There are three different herbs commonly called Ginseng, namely Asian or Korean Ginseng (Panax ginseng), American Ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) and Siberian "Ginseng" (Eleutherococcus senticosus). The latter herb is actually not ginseng at all, but the Russian scientists responsible for promoting it believe that it functions identically.
Glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) are complex molecules composed of proteins and sugars, and are found in a variety of bodily tissues, including the blood plasma, joints, and the mucosal (mucous membrane) lining of a variety of organs, including the gastrointestinal tract and the bladder. Various compounds exist. Heparan and dermatan coat the urinary tract of cats while glucosamine and chondroitin constitute the major GAGs in the joint.
Hawthorn, derived from various species of Crataegus, including C. oxyacantha, and C. monogyna, is one of the oldest known and best researched plants in western herbal medicine. It has been used in Chinese medicine to enhance digestion for centuries, and more recently as a means of lowering blood cholesterol.
There are an estimated 140,000 species of mushrooms in the world, and only an estimated ten percent of them have been characterized. Mushrooms are thus one of the great untapped resources in botanical medicine, especially when it is considered that their chief medicinal effects are against the diseases that concern us most, including cancer.
The term 'nutraceutical' was coined to represent compounds found in food and herbs that are not technically considered nutrients such as vitamins or minerals, but which may have a profoundly beneficial impact on the health of the body. Common examples of nutraceuticals include glucosamine, used in the treatment of arthritic conditions of dogs and cats, and antioxidant compounds that help in the prevention of cancer.
Much of the research into nutrition has focused on the minimum requirements of nutrients to avoid overt deficiency diseases. Orthomolecular therapy (from 'ortho' meaning 'right') places its focus on providing optimal levels of nutrients and substances that are normally present in the body in order to either prevent the development of disease or to treat disease once it has occurred.