Ginseng (pronounced ‘jin-seng’)
Ginseng is one of the most popular herbal medicines in the world. It’s considered the King of herbs. Ginseng is any one of the 11 species of slow-growing perennial plants with fleshy roots, belonging to the genus Panax of the family Araliaceae.
Ginseng = Cure-All
The botanical name Panax, which means ‘cure-all’ in Greek, was applied to this genus because Carl Linnaeus, the father of taxonomy, was aware of its widespread use in Eastern Asian medicine. Ginseng is often found in heavily wooded areas, requiring rich soil to thrive.
There are two main types of ginseng based on where they grow: Korean ginseng (Panax ginseng) is found in Korea and Manchuria (northeastern China), and American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) is found in the Northern USA and Canada.
Besides that, there are several other ginsengs: Chinese ginseng (Tian Qi or Pseudoginseng) found in Yunnan (southern China); Japanese ginseng (Panax Japonicus C.A. Meyer) found in Japan; and Vietnamese ginseng (Panax Vietnamensis) found in Vietnam, the southernmost of known ginseng.
There are two big misunderstandings regarding ginseng.
1) When people say Asian ginseng, they mostly mean Korean ginseng. There are other types of ginseng in Asia. So, please check what ginseng specifically they indicate.
2) About Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus): It is in the same family but not the genus as true ginseng. Like ginseng, it is considered to be an adaptogenic herb. The active compounds in Siberian ginseng are eleutherosides, not ginsenosides. Instead of a fleshy root, Siberian ginseng has a woody root. So we hope you understand that Siberian ginseng’s health benefits are completely different from other ginseng plants.
There are also major types of classified by processing method: Raw ginseng, White ginseng (dried ginseng), Red ginseng.
Raw Ginseng: Freshly harvested ginseng from the field (raw material).
White Ginseng: Fresh ginseng is dried under the sun or with hot air to reduce the water content. The color turns white.
Red Ginseng: Fresh ginseng is steamed and dried repeatedly several times. The color turns reddish. They use Korean ginseng mostly and it is commonly called Korean red ginseng.
Ginseng is well-known as a powerful adaptogen, characterized by the agency of ginsenosides.
Ginseng root looks like the human body, leading ancient Asians to believe it was good for humans. If you examine a ginseng root, you’ll see that its forked roots look like legs, and the knob at the top looks like a head. So the plant really does resemble a human body. In fact, it is believed that the higher the quality of the ginseng root, the more it will resemble a human figure. Just as we consider a well proportioned human body to be beautiful, a ginseng root that has a well-balanced appearance is considered to be of higher quality than less well-formed roots.
Nowadays, wild ginseng is rare and much esteemed and, in Korea, a person who finds a single wild hundred-year-old root can become a millionaire. Most ginseng roots, however, are cultivated and harvested when the plant is from three to ten years old.
Try Korean red ginseng now so you can see for yourself. May your life be blessed with abundant health and inner peace.