378. PANAX.—GINSENG. (Official, 1840-1880). The root of Pa'nax quinquefo'lium Willdenow. Cultivated in Ohio, West Virginia, Minnesota, and quite extensively and profitably in Michigan, and exported to China, where, from its fancied resemblance to the human figure, it is supposed to possess miraculous powers in preventing and curing diseases, and where at one time it was valued at its weight in gold. It has, however, little medicinal properties except as a demulcent and aromatic stimulant; not used extensively in medicine. It is a soft, yellowish-white, fusiform root, about the thickness of the finger, with two or three equal branches below. A cross-section shows a hard central portion, surrounded by a thick, soft, white inner cortical layer; with thin bark, containing numerous reddish resin-cells; wood-wedges narrow; medullary rays broad; odor feeble; taste sweet, slightly aromatic. The sweet principle is panaquilon, C12H25O9.
Preparation of Panaquilon.—Concentrate the cold infusion to a syrup, precipitate by concentrated solution of sodium sulphate, wash the precipitate thoroughly with the saline solution, then treat with alcohol, which dissolves the principle; evaporate to dryness.