Aug 082011

[photo-ginseng or panax ginseng]

Herb Name: Ginseng (also called Panax Ginseng by scientific name)

Herb Name in Chinese: 人參 (Rén Shēn)


  • Ginseng is the root of a slow-growing perennial plant that grows in Eastern Asia, North America, and Canada.
  • Ginseng roots are typically pulled from the soil after 4 – 6 years of cultivation and dried before they are sold. The roots have a sweet and slightly bitter flavor, with a cooling menthol-like aftertaste.
  • With several similar-looking roots with “ginseng” in the name, people often confuse these with the ginseng pictured above (Panax Ginseng).
  • Generally speaking, true ginseng are those that belong to the Panax genus. A good way to tell is to look at the plant’s scientific name. It is important to know which ginseng you are using as they have distinct functions and health benefits. Prime examples of other ginseng species that are often mistaken for Panax Ginseng are:
    • American Ginseng (花旗參 or 西洋參, and Panax Quinquefolius by scientific name)
    • Japanese Ginseng (东洋参 or Panax japonicus by scientific name)
    • Korean Ginseng (高麗參, or Panax schinsen by scientific name)
    • Crown Prince Ginseng (太子參, or Pseudostellaria Heterophylla by scientific name)
    • Siberian ginseng (刺五加, orEleutherococcus Senticosus by scientific name)

Ginseng Benefits and Uses:

  • Ginseng is considered an herb adaptogen often used to increase resistance to stress, anxiety, and fatigue.
  • According to the Guideline for Safe Use of Common Chinese Herbal Medicine, published with the support of WHO (World Health Organization), ginseng is known in Chinese medicine to be neutral in property and benefits the spleen, lung, and heart. Ginseng is also known to nourish the qi, promote the production of body fluids, and tranquilize the mind.
  • Ginseng is often used in Chinese herbal soups and medicine, teas, health supplements, skin care products, and sometimes added to energy drinks.


  • Wash dried ginseng roots in cool water before use.
  • Soaking is not necessary if the ginseng is used in a long-boiled soup (2+ hours of cooking)

Where to Buy:

  • Ginseng can be purchased in whole roots, sliced, in powdered form, as liquid extracts or as tea bags from local herbal stores or online.

How do you use your Ginseng? Leave a comment below to share your ideas.

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Resources and further reading: Wikipedia

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