We tend to think of Asian Ginseng (Panax ginseng) as the most powerful Ginseng available.
However, many practitioners of TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) actually prefer American Ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) to the Asian species as a health and energy tonic.
Almost 80% of American Ginseng grown in Wisconsin is currently exported to Asia!
Like Asian Ginseng, American Ginseng is called “man root” because the highly recognizable root resembles the shape of a man.
Native American Cherokee, Iroquois, Ojibwa, and other tribes have used American Ginseng for hundreds, perhaps thousands of years.
It’s a “grandfather medicine,” or a primary herb in their natural medicine chest.
In the Native American view, American Ginseng supports vital energy, fertility (especially male), and healthy digestion. It’s also a Native headache and fever remedy.
Here in the US, wild American Ginseng is a national treasure. It’s a rich source of antioxidants, germanium, selenium, ginsenosides (saponins), and polysaccharides, all of which benefit the endocrine and immune systems.
Wild American Ginseng grows in forested, mountainous regions in the Eastern United States and Canada, but today has become very scarce.
Sadly, wild American Ginseng is endangered or at risk in many areas from overharvesting and poaching.
Today, ethical herbalists and manufacturers rely on only sustainably harvested, cultivated sources for herbal therapy.
While Asian Ginseng has heating (yang) properties, American Ginseng is more of a cooling (yin) tonic.
For this reason, American Ginseng is better tolerated, less stimulating to the nervous system and can be used over longer periods of time.
As an adaptogen, American Ginseng increases mental and physical energy, but without causing nervousness like caffeine or nicotine.
American Ginseng revitalizes and nourishes the hormonal and immune systems. Strengthening to the HPA (hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal) axis, it promotes balanced energy levels.
It’s an excellent choice for people who are stressed or overworked (that’s most of us today!).
For people who need energy for workouts or double shifts, it’s a stamina-enhancing plant whose benefits build over time.
Because it helps replenish the yin (female element) and vital fluids, American ginseng is also a key herb for thirst, weakness, dry eyes, and vaginal tissues.
American Ginseng is regularly used to relieve or prevent colds, flu, and chronic bronchitis. Germanium in American Ginseng improves the body’s use of oxygen and encourages respiratory health.
A 2005 study published in Canadian Medical Association Journal shows American Ginseng extract enhances immune response and stimulates natural killer cell activity to keep the body healthier through high risk seasons.
Herbalists also use American Ginseng with success in people with adrenal exhaustion, who are recovering from cancer, anemia, or who have immune problems like CFS (chronic fatigue syndrome), fibromyalgia, or lupus.
American Ginseng can be taken by itself or with other tonic herbs for immune enhancement for this purpose.
A premiere herbal adaptogen, American Ginseng normalizes an overactive stress response and may even decrease cortisol production.
It works well by itself or in herbal formulas to ease fatigue and mental exhaustion caused by chronic stress.
American ginseng is an effective sugar regulator, helping glucose metabolism for both hypoglycemia and diabetes.
In one study, 3 grams of American Ginseng taken with or 40 minutes before a glucose challenge helped people with type 2 diabetes maintain normal blood sugar levels.
American ginseng can improve fertility for men with low libido, erectile dysfunction, and poor reproductive health.
As an immune balancer, it may improve immune related fertility issues like anti-sperm antibodies, too.
American Ginseng must be taken for a week to a full month to experience the benefits.
If you’re buying the whole root, look for organic, cultivated roots or root pieces, which are strong and light colored.
Only choose the roots that have been allowed to mature for at least 7 years before harvesting.
High quality extract or capsule formulas like INNERGY daily tonic with American Ginseng are also available.
I personally love American Ginseng in extract or tea formulas. You can feel a slight tingle on your tongue from the roots, and it has a very balancing effect as an energy and immune system tonic.
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Ginseng for the common cold. (2016). Pacific College of Oriental Medicine.
Group, E. (2016, March). The Health Benefits of American Ginseng. Retrieved from Global Healing Center,
Holland, D. (2016). Ginseng. Retrieved from Dr. Christopher’s Herbal Legacy,
Shyong, F. (2015, Feb.). American Ginseng Has A Loyal Chinese Clientele. Retrieved from LA Times,
Viksan, V., Stavro, M.P., Sievenpiper, J.L., Beljan-Zdravkovic, U., Leiter, L.A., Josse, R.G., et al. (2000, Sept.). Similar postprandial glycemic reductions with excalation of dose and administration time of American Ginseng in type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care. Vol. 23, No. 9.
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