Ginseng is one of the oldest known medicinal plants. Its use as a medicinal plant in diverse parts of Asia (specially China and Korea) dates back thousands of years. It’s botanical name, Panax quinquefolius, means “all-heal” in Greek, and was applied to this genus because of its wide use in Chinese medicine.

American ginseng, Panax quinquefolius, has been used by native peoples of central and eastern North America for at least 290 years (probably for much longer, but this, again, is speculative). It was especially familiar to speakers of Iroquoian and Algonquian languages.

Chinese traditional health care has used herbs like Ginseng as their foundation for over five thousand years. There are over two thousand articles and books about Ginseng in the Oriental countries which confirm its effectiveness based on their herbal medical philosophies. The United States are just being enlightened through the coordination and concentrated efforts of the Ginseng Research Institute. In China, the Chinese pay one month’s salary to buy one pound of American Ginseng.


Ginseng has been used traditionally against fatigue and as a tonic for invigorating various systems of the body. Russian scientists coined the term “adaptogen” to describe a substance or herb that could increase the body’s resistance to stress or had an invigorating action upon the consumer. Thus Korean ginseng is considered to be, along American ginseng, an adaptogenic herb. Ginseng also purportedly enhances mental concentration. Active ingredients contained in this herb may stimulate the immune system and thus have a role in the treatment or prevention of cancer, although more controlled and clinical research is warranted to confirm this. This herb also lowers blood sugar levels and might be useful in the treatment of type 2 diabetes, but only under medical supervision. Ginseng has been used to treat male impotence and waning sexual desire, although not all the clinical results have been positive. Ginseng may also have estrogenic effects. This herb may hold promise as a general tonic for the elderly, but professional advice should be sought before initiating any treatment. Note: As with various other herbs and supplements available on the market today, the quality of ginseng products may vary widely from brand to brand. Some products may in fact contain little, if any, ginseng. A related plant, called “Siberian ginseng”, is not a true ginseng and has been sometimes used to adulterate various herbal products and formulas supposedly containing Korean ginseng. Be sure to buy ginseng products from a reputable source.

How is it used?

Ginseng may be consumed as a decoction (parts of the root boiled in water), as tea, extract, tincture or capsules containing the pulverized root. Recently, various types of beverages containing ginseng and other herbs have been made available to the public, mostly advertised as �high energy� drinks. Their effects upon the consumer have yet to be evaluated.

What Kind Should I take:

It is necessary to answer this question from a viewpoint exploring the Chinese philosophy of “yin and yang.” Health, simply stated, is maintained by balancing opposites called “yin” and “yang.” Yang is concerned with heating, energy, and metabolism. Yin, at the other end of the spectrum, is characterized as cooling, passive, and storing. The Chinese have been using herbs such as ginseng to maintain this balance so that more potent remedies – ones with side effects and possibly lethal consequences – are not necessary. Asian Panax ginseng has been traditionally used as a restorative tonic for the “yin” person. Studies conducted in the United States have verified the different chemical profiles of American and Asian ginseng. American Ginseng is ideally suited for those who are constitutionally “yang,” the active, stressed, aged, and those who need to improve their general health. Considering our dietary habits (red meats, dairy products, processed foods, etc.) and stressful lifestyle of American society, American Ginseng is the most suitable for our way of life. The most sought after Ginseng in China is American Ginseng. White’s Ginseng is American Ginseng.

Remember that it is not the purpose of ginseng to replace the professional services of your physician. By all means see a medical doctor for any condition which requires his/her services. Ginseng should be considered an aid to medical treatment, not a replacement.

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