FUN FACTS

The only two ginseng that contains ginsenocide are: 1) American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) AKA 花旗参 , 西洋参 2) Korean ginseng (Panax ginseng) AKA 人参, Radix Ginseng

Cost ranges from $75 to $3330 per 8 ounces depending on age, size, and grade.   The most expensive found online is between 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 prices great than gold- The $250K GinsengThe $400K ginseng.

French Jesuit priest, Father Joseph Francois Lafitau, first found American ginseng in Montreal, Canada.   He started exploring for them after reading another missionary’s description of the ginseng he learned about in China in 1714.  With the help of the Mohawk tribe near Montreal, he found Panax quinquefolius throughout eastern Canada and United States.

Korean Ginseng has been in use over 5000 years and is thought to have been discovered in Manchuria, China.  By the third century AD. China's demand for ginseng exploded and Korea began cultivating it by the 1900s.

CONSTITUENTS

acetylenic compounds, triterpenoid, ginsenosides, panaxans, sesquiterpen

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, a natural stimulant.  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.  American Ginseng is a cooling 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

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

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.

TCM NOTES

This information is for education purposes only.  Seek the advice of your physician before taking any home remedies, herbs, or supplements.

PropertiesTreatmentsUsageCautionsFormulas
Temp Taste Ent. Meridians Photo
Warm (Korean)
Cool
(American)

Name
American
花旗参 ,
西洋参 Korean
人参
Sweet
Bitter

Lung
Spleen

Key Actions

Tonifies qi

 

 

 

Indications/Issues Description / Symptoms Usefulness(1-10)
Chronic Fatigue ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦
Stress ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦
Poor Immune system ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦
COPD ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦
Diabetes ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

 

Actions Actions Actions
 Tonifies Yuan Qi Tonifies Lung Qi Stops Thirst
Tonifies Heart Qi Calms the Spirit Helps Impotence

DOSAGE information found online

Always consult your doctor before taking any herbal supplements.

 

PARTS USED

• Root   • Flower    • Leaves

***Always consult your doctor before taking any herbal supplements.***

Contraindications

• Yin dificiency   • Stagnant fire   • hypertension   • Bleeding disorders   • Pain in chest   • Excess heat

Drugs Interactions

• Coffee   • Stimulants   • Antidepressants drugs   • Antidiabetic drugs   • Anticoagulant drugs

• Be cautious when combining ginseng with other herbs that reduces blood sugar.  While it is uncommon, depending on how many of the herbs are combined, hypoglycemia may occur.

Herb Interactions

Xiang Fan/ Incompatibility:  Li Lu (Rx. Veratri)

Xiang Wei/ Counteraction:

Xiang Sha/ Suppression:

Xiang Wu / Antagonism: Lai Fu Zi (Sm. Raphani), Zao Jiao (Fr. Gleditsiae),  Wu Ling Zhi (Faeces Trogopterori)

Xiang Xu/ Accentuation:

Xiang Shi/ Enhancement:

The roots of this herb is an ingredient in the following formulas:

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.

Buyers BEWARE!  I ordered two Korean ginseng plants  (below) and later learned that these are NOT Korean ginseng as advertised.  The leaves look nothing like Korean or American ginseng once I did further research.  This is Talinum Paniculatum/ Java ginseng, which contains no ginsenocide.

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.

Editor Tours Hsu Ginseng farm in Wausau, Wisconsin (July 2018)

The farm offers an hour long tour.  The tour can be done in English, Cantonese, or Mandarin.   Visitors are welcome to ask any questions regarding the cultivation.  In fact, it was a surprisingly friendly and family oriented operation.  Mr. and Mrs. Hsu are the founders and owners but have since retired happened to be present during our tour.  They happily took photos with us and spent over 20 minutes explaining how they started the farm and why.  Hsu Ginseng was one of the first to cultivate American ginseng over 45 years ago.  It started when Mr. Hsu sent wild ginseng home to his mother for her poor health.  He noticed the immediate effects and decided to start farming the plant.   Their eldest son, Will, now runs the business.  The tour is $5 per person and $25 per group.  The tour ends at the company store.  Be sure to ask for your 10% off for buying on site.

Editor Tours Schumacher Ginseng in Marathon City, Wisconsin (July 2018)

Schumacher Ginseng  offers a tour, and like Hsu farm, you must call at least 24 hours in advance so they can schedule a guide.  Schmacher Ginseng has been in business for over 50 years.  It was founded by Mr. and Mrs. Schumacher.  Their son now runs the family business.  One can go by their main office during business hours to buy ginseng.  They are very friendly and open.  Mrs. Schumacher was happy to take photos with us.  They showed us the different steps of how they process and trim each root.  If you buy the large roots, they'll let you pick each from their inventory.  Even before we bought our stash, I asked if they had any ginseng seeds.  The manager (son) quickly went to the back and found some and he gave them to us free of charge.  We truly appreciated this welcoming and family oriented atmosphere.

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/

This information in this post came from many sources, including class notes, practitioners, websites, webinars, books, magazines, and editor's personal experience.   Always consult a doctor prior to using herbal medicine.  The information here is strictly for educational purposes.

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