American Ginseng has been used by the Native Americans long before Europeans arrived, but only introduced into China less than 300 years ago. Around 1718, Joseph Lafitau, a French Jesuit missionary Canada, recognised American Ginseng plant which bears a close resemblance to a Chinese medicinal plant called Panax ginseng, or Asian Ginseng, and launched a lucrative trade with China.
It used to be more popular in Asia than it is in North America or in Europe. This is gradually changing as American Ginseng becomes more available in various forms and is better understood.
In North America, people consume Ginseng in ways that hide the taste by encapsulating them and ‘swallowing the pill’.
In Asia, products labelled Ginseng such as tea, candy, chewable tablets or soup must carry a distinct Ginseng taste. Some Asians chew a slice of Ginseng root regularly for health maintenance.
The variety and contents of ginsenosides in American Ginseng are lower than Korean Ginseng and Chinese Ginseng. However, research implies that American Ginseng can provide the strengthening and immune-enhancing effects of Asian ginseng without over-stimulation as it contains higher levels of ginsenoside Rb1, which has a sedative effect on the central nervous system. Therefore, it is more suitable for the young, middle-aged and stressed.
In TCM, American Ginseng is considered a Yin-tonic that is cooling, Qi-tonifying, yet non-stimulating. These properties have made American Ginseng the most popular supplement for urban dwellers whose fast-paced and energetic lifestyles may call for more calming and balancing herbs.
To extract the most ginsenosides out from American Ginseng, slice and simmer it in water for 45 minutes or longer and take it as a soup.
Tip: When brewing herbs, containers made out of iron or aluminium should be avoided altogether as the chemical interaction may occur and affect the original nature of the herb. Ceramic clay, glass or stainless steel container can be used.
When purchasing an American Ginseng product or any health product, the label is the most important source of information. Look for the botanical name- Panax quinquefolius to confirm the actual content of the package. Do not confuse American Ginseng with Korean Ginseng (Panax ginseng), Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus), Notoginseng (Panax notoginseng) or Nepal Ginseng (Panax pseudoginseng).
Get more information on it from reliable sources and only purchase it from reliable companies specialises in herbal ingredients.
Ginseng may look otherworldly to the layman, but there’s more to this herb than meets the eye!