Panax notoginseng is a species of the genus Panax, and it is most commonly referred to in English as notoginseng. In Chinese it is called (tianqi), tienchi ginseng, san qi or sanchi, three-seven root, and mountain paint. Notoginseng belongs to the same scientific genus as Asian ginseng. In Latin, the word panax means "cure-all", and the family of ginseng plants is one of the best-known herbs.
Notoginseng grows naturally in China and Japan. The herb is a perennial with dark green leaves branching from a stem with a red cluster of berries in the middle. It is both cultivated and gathered from wild forests, with wild plants being the most valuable. The Chinese refer to it as "three-seven root" because the plant has three branches with seven leaves each. It is also said that the root should be harvested between three and seven years after planting it.
It is classified in Chinese medicine as warm in nature, sweet and slightly bitter in taste, and nontoxic. The dose in decoction for clinical use is 5-10 g. It can be ground to powder for swallowing directly or taking mixed with water: the dose in that case is usually 1-3 grams. In the Bencao Gangmu (Compendium of Materia Medica, 1596 A.D.) it is stated: "On account of the fact that sanqi is a herb belonging to the blood phase of the yang ming and jue yin meridians, it can treat all diseases of the blood." Notoginseng is a herb that has been used in China quite extensively since the end of the 19th century. It has acquired a very favorable reputation for treatment of blood disorders, including blood stasis, bleeding, and blood deficiency. It is the largest ingredient in (Yunnan Bai Yao), a famous hemostatic proprietary herbal remedy that was notably carried by the Viet Cong to deal with wounds during the Vietnam war.
Like P. ginseng, P. quinquefolius and P. vietnamensis, notoginseng contains dammarane-type ginsenosides as the major constituents. Dammarane type ginsenosides includes 2 classifications: the 20(S)-protopanaxadiol (ppd) and 20(S)-protopanaxatriol (ppt) classifications. P. notoginseng contains high levels of Rb1, Rd (ppd classification) and Rg1 (ppt classification)ginsenosides. Rb1, Rd and Rg1 content of P. notoginseng is found to be higher than that of P. ginseng and P. quinquefolius in one study.
When taken orally, ppd-type ginsenosides are mostly metabolized by intestinal bacteria to ppd monoglucoside, 20-O-beta-D-glucopyranosyl-20(S)-protopanaxadiol (M1).  In humans, M1 is detected in plasma from 7 hours after the intake of ppd-type ginsenosides and in urine from 12 hours after the intake. These findings indicate that M1 is the final metabolite of ppd-type ginsenosides.
M1 is referred to in some articles as IH-901, and in others as compound-K.
Biological activities See Table below
A study done on rats reported in Pharmacotherapy showed that bleeding time was reduced to half. Michael White, Pharm.D., of Hartford Hospital in Connecticut, tested the effectiveness of notoginseng on external bleeding. He and his colleagues separated the notoginseng components that could be dissolved in water, alcohol, or oil and applied them to cut rat tails: saponins in the alcohol-soluble notoginseng component decreased bleeding time by 52 percent Other studies show cardiovascular healing and protection against cancer.
The principal dammarane-type triterpenoid saponins from the roots and flower buds of Panax notoginseng were found to show potent hepatoprotective effects from injury induced by d-galactosamine and lipopolysaccharide.
Taiwanese scientists studied the sensitization effect of Panax notoginseng extract and purified Saponin (Rb1) on the radiation response of an experimental tumor (KHT sarcoma) in comparison with its effects on a normal tissue (bone marrow) in mice. Panax notoginseng extract at a concentration of 0.1–100 mg/kg produced an increase in tumor radiosensitivity. The sensitization effect was maximal at 10 mg/kg and at 30 minutes after injection. Higher doses were toxic to the bone marrow stem cells. Rb1 at a concentration 0.001 to 1 mg/kg produced an increase in tumor radiosensitivity, with maximum effect at 1 mg/kg. Higher doses were not toxic to the bone marrow stem cells. The differential effect on tumor suggest that further purified or synthetic versions of this extract may be useful not only in vascular-related diseases but also in cancer therapy.
With its high level of use- perhaps a million doses a year- few reports of apparent adverse effects have occurred, none of them related to toxicity of its herbal constituents. An article in the journal Chinese Herbal Drugs Two basic types of adverse responses occurred: Two cases of esophagitis from consuming tablets without drinking enough water causing irritation or acid reflux. Nineteen allergic reactions including dermatitis, shock, purpura, blisters, or other idiosyncratic reactions. The manufacturer of the notoginseng products consumed was not known, nor was the botanical identity of the raw materials confirmed and with Chinese patent medicine where formulas and adulteration often occurs. There may be fewer occasions of idosyncratic reactions due to the herb alone.