What is American Ginseng?
Panax quinquefolium, customarily referred to as American ginseng, is a herbaceous perennial herb native to the northeastern states of the U.S. and in portions of southern Ontario and Quebec. Although some quantities are still harvested in the wild, the majority of current American ginseng production consists of cultivated product from select areas of Ontario, Wisconsin and British Columbia.

The plant flowers in early summer and matures in the third year producing red berries bearing one to three seeds each, in the fall. The mature four-year-old root is typically two to six inches long and up to one inch thick. A second seed crop is produced in the fourth year.

How large is the American Ginseng market?
The majority of Canadian ginseng root production is exported. In 2003, Canada exported almost 74% of its estimated production, exporting 1,508 tonnes worth over $69 million. Most Canadian ginseng production is exported in dry bulk root form and sold to buyers at the farm gate. Hong Kong is the world trading center for ginseng and Canada's largest market for ginseng root, importing 76% of total Canadian exports in 2003. The Chinese consumers are the ultimate end users of North American ginseng, and statistics show that China is the destination of 94% of all Canadian ginseng exports.

How is ginseng grown?
American Ginseng is propagated from seeds or small plants. The seed is harvested between late August and early October at a time when the berries are crimson red. Seeds are generally stratified and then planted in raised beds.

A variety of soil and climates have been effectively utilized in ginseng production. According to Dr. John Proctor, of the University of Guelph, the most effective soils are those rich in humus, ranging from silt loam to sandy loam in texture, underlain by porous sub-soils and well drained. Ginseng does not appear to be highly sensitive to temperature although it is sensitive to light and consequently must be grown under shaded conditions, which in commercial farms, is provided by an artificial shade covering.

Who consumes ginseng?
Asian Ginseng has been used by the people of eastern Asia for more than 5,000 years as a general tonic and is the single most important herb and a foundation for Chinese medicine. Since its discovery in 1716, American Ginseng has been gaining popularity in China. It is estimated that annual consumption of American ginseng, in various product forms, is in excess of 5 million pounds, of which over 90% is consumed in China and South East Asia.

What are the various product forms of American Ginseng?
Ginseng is sold in a variety of different product forms including graded roots, powder, capsules, tablets, tea, liquid extracts, tonics, candy, chewing gum, face lotion, shampoo, tobacco and isolated capsulized glycosides.

How is ginseng used?
American and Asian ginseng is traditionally used to treat opposite ailments. At the core of Chinese medicine are the concepts of "Yin" and "Yang." Yin represents the cooling, passive and storing elements of the body's operation, while Yang represents the healing, energy and metabolic aspects. The key to health under the concept of Chinese medicine is maintaining a balance between Yin and Yang. Sickness and disease are thought to arise when these two elements are out of balance.

What are the differences between American Ginseng and Asian Ginseng?

American Ginseng
  • Improve general health
  • Is ideal for an active lifestyle
  • Is an anti-stress characteristics
  • Has adaptogenic qualities
  • Is a cooling tonic
  • Strengthens internal organs
Asian Ginseng
  • Complements vegetarian diet
  • Has stimulating qualities
  • For use when the body is depleted
  • Is characterized as heating
  • Is used as a tonic for the blood
Traditionally, Ginseng has been used for medicinal purposes in China to treat the following ailments:

American Ginseng
  • High blood pressure
  • Depression
  • Headache
  • Skin dryness
  • Declined performance when fatigued
  • Anemia
Asian Ginseng
  • Debilitating effects of old age
  • Disease of the heart, kidney, liver, nervous system, digestive, and circulatory systems
  • Decline in potency in older men
  • Asthma, rheumatism and Alzheimer's disease Ginseng also has been accepted and used medicinally in Korea, Japan and in Russia
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