FUN FACTS

BN: American (Panax quinquefolius) AKA 花旗参 , 西洋参, Korean (Panax ginseng) AKA 人参, Radix Ginseng

Cost ranges from $175 to $3330 per 8 ounces depending on age and grade.   The most expensive I've seen is for 30-50 year old ginseng.  Marathon County, Wisconsin claims to produce 95% of the American ginseng.  Wild ginseng has a mythical quality that can fetch high prices - The $250K GinsengThe $400K ginseng.  The $588K ginseng.  Old ginseng roots are often auctioned individually - here is one for $23K USD at liveautioneers.com

CONSTITUENTS

acetylenic compounds, triterpenoid, ginsenosides, panaxans, sesquiterpenes  

Vitamins A, E, and B12, sodium, patassium, riboflavin, niacin, sulfur, calcium, iron, manganese, thiamin, tin, phosphorous, and magnesium.

USES/BENEFITS

TCM on American, TCM on Korean, Hormonal balance and support, chronic fatigue from fibromyalgia (Korean), stress reducer, menopause, immune functions and infection resistance, liver functions, lower blood sugar, diabetes.  Promotes hair growth. Fortifies against cold and flu by boosting immune systemChronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).

Korean/Asian or American ginseng can be eaten raw, as a tea, boiled in soup or water, steamed, extracted in alcohol, or in a capsule with root powder. Roots should be at least 6 years old to be effective.

CAUTION

— U.S. Laws

Wild or wild simulated American ginseng can be harvested in 19 States.  Exportation of ginseng is controlled by U.S. Fish and Wild Life Services, which stipulated that only roots 5 years or older can be exported and must be harvested during designated state harvest seasons.   Each plant must have 3 leaves (each leaf is comprised of 3-5 leaflets), which ensure that plants are at least 5 years old.  Illinois requires 4 leaves and be 10 years old.   Roots of artificially propagated American ginseng can be exported at any age.  You can tell the age by 1) Counting the number of leaves 2) Count the number of stem scars on the root neck.  The 18 approved States with wild ginseng harvest programs have regulations that prohibit the harvest of plants with fewer than 3 leaves, except for Illinois, which requires wild ginseng plants to have 4 leaves and 10 years old.

"Organic" ginseng must be certified by a third party under Organic Food Production Act (OFPA) See the Certification Process.  However, Ginseng gathered in the wild is probably free of pesticides and fertilizers.

— Usage

Large doses of Panax Ginseng can raise blood pressure. Very small doses have a mild sedative effect.  Some websites claim that the ideal dose is ideal dose is 300 to 400 mg daily.  Do not use Korean ginseng if pregnant or nursing without consulting your doctor.   Consult a herbalist or Chinese doctor before taking anything on a daily basis.  Too much of anything is a bad..

TYPES

Panax ginseng - Korean, Asian, Oriental, Chinese or even Red Ginseng.  Contain active ingredients known as ginsenosides.  Often considered the true ginseng because it has a higher percentage of ginsenosides.  Shown to regulate blood sugar and manage stress.  Very warm, promoting heat. An adaptogen (helps the body adapt to stress, fatigue and cold).  Improves thinking and concentration, increase memory retention and boost physical and mental stamina.  Panax ginseng can be white and red.  White ginseng is dried fresh root.  Red ginseng is steam treated and then dried.  This herb has been prescribed in TCM for thousands of years and has acquired a mystical quality.

Panax quinqefolius - American Ginseng.  Contain active ingredients known as ginsenosides, but weaker than the Asian version.  Shown to regulate blood sugar and manage stress.  Treats headaches, fever, indigestion, infertility, and boost the immune system.   Reduce stress and fatigue.  A cool agent and an adaptogen.

Eleutherococcus senticosus - Siberian or Russian Ginseng is really in a completely different plant family.  It produces similar effects as Korean ginseng, but it contain no ginsenocide.  Its main chemical constituents are ciwujianoside and eletherosides.  It isn’t a stimulant and must be taken for regularly for an extended period before results are noticed.  It's illegal in the U.S. to call this plant ginseng.

Withania somnifera -  known as Indian Ginseng, poison gooseberry, or winter cherry.  Contains no ginsenocide.  The main constituents are alkaloids and steroidal lactones.  It has anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor, anti-stress, antioxidant, immune-enhancing, and rejuvenating properties.  It has been used in ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years.  It's illegal in the U.S. to call this plant ginseng.

Talinum paniculatum – AKA Jewels of Opar, Java ginseng, Pink Baby Breath, and Fame Flower.   Leaves are more widely used as a vegetable in Brazil6 and the Philippines.   Pharmacological studies have shown estrogenic activities.  Like ginseng, it contains tannins, steroids, and triterpenes.   It's also antibacterial, antifungal, and antimicrobial.  

PRODUCTS

Hsu Wisconsin Ginseng

Central Wisconsin Ginseng

Canadian Ginseng Farm

Korea Ginseng Corp

Concentrated Korean Ginseng Extract

American Ginseng Capsules

Changbai Mountain Ginseng

I've listed a few examples of ginseng products above.  They are a drop in the ocean for ginseng products.  Do your research and find what works best for you.   The picture is from a box of American Ginseng my mother gave me.  It was cultivated in Wisconsin.

GROWING

Ginseng is like wine, the older it is, the more potent and expensive.  Mother Nature Network has a great article on how to grow Ginseng at home - Click here.

Basic steps for growing Ginseng on your land

  1. Find seeds or roots  
  2. Pick the right location (shaded with hardwood trees)
  3. Sow seeds in the fall or early winter
  4.  Wait 5 to 10 years for plants to mature
  5.  Harvest carefully since the roots are your prize

Photo: https://cocomaini.files.wordpress.com/2013/05/panaxq.jpg

 

Ginseng can also be grown indoors since it require shade.  You can plant them from fresh root like the video below or you can cheat and order them already germinated from the many online sellers.

 

EDITOR NOTES

Ginseng is a ridiculously huge market.  My parents spent thousands of dollars on this herb.  I use to think they were crazy, investing such funds on fru-fru things like herbs.  Wild ginseng has been picked to near extinction in China.  The increase in value is getting environmentalists concerned over the mass picking happening in the U.S.  Cultivated gin goes for a fraction of the price, ranging from $50 to $100 per pound.  I've been drinking ginseng tea to see if it has any impact on lowering my blood sugar.  Ginseng was always prized, but never with this much demand.  I remembered tossing a whole box of Korean ginseng that an uncle gave me as a gift.  I was in my 20's and knew little about the usage of herbs and thought I was going to be young and vibrant forever.

Ginseng has a slightly tart and bitter taste.  For that reason, I never liked it when my mother would put stew slices of it with chicken or eggs.  She would try to convince the kids to drink the broth, but of course, we were all too smart for our own good.

I have found the tea to be useful when I feel a cold coming on.  I've steeped the slices, drink the tea, and then eat the slices after the tea.  At prices like this, I want to consume every bit of it.

Useful for preventing upset stomach - My husband felt and upset stomach coming on as he usually does from greasy food.  In this case, it was Fried Chicken.  I brewed him a concoction with 4 slices of American ginseng and 2 hawthorn berries, along with a slice of dried lemon for flavor and vitamin C.   Two cups of the tea and he never had the upset stomach.

Drink Korean Ginseng in winter and American Ginseng in summer.  I didn't believe this until I drank American ginseng on one of the coldest nights in Austin this year.  I had two cups of the tea with about 4 small slices and I was freezing in my bedroom that night.  Our temperature was set at 65 degrees and I should not have been feeling constant chills under a down blanket.  American ginseng cools your qi while Korean ginseng is a stimulant and warms our qi.  I'm finding both to be very strong and definitely should be used with some forethought.

Our first Korean Java ginseng plant ($10 for 1 year old plant).  It's cute.  Just 5 more years to go for it to be useful in a cup of tea! Will not root unless grown from seed.

KG 1/7/2017

This is one of 2 Korean Ginseng plants I ordered online.

KG 4/9/2018

They grow slowly indoor but propagate easily by cuttings!  The plant on the left was getting too all and thin, so I cut off the top 3 inches and just stuck it next to the original plant on the left.  After a month, it rooted and started growing leaves!

5/19/2018

Today, after it flowered, I finally learned that this is NOT Korean ginseng.  It was sold as Korean ginseng plants on Etsy.  I'm very disappointed that I was defrauded.  This is Talinum Paniculatum or Jawa /Java ginseng or Jewl of Opar.  See above.

REFERENCES

  1. http://www.raysahelian.com/withaniasomnifera.html
  2. https://www.fws.gov/
  3. https://nccih.nih.gov/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4350143/
  5. https://www.umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/asian-ginseng
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4660448/

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