Alternative Nature Online Herbal
Learn herb uses for medicinal and edible plants growing wild all around us.

Ginseng

Panax Quinquefolium

Other Names: American Ginseng, Panax Ginseng, San, Redberry, five fingers, man root, divine root, Root of life

Ginseng Herb Uses and Medicinal Properties

Ginseng herb has a long history of  use as an alternative medicine going back over 5,000 years, and appears on several continents (origin unknown). It is and was used extensively in Native American medicine. Ginseng root is adaptogen, cardiotonic, demulcent, panacea, sedative, sialagogue, stimulant, tonic and stomachic. Ginseng has been studied over the past 30 years in many countries. Its remarkable ability to help the body adapt to mental and emotional stress, fatigue, heat, cold, and even hunger is confirmed and documented!

The major constituents in Ginseng are Triterpenoid saponins, Ginsenosides (at least 29 have been identified), Acetylenic compounds, Panaxans, and Sesquiterpenes. Taken over an extended period it is used to increase mental and physical performance, Ginseng is medicinal and therapeutic for the whole body. A very powerful medicinal herb, it both stimulates and relaxes the nervous system, encourages the secretion of hormones, improves stamina, lowers blood sugar and cholesterol levels and increases resistance to disease. The ginsenosides that produce these effects are very similar to the body's own natural stress hormones. Ginseng is used in the treatment of debility associated with old age or illness, lack of appetite, insomnia, stress, shock and chronic illness. Ginseng also increases immune function, resistance to infection, and supports liver function. The leaf is emetic and expectorant. The root is candied and used as a an edible medicinal kind of candy. Ginseng stimulates and increases endocrine activity in the body. Promotes a mild increase in metabolic activity and relaxes heart and artery movements. Stimulates the medulla centers and relaxes the central nervous system.

CAUTION: Don’t take Ginseng and Ginseng mixtures with Coffee as it will accelerate the caffeine effects on the body and can cause diarrhea.    

Ginseng is said to be highly good for the metabolism, and promotes general well being. It has a reputation as an aphrodisiac, but this seems to be totally based on the fact that it relaxes the overly tense person a bit. If you suffer from back pain or TMJ adding this to a tea of Catnip and slippery elm may help. It is also presumably useable as an ingredient in a meade or magewine.

Dosage :  This seems to vary, some say 1000 mg. a day, others more or less! I just break off a small piece of the dried root (aspirin size) and swallow it with the daily vitamin.

Ginseng Native Habitat 

   Ginseng is a perennial herb, native to Eastern N. America found from Maine to Georgia, west to Oklahoma and Minnesota. It grows in rich soils in cool woods.

How to grow Ginseng

Ginseng requires a deep moist humus rich soil in a shady position in a woodland, growing well on north-facing slopes and in deep cool woodland areas. Seeds should be sown in a shady position in a cold frame or greenhouse, and spend least their first winter there. Plant into their permanent positions in late summer or early spring. It has a large, thick, fleshy, whitish, root, growing 3 to 4 inches in length, specimens have been found twice this size. Most roots are spindle shaped with smaller appendages. The stem is simple and erect, on average about 1 to 2 foot high, bearing three to five large, palmate, leaves in a whorl atop the stem, each leaf is long stalked, divided into five finely-toothed, short petiole, leaflets, and a single, terminal umbel, with a few small, yellowish or light green flowers which grow on a short stalk from the center of the whorl of leaves. The fruit is a cluster of bright red berries. Flowers bloom in June and July. Gather the roots in Fall after the berries or seeds have fallen away. Dry for later herb use. The wild supply is quickly being diminished due to over harvesting for export to china and other countries, in some areas it is illegal to harvest during certain months of the year.

Ginseng Folklore  and History

The roots are called Jin-chen by the natives of China, meaning ’like a man,’ in reference to their looking like the human form. The American Indian name for the plant, garantoquen, has (strangely) the same meaning and uses, seeing how each race had no knowledge of the existence of the other. The American Indians attributed much magic power to Ginseng. The Seminole Indians using it as a Love Medicine, rubbed it on the body and clothes to bring back a divorced wife.

Article by Deb Jackson & Karen Bergeron    Copyright 2000 

More info on Ginseng

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