Known for its health benefits, ginseng has been used in Asia for more than 3,000 years.
- Ginseng – genus Panax., a perennial plant with fleshy root, found in cooler climates of North America and Eastern Asia.
Studies have been done in Asia and Russia to assess the far reaching claims that ginseng as an adaptogen can be used to treat everything from fatigue to cancer, though the studies have been inconclusive and many researchers claim the studies were highly flawed. The two primary compounds said to be responsible for the various health benefits are Ginsenoside and Gintonin. Read this link to learn of the many health benefits attributed to the plant. This link explains the benefits of using ginseng as a natural prosexual herb.
- Siberian ginseng (genus Eleutherococcus) is a relative of ginseng and said to have many similar benefits, though the roots is more woody than fleshy and it is prohibited from being sold as ginseng in the U.S. The name is reserved for the genus Panax.
In my research I discovered that ginseng can be cultivated in a home garden. This piqued my interest, as it may make for a profitable crop to sell to local health food stores and Asian markets. Further research reveals this source for ginseng seed and ginseng root and this one too.
On my most recent trip to China, I was given a package containing a dried ginseng root. I tried it in tea form and ate the remaining root after brewing, though it was rather woody. Perhaps I should have allowed it to steep long to soften it more. While I was cutting some pieces from the dried root, I was surprised at how dense and hard it was. There was a noticeable scent of soil or dried earth from the root. After ingestion, within 15 minutes, I noticed a slight boost in my mood with a sense of increased energy. December is a time of year when I have very low energy. So, a little pick-me-up is a welcome thing. I plan to purchase some seed and / or roots to plant in my garden next year. Planting ginseng in my garden fits nicely into the permaculture plan too.
Apparently, competition for hunting wild ginseng has become quite fierce in Appalachia and authorities have stepped in to regulate the harvest of same.
This link provides info on how and when to hunt for wild ginseng in the U.S.