Ginseng is a perennial herb classified according to their origin. 99% of all ginseng in the world is produced in Korea, China and North America. Korean Ginseng is by far the most popular. Ginseng is a medicinal root that has been used for thousands of years. Korean Ginseng is most popular due to its high potency in treating various illnesses and increasing stamina.
Ginseng is also divided according to the way they are processed.
White Ginseng - Ginseng with the skin peeled and dried in the sun.
Red Ginseng - Steamed and naturally dried ginseng 1~2 times. Takes about 7 days to produce.
Black Ginseng - Steam and naturally dried ginseng 9 times. Takes about 50 days to produce.
Saponins are natural occuring compounds found in various plants and come from the root word of soap. It is because of its soapy characteristic that if you shake it, it creates bubbles or "froth" lasting for 10 minutes or longer. It is bitter tasting and prevents the plant from being eaten and helps the plant against microbes and fungal infections.
During the 1960s isolation and research into ginseng saponins started and currently there are over 100 types of ginsenosides discovered: Rb1, Rc, Rd & Rb2 account for the majority of all ginseng saponins.
The composition of the concentration of certain Saponins change when ginseng is fermented and processed into Red Ginseng and Black Ginseng.
Ginseng Saponins are ingested and will start to break down in the intestines through gut microorganisms into minor ginsenosides and other metabolites.
Compound K is the final metabolite in Ginseng Saponin. General Bio is continuing research into Ginseng Saponin and is currently in the process of considering ginsenosides F2 as another highly effective health supplement.
Compound K cannot be created from Ginseng Saponins through physical means. It cannot be created through the current heating and drying processes of ginseng. In nature, ginseng saponins can only be broken down to Compound K through microorganisms in the ground. Older ginseng has increased concentration of saponin along with tiem for bacteria to metabolize the saponin into Compound K. This is the reason why the older the ginseng - the more potent its effects thus more expensive. The yield of Compound K in nature is extremely low and takes a very long time - years.
There are a variety of broad pharmacological effects of Compound K ranging from anti-inflammatory effects to anti-cancer effects (as shown in the above picture). Research into Compound K is very active with over 300 papers published in reputable scientific journals.