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Molecules 2017, 22(9), 1518; doi:10.3390/molecules22091518

Review
State of Panax ginseng Research: A Global Analysis
Wanqi Xu 1Orcid, Hyung-Kyoon Choi 2 and Linfang Huang 1,*
1
Institute of Medicinal Plant Development, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences (CAMS), Peking Union Medical College (PUMC), Beijing 100193, China
2
College of Pharmacy, Chung-Ang University, Seoul 156-756, Korea
*
Correspondence: Tel.: +86-10-5783-3197
Received: 1 July 2017 / Accepted: 1 September 2017 / Published: 11 September 2017

Abstract

:
This article aims to understand the global and longitudinal trends of research on Panax ginseng. We used bibliometrics to analyze 3974 papers collected from the Web of ScienceTM Core Collection database during 1959–2016. The number of publications showed a steady growth before 2000 and exponentially increased in stage III (2000–2016, about 86% of the papers were published). Research on P. ginseng was conducted in 64 countries, mainly in Asia; in particular, 41% and 28% of the publications were from South Korea and China, respectively. The institutions from South Korea and China had high publication output and close cooperation and provided the majority of financial support. All top 10 authors and four of the top 20 journals in terms of number of publications originated from South Korea. The leading research subjects were pharmacology (39%), plant science (26%), and integrative complementary medicine (19%). The hotspot of P. ginseng research transformed from basic science to application, and multidisciplinary sciences will play a substantial role in the future. This study provides a comprehensive analysis to elucidate the global distribution, collaboration patterns, and research trends in the P. ginseng domain.
Keywords:
Panax ginseng; bibliometrics; global cooperation; emerging trends

1. Introduction

Panax ginseng is a perennial herb that belongs to the Araliaceae family and is distributed in 35 countries, mainly in Asia, particularly South Korea and China [1]. Since ancient times, P. ginseng has been used as traditional medicine because of its heart-protective [2], anticancer [3], and neuroprotective properties [4]. Since the 21st century, the number of publications on P. ginseng has exponentially increased; more than 3400 articles, including 242 reviews, have focused on P. ginseng. However, few studies on P. ginseng employed bibliometrics analysis. In 2010, Kim [5] provided an overview of the trends in ginseng research. Therefore, understanding P. ginseng research from the global and longitudinal perspectives is crucial.
Bibliometrics analysis can be used to delineate development trend of an academic research domain, explore current research emphasis and hotspot, and predict future research focus and achievement [6,7]. This analytical method is especially suitable for P. ginseng research, which is a complex and multidisciplinary research field evolving rapidly since 2000.
In this study, we perform a bibliometric analysis of global research on P. ginseng between 1959 and 2016. This paper aims to reveal the intellectual landscape of P. ginseng and identify cooperation patterns, significant authors and papers, and emerging trends.

2. Data Collection and Methods

Data were retrieved from the Web of ScienceTM Core Collection database. “Panax ginseng” was chosen as the search topic, and the retrieval time span was set to 1900 to 2016. A total of 3974 records were obtained between 1959 and 2016. Every bibliographic record in SCI contains the author, title, source, abstract, keywords, and cited references of a study.
A total of 64 countries, 9612 authors, 999 journals, 6609 keywords, and 13 languages were counted by HistCite software, a tool used for literature and statistical analyses. The original records were visually analyzed using the information visualization software CiteSpace V, which was invented by Dr. Chen Chaomei from the Drexel University. CiteSpace is the most advanced and distinctive information visualization tool that can reveal the intellectual landscape and detect recent emerging trends.

3. Results

Figure 1a shows the number of publications from 1959 to 2016. The number of published articles about P. ginseng generally increases annually. Since 1959, when German scientist PETKOV W [8,9] started to investigate the pharmacology and pharmacodynamics of P. ginseng, 3974 papers were published until 2016. Based on the number of publications, the past 60 years can be preliminarily divided into three stages, namely, stage I, 1959–1979; stage II, 1980–1999; and stage III, 2000–2016. Stage I (1959–1979) was considered the budding period, when less than 10 papers were published annually. Stage II (1980–1999), also known as the development period, began in 1980, when the number of annual publications reached 10. Stage III (2000–2016) or the boom period is the phase when an increased number of scholars began to focus on P. ginseng research.
According to publication category (Figure 1b), the 3974 publications obtained mainly included 3398 formal research articles (85.6%). A total of 262 review articles, 140 proceedings papers, and 103 meeting abstracts accounted for 6.6%, 3.5%, and 2.6% of the publications, respectively. Moreover, 33 notes, 13 letters, 7 corrections, 7 book chapters, 6 editorial materials, and 5 news items comprised less than 1.8% of all the publications.
Based on the heat map of the geographical distribution of research countries (Figure 2a), Asia, North America, and Europe produced the highest number of publications. P. ginseng research was conducted in 64 countries. In the first tier, South Korea ranked first in terms of research output by contributing 1632 articles (41.1%), and China ranked second with 1191 publications (27.5%). In the second tier, 396 papers originated from the USA and 381 papers from Japan. In the third tier, India, UK, Canada, and Russia published 127, 109, and 79 papers, respectively.
Burst detection is a computational technique used to identify abrupt changes in events and other types of information [10]. A burst is detected through two attributes, namely, strength and duration [11]. The red line segment of the column indicates the time period of burst detections. Figure 2b shows 15 countries with burst detection during 1959–2016. Of these countries, Japan exhibited the highest strength of 77.84 from 1973 to 2001. Hence, Japan conducted substantial works on P. ginseng during these years. Scholars from Saudi Arabia started showing interest in ginseng research from 2013 and contributed 13 publications.
As shown in Figure 2c, the top four countries (South Korea, China, USA, and Japan) with the highest publication number worked in close cooperation with one another. These four countries also worked closely with Canada, Germany, Norway, UK, Australia, Egypt, France, Italy, and India.
Table 1 lists the top 10 organizations that conducted and provided funds for P. ginseng research. Of these organizations, eight originated from South Korea and two, namely, Chinese Academy of Sciences and Jilin University, were from China. Similarly, the top 10 sponsor organizations comprised 70% Korean institutions and 30% Chinese institutions (National Natural Science Foundation of China, Ministry of Science and Technology of China, Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities). The National Natural Science Foundation of China funded for 263 papers, accounting for almost half of the articles funded by the top 10 sponsor organizations.
Figure 3 shows the cooperation among global research institutions. The thick line indicates high collaboration frequency. A linear partnership was found among Chinese institutions such as Shenyang Pharmaceutical University, Hong Kong Baptist University, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Changchun University of Chinese Medicine, Jilin University, and Jilin Agricultural University. Numerous Korean institutions presented group cooperation relationship to Jilin Agricultural University from China. Kyung Hee University, Chungbuk National University, Seoul National University, and Konkuk University were in the center position. These Korean institutions cooperated with Zhejiang University and China Pharmaceutical University from China. In Japan, most research institutions exhibited strong cooperation with one another. Five organizations (Russian Academy of Sciences, Toyama Medicinal and Pharmaceutical University, Chongqing Pharmaceutical University, Kyushu University, and Northumbria University) conducted P. ginseng research individually rather than cooperating with other institutions.
Figure 4a shows the publication outputs of top 10 authors and their total local citation scores. The top 10 authors originated from Korean institutions; in particular KIM DH and KIM SH contributed the highest number of publications and had the highest citation rate. Basing on the exponential increase in publication numbers during 2000–2016, we focused on the authors who started to burst from 2000 (Figure 4b). Twenty authors, including YANG DC, KIM YJ, KIM JH, and KIM SH, who also belong to the top 10 authors, had bursts from different years until 2016. Particularly, the articles of KIM SH showed high citation rate. In addition, Yuan CS, Wu JA, and Attele AS from University of Chicago had the highest citation rate and published 29, 7, and 3 articles, with TLCS of 1115, 765, and 684, respectively.
Each paper indexed by the Web of ScienceTM Core Collection was assigned with one or more subjects. A total of 120 unique subject categories were found (Figure 5a). The most common category (presented with the largest circle) is pharmacology and pharmacy, followed by plant science, chemistry, and integrative and complementary medicine. The nodes with thick purple ring have high betweenness centrality, which represents great transformation potential of a scientific contribution, and values tend to identify the boundary spanning potential that could lead to transformative discoveries [10,11]. Although engineering, biotechnology and applied microbiology, and toxicology and cell biology occupy a small space, their rings in purple indicate high betweenness centrality.
The subject categories of the included papers were analyzed to determine their burstness (Figure 5b). Sixteen subject categories were detected with bursts. Multidisciplinary sciences, science and technology, and other topics showed burst from 2014 to 2016.
The major topics in P. ginseng research are shown in Figure 6. The visual representation, known as a form tree, was generated using clustering software Carrot based on the 38 clusters of the 3974 publications. The leading topics in P. ginseng research are cell activity, activity of the ginseng extract, study groups, use of ginseng root, cell investigation, induction of ginseng cells, and treatment of cells.
Figure 7a shows the major keywords of P. ginseng research. The top 10 keywords in terms of the frequency of occurrence are: ginsenoside, saponin, ginseng, rat, cell, extract, mice, expression, in vitro, and apoptosis. The purple rings of ginsenoside, saponin, constituent, cell, red ginseng, rat, mice, apoptosis, cancer, and polysaccharide indicate their betweenness centrality, and the red ring indicates burst. This representation reveals the development of P. ginseng research focus (Figure 2b).
At a fine-grained level, keywords with burst reveal the new trend in P. ginseng research. Seventy-seven keywords showed burst. Considering that many articles were published after 2000, we focused on keywords with burst since 2000 (Figure 2b). The burst of keywords until 2016 are Korean red ginseng, nf kappa b, compound k, metabolite, methyl jasmonate, Alzheimer’s disease, biotransformation, ginsenoside rg1, differentiation, inflammation, and cancer. Inflammation, methyl jasmonate, compound k, metabolite, and Alzheimer’s disease had the strongest burst strengths of over 10.
A total of 3974 papers were found in 999 different journals. Table 2 shows that approximately all of the papers were written in English (98.0%), and the remaining papers were written in 12 different languages, such as Chinese (34), Japanese (16), and Russian (11). A few papers were written in Portuguese, German, Polish, French, Hungarian, Italian, Korean, Spanish, and Turkish.
Table 3 displays that most of the top 20 highest publishing journals originated from South Korea (4), Germany (3), England (3), the USA (3), and the Netherlands (3).
Table 4 lists the articles with the highest impact factor. The paper, “Herb-drug interactions,” published in The Lancet in 2000 had the highest impact factor of over 47. The article, “In vitro flowering of embryoids derived from mature root callus of ginseng (Panax-ginseng),” published in Nature on 1980 had an impact factor of over 40.
Table 5 lists the top 10 references with the most citations from 1959 to 2016. Most of the top 10 cited references are reviews, and half of them were published before 2000.

4. Discussion

The number of research on P. ginseng worldwide showed a high growth between 1959 and 2016 and surged since 2000. Asia, especially South Korea and China, are the most active countries on P. ginseng research because this herb is mainly distributed in these countries (South Korea, 57.4%; and China, 31.1%). The amounts of P. ginseng produced in China and South Korea account for more than 55% and 34% of the total world output [1]. The top 10 organizations funding P. ginseng research all originate from South Korea and China. Hence, these two countries provide stronger financial support for P. ginseng research than the other countries. However, Japan greatly contributed to study of P. ginseng during 1973–2001. Saudi Arabia showed great interest in P. ginseng research since 2013, and most of the publications from this country are related to ginseng extracts.
The global cooperation pattern of different institutions is as important as the research output. Generally, institutions in South Korea and China have the highest number of publications and closest cooperation worldwide. Institutions from Japan, Russia, and UK exhibit less cooperation with the other countries. The USA belongs to the top publishing country but does not appear in the cooperation network (Figure 3). This finding suggests that research organizations in the USA are scattered.
Korean scholars conducted numerous studies on P. ginseng and published 41% of the total articles obtained. Korean authors, namely, KIM DH and KIM SH, submitted many publications and had high citations. In particular, KIM SH had burst during 2009–2016 and will become an important scholar in the P. ginseng domain in the near future.
China ranks second in terms of the quantity of publications. However, no institution on China belonged to the top 10 highest publishing journals. China still needs to improve the quality of P. ginseng research. China has abundant resources, a large number of research funding support, and high cooperativeness with other countries and thus exhibits high potential on P. ginseng research.
Figure 5a displays the main disciplines which are involved in P. ginseng research. Pharmacology, pharmacy, plant sciences, chemistry, integrative & complementary, biochemistry and molecular biology are the leading disciplines. Chemistry is the core discipline, which connects many other disciplines. Plant sciences are closely linked to integrative & complementary medicine, which have close cooperation with chemistry and medicine. Interestingly, chemistry is a bridge between these important subjects, like pharmacology & pharmacy, chemistry and medicinal. Figure 5b shows that the interest of scholars gradually changed from basic science to applied science during 1959–2016. Studies on neuroscience and neurology showed strong burst and have been the hotspots since 2000. At the bottom of Figure 5b, the subject categories of multidisciplinary sciences and science and technology exhibited a period of burst between 2014 and 2016, with burst strengths of over 7.6. This finding reveals a new trend of multidisciplinary disciplines in P. ginseng research. According to the clustering results of topics, numerous scientists focused on ginseng root, extracts, and cells that including cell activity, induction of ginseng cells and treatment of cells. At a fine-grained level, keywords with high frequency of occurrence indicate hotspots, such as ginsenoside, rat, cell, extract, expression, in vitro, and apoptosis. Inflammation, Alzheimer’s disease, compound k, and metabolite have the strongest burst since 2000. Therefore, these keywords will be the central concern of P. ginseng research in the near future. By analyzing disciplines, topics and key words, it's not difficult to find that the future study of P. ginseng may be biased towards clinical research and application, such as clinical neurology, toxicology and polymer science. Ginseng root, extracts (especially ginsenoside) and treatment of inflammation, Alzheimer’s disease would continue to be the research hotspots.

5. Conclusions

We utilized the visualization software CiteSpace to analyze the bibliographic data collected from the Web of ScienceTM Core Collection database of P. ginseng research during 1959–2016. The research output showed a steady growth, and Asia, especially South Korea and China, was the most active area. A close collaboration was found between these countries. Our study reveals the intellectual landscape and detects emerging topics and trends. This study can help people who are unfamiliar with the active area of P. ginseng research to elucidate the global situation and overall structure of this domain. This paper also provides research hotspots, structured knowledge, and emerging trends with regard to P. ginseng research.

Acknowledgments

The work was supported by grants from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 81274013 and No. 81473315), CAMS Innovation Fund for Medical Sciences (CIFMS) (No. 2016-I2M-3-015), and the Key Projects in the National Science and Technology Pillar Program (No. 2011BAI07B08).

Author Contributions

Linfang Huang, Hyung-Kyoon Choi and Wanqi Xu conceived and designed the study. Wanqi Xu acquired and processed the data, performed the analyses and analyzed the results, and wrote the manuscript. Linfang Huang and Hyung-Kyoon Choi edited the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final version of the manuscript.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

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  • Sample Availability: Data are available from the Web of ScienceTM Core Collection database.
Figure 1. The status of publications. (a) Publication counts during 1959–2016 per year; (b) Types of publications.
Figure 1. The status of publications. (a) Publication counts during 1959–2016 per year; (b) Types of publications.
Molecules 22 01518 g001
Figure 2. Global research status of Panax ginseng. (a) Geographical distribution of research countries; (b) 15 countries with burst detection among 64 countries; (c) Global cooperation.
Figure 2. Global research status of Panax ginseng. (a) Geographical distribution of research countries; (b) 15 countries with burst detection among 64 countries; (c) Global cooperation.
Molecules 22 01518 g002
Figure 3. The collaboration patterns of global research institutions.
Figure 3. The collaboration patterns of global research institutions.
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Figure 4. Authors with highest publication numbers and burst detection result. (a) Top 10 highest publishing authors and total local citation score; (b) Authors with strongest burst since 2000.
Figure 4. Authors with highest publication numbers and burst detection result. (a) Top 10 highest publishing authors and total local citation score; (b) Authors with strongest burst since 2000.
Molecules 22 01518 g004aMolecules 22 01518 g004b
Figure 5. Major disciplines of P. ginseng and burst detection result. (a) Category co-occurrence network; (b) 16 subject categories have occurrence burst during 1959–2016.
Figure 5. Major disciplines of P. ginseng and burst detection result. (a) Category co-occurrence network; (b) 16 subject categories have occurrence burst during 1959–2016.
Molecules 22 01518 g005aMolecules 22 01518 g005b
Figure 6. A visual survey of major topics on P. ginseng generated by the Carrot system.
Figure 6. A visual survey of major topics on P. ginseng generated by the Carrot system.
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Figure 7. Major keywords of P. ginseng research and burst detection result. (a) Major keywords on P. ginseng research; (b) Keywords with strongest frequency burst since 2000.
Figure 7. Major keywords of P. ginseng research and burst detection result. (a) Major keywords on P. ginseng research; (b) Keywords with strongest frequency burst since 2000.
Molecules 22 01518 g007aMolecules 22 01518 g007b
Table 1. Top 10 highest publishing and sponsoring institutions in P. ginseng domain.
Table 1. Top 10 highest publishing and sponsoring institutions in P. ginseng domain.
RankResearch InstitutionPublication AmountSponsor InstitutionSponsoring Amount
1Kyung Hee University323National Natural Science Foundation of China263
2Seoul Natl University198Ministry of Education Science and Technology73
3Konkuk University145Korean Society of Ginseng61
4Chungbuk National University135Rural Development Administration Republic of Korea37
5Chinese Academy of Sciences124Korea ginseng corporation37
6Chungnam National University108Ministry of Education Science and Technology Republic of Korea35
7Kangwon National University84National Research Foundation of Korea Nrf32
8Jilin University82National Research Foundation of Korea25
9Korea University75Ministry of Science and Technology of China22
10Chonnam National University69Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities22
Table 2. Languages of P. ginseng publication.
Table 2. Languages of P. ginseng publication.
RankLanguageNumberPercentage
1English389698.03
2Chinese340.86
3Japanese160.40
4Russian110.28
5Portuguese40.10
6German30.08
7Polish30.08
8French20.05
9Hungarian10.03
10Italian10.03
11Korean10.03
12Spanish10.03
13Turkish10.03
Table 3. The information about top 20 highest publishing journals.
Table 3. The information about top 20 highest publishing journals.
RankJournalNumberPercentageIFRegion
1Journal of Ginseng Research3137.8744.082South Korea
2Journal of Ethnopharmacology1293.2452.981Ireland
3Planta Medica1243.1192.342Germany
4Biological & Pharmaceutical Bulletin952.3901.683Japan
5Phytotherapy Research691.7363.092England
6Food Science and Biotechnology531.3330.699South Korea
7American Journal of Chinese Medicine531.3333.222USA
8Archives of Pharmacal Research521.3082.324South Korea
9Chemical & Pharmaceutical Bulletin511.2831.133Japan
10Phytochemistry451.1323.205England
11Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry451.1323.154USA
12Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine431.0821.740England
13Plant Cell Reports401.0062.869Germany
14Journal of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Analysis370.9313.255Netherlands
15PLoS ONE350.8812.806USA
16Molecules300.7552.861Switzerland
17Plant Cell Tissue and Organ Culture290.7302.002Netherlands
18Phytomedicine280.7043.526Germany
19Journal of Chromatography A260.6543.981Netherlands
20Journal of Medicinal Food240.6041.955South Korea
Table 4. Top 10 articles with the highest IF.
Table 4. Top 10 articles with the highest IF.
RankTitleYearJournalIFReference
1Herb-drug interactions2000The Lancet47.831[12]
2In vitro flowering of embryoids derived from mature root callus of ginseng (Panax ginseng)1980Nature40.137[13]
3High-dose Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng) for cancer-related fatigue (CRF): A preliminary report2013Journal of Clinical Oncology24.008[14]
4Herbal remedies in the United States: Potential adverse interactions with anticancer agents2004Journal of Clinical Oncology24.008[15]
5Electrocardiographic and blood pressure effects of energy drinks and Panax ginseng in healthy volunteers: A randomized clinical trial2016Circulation19.309[16]
6Progesterone regulates cardiac repolarization through a nongenomic pathway—An in vitro patch-clamp and computational modeling study2007Circulation19.309[17]
7Modulating angiogenesis: the yin and the yang in ginseng2004Circulation19.309[18]
8Production of bioactive ginsenoside compound K in metabolically engineered yeast2014Cell Research15.606[19]
9Traditional Chinese medicine: an approach to scientific proof and clinical validation2000Pharmacology & Therapeutics11.127[20]
10Enantioselective prophenol-catalyzed addition of 1,3-diynes to aldehydes to generate synthetically versatile building blocks and diyne natural products2010Journal of the American Chemical Society13.858[21]
Table 5. Top-10 most cited references.
Table 5. Top-10 most cited references.
RankTitleTLCSYearJournalReference
1Ginseng pharmacology—Multiple constituents and multiple actions5121999Biochemical Pharmacology[22]
2Panax ginseng pharmacology: A nitric oxide link?2321997Biochemical Pharmacology.[23]
3Antidiabetic effects of Panax ginseng berry extract and the identification of an effective component1372002Diabetes[24]
4Botanical characteristics, pharmacological effects and medicinal components of Korean Panax ginseng C. A. Meyer1342008Acta Pharmacologica Sinica[25]
5Inhibitory effect of tumor-metastasis in mice by saponins, ginsenoside-rb2, 20(r)-ginsenoside-rg3 and 20(s)-ginsenoside-rg3, of red-ginseng1331995Biological & Pharmaceutical Bulletin.[26]
6Recent advances on ginseng research in China1311992Journal of Ethnopharmacology[27]
7Antioxidant and anti-tumor promoting activities of the methanol extract of heat-processed ginseng1162000Cancer Letters.[28]
8Panax ginseng1152003American Family Physician[29]
9Inhibition of tumor angiogenesis and metastasis by a saponin of panax-ginseng, ginsenoside-rb21051994Biological & Pharmaceutical Bulletin[30]
10Chemistry and cancer preventing activities of ginseng saponins and some related triterpenoid compounds1012001Journal of Korean Medical Science.[31]
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