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Ginseng, or Panax quinquefolium in North America, was discovered over 4000 years ago in the mountains of Northern China. It quickly became popular for its strength-giving, rejuvenating powers, and its human shape became a powerful symbol of divine harmony on earth.  “Seng Nong Herbal Classic”, a 2000-year old Chinese medicinal book, described "Ginseng is a tonic to the five viscera, quieting spirit, stabilizing the soul, preventing fear, expelling vicious energy, brightening eyes, improving vision, opening up heart, benefiting understanding, and if taken for long will prolong life."

The commercial harvesting of North American ginseng began in Canada in 1710s after a Jesuit priest heard of the root from Chinese. He began searching for this wondrous herb and discovered North American ginseng growing near Montreal. Thus he began a vigorous export of ginseng to China.  By the end of the 19th century, however, the wild root was near extinction due to over-harvesting. At this point, farmers in North America began cultivating the sensitive plant.


Ginseng and Health


Clinical research has demonstrated that ginseng improves psychological function, immune response, and conditions associated with diabetes. The main active components of ginseng are ginsenosides, which have been shown to have a variety of beneficial effects, including anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anticancer effects.  Ginseng is widely used to improve overall energy and vitality, particularly during times of fatigue or stress, to stimulate immune function, to treat male impotence, and to improve memory.


North American and Asian ginseng differ in their chemical composition and each appears to have distinct biological effects. From a traditional medicine point of view, these two types of ginsengs are thought to be complementary. The Chinese perceive North American ginseng to be more “Yin”, meaning it is used to reduce ‘Heat’ in the body. In comparison, Asian ginseng is thought to be more “Yang”, meaning it is used to raise ‘Heat’ in the body.



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