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Ginseng Overview

Ginseng has been used in different cultures as a super cure-all herbal product for at least 2,000 years.  The perennial plant, Ginseng is from the Araliaceae family.  It is the roots of the Ginseng plant that have medicinal qualities.  Ginseng has been used to treat illness of virtually every part of the human body from insomnia, memory loss, cancer, colitis, anxiousness, menopause to impotence.

Photo Credits: Copper and Gold - Keira Bishop

Kinds of Ginseng

There are three kinds of Ginseng in the world:

  1. Panax ginseng - Asian Ginseng that grows in China, Korea, Japan and Russia.  Much of the China grown Ginseng are imported from China to the rest of the world.
  2. Panax quinquefolius - American Ginseng grows in several parts of the United States mostly from Wisconsin.
  3. Eleutherococcus senticosus - Siberian Ginseng is not truly a Ginseng plant but it does have the similar effects as the Asian and American Ginseng.

Growth and Cultivation of Ginseng in China

Ginseng grown in the wild is considered the best and the most potent but it is rare and expensive.  Due to wild Ginseng being considered as an endangered species, it is controlled by law in many countries.

A true wild Ginseng root can yield hundreds of thousands of US dollars in the open market.  Ginseng is grown in the wild in shady mountain forests of northwest China.  It is found in elevations between 400 to 1,000 m.

When cultivated in the farmer's field, Ginseng takes 3 to 6 years before it can be harvested.  This grown version of Ginseng is likely your import from China opportunity.

How Ginseng Works

Various beneficial chemical compounds have been isolated from Ginseng including vitamins B-1 and B-2, minerals, enzymes and flavonoids (Vitamin P).  The active ingredient in Ginseng is a mixture of chemicals called ginsenosides. These are very similar in structure and are classified as steroids.

Ginseng has many effects on the human brain even though its exact pharmacology is unknown.  Here are some scientific theories on how Ginseng works:

Ginseng Drug Effects

The effects of Ginseng peak in about thirty minutes because the herbal medicine is taken orally and is quickly absorbed.  Most drugs are broken down by the body as they pass through the digestive system.  This does not appear to be the case with Ginseng.  The Ginseng active ingredients are excreted in the same condition as they were ingested.

Ginseng Effects on the Human Body

Ginseng has been known to have various physiological effects on the human body:

Ginseng Tea

Ginseng Tea is drank as a daily rejuvenator.   The Ginseng Tea is made by adding sliced or ground Ginseng root into a non-metallic container. Ginseng Tea is steeped longer than western teas in order to extract all of the ginsenosides.  Two cups of tea are made from the Ginseng root to get all the ginosenoside benefits.