who suffer from poor sleep and listlessness because it can promote sound sleeps and improve the symptoms of neurasthenia simultaneously;
5) Others. Pseudostellaria has a preventive and treating effect for lung-heat induced cough, palpitation, edema, dry mouth and other diseases. What’s more, it can still enhance children’s physical fitness and promote the growth and development of children. Hence, for the children in poor physical fitness, they can eat pseudostellaria under the guidance of professionals.
Sample pseudostellaria recipes on herbal remedies
The Chinese Pharmacopoeia says that it is sweet and slightly bitter in flavor and neutral in nature. It goes to meridians of spleen and lung. Basic functions are replenishing qi to invigorate the spleen, promoting production of body fluid and nourishing the lung. Essential crown prince ginseng uses and indications include spleen deficiency, body fatigue, loss of appetite, weakness after illness, Yin deficiency, spontaneous sweating, thirst, and dry cough due to lung dryness. Recommended prince ginseng dosage is from 9 to 30 grams in decoction. Or it can be used in other forms like ginseng supplements, tea bags, extract, and more.
1) Shan Xi Zhong Cao Yao (Shanxi Collection of Chinese Herbal Drugs). It is coupled with Fu Xiao Mai (Triticum Aestivum) to treat spontaneous sweating.
2) Tian Mu Shan Yao Yong Zhi Wu Zhi (Tianmu Mount Medicinal Flora). It works with yellow rice wine and brown sugar to cure labor injuries, lassitude, poor appetite, and weak pulse.
3) Qing Zhong Xiao Pi Tang from Dr. Li Shoushan, It is formulated with Mai Men Dong (Ophiopogon Tuber), Zhi Ban Xia (Prepared Pinellia), Chai Hu (Bupleurum), Dan Shen (Salvia Miltiorrhiza), etc. to heal superficial gastritis, reflux gastritis, atrophic gastritis and other diseases.
Prince ginseng side effects and contraindications
So far, there are no known side effects about prince ginseng. But it is not necessarily to use it more than 60 grams, just in case wasting herbs. Besides, although it is good to kids, it is an herb and tonic that needs your attention. Before giving it to your child, do consult your physician for the professional opinion first. TCM wise, it shouldn’t be used in those with syndrome of exterior excess and dominating pathogenic factor.