Panax japonicus Pseduo ginseng
There are five different species of ginseng. Each one providing a different spectrum of saponins, which are called panaxosides. One of the species of ginseng thought to be low in active saponins and therefore less important as a medicinal herb is panax japonicus.
This herb is often referred to as pseudo-ginseng or its Japanese name of chikusetsy-ninjin.
Panax japonicus synthesizes a different set of saponins than the adaptogenic herb, panax gingeng. Its library contains a saponin dubbed Chikusetsu-saponin.
Chikusetsu-saponin is being investigated for its anti-lipase activity similar to the activity of the pharmaceutical weight loss drug, Xenical (Orlistat).
The source of the saponins are the rhizome of the panax japonicus plant. The rhizome is the underground stem of the plant.
The sapongenin that is built into chikusetsu saponin, binds with the lipase binding site, occupying the receptor, and preventing a fatty acid chain from binding. Without the ability of fats to bind to lipase, they remain as a long chain and are unable to be absorbed in the small intestine. So instead of being digested and its energy stored, fats are excreted in the feces. This is the mechanism behind Xenical, the top selling prescription weight loss drug and Alli, its OTC version.