American Ginseng, a Truly Wonderful Panacea


American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) Illustration
American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) Illustration
(Photo by: Jacob Bigelow/Wikimedia Commons)

Most people associate ginseng with Asia and Asian medicine. However, did you know that there are several different types of ginseng growing in different parts of the world? One particular species is native to North America and apparently, Native Americans have been using this herb as medicine for thousands of years.

American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) is a herbaceous perennial plant. This herb is a very potent panacea. Unfortunately, due to its popularity, it has become an endangered species in the wild. As a result, people aren’t allowed to harvest it from the wild. Instead, they have to buy American ginseng supplements from herbal remedy stores or resort to cultivating the plant themselves.

Edibility and culinary use

American ginseng has an earthy and sweet flavor with a slightly bitter aftertaste. This herb tastes similar to its Asian counterpart but slightly sweeter. Both the roots and the leaves of this plant are edible. They’re usually brewed to make an energizing and healing herbal tea. This herbal tea has a unique taste which goes really well with honey and lemon. Other than that, the aromatic root can be candied to make a healthy snack.

You can also use ginseng to add some flavor to your cooking. If you have fresh American ginseng roots, try adding some small slices into gently simmering chicken broth or soup and let simmer for a couple of hours. Your chicken soup will taste amazing and become more nutritious. Alternatively, you can also used dried ginseng powder as a cooking spice for various recipes. American ginseng powder can really enhance the taste of white rice, soups, and stir-fry dishes.

Health benefits

American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) Harvested Roots
American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) Harvested Roots
(Photo by: John Carl Jacobs/Wikimedia Commons)

American ginseng has long been a part of Native American traditional medicine. Then in the 18th century, this potent herb was brought over to China to be cultivated and used to make medicine. American ginseng has similar health benefits to its Oriental counterpart. It’s rich in vitamins A, B6, and C as well as zinc and polysaccharide glycans.

As a supplement, American ginseng has the ability to boost your immunity, stimulates your metabolism, raises your energy level, improves your cognitive performances, as well as increases your stress resistance.

Aside from that, this panacea is often used to fight off other ailments as well. It works great against infections such as cold, flu, dysentery, and even HIV/AIDS-related infections. This herb can also stimulate the digestive system, treat digestive tract inflammation, increase appetite, and relieve nausea. Some people American ginseng to aid many other conditions such as anemia, diabetes, hypertension, nerve pain, erectile dysfunction, cancer-related fatigue, memory loss, menopause, and arthritis.

Cultivation

American ginseng once thrived in forests across the eastern US. however, due to popular demand, people over-harvested this amazing herb. As a result, the plant’s population plummeted. The plant is even an endangered species in several states. So, it may be difficult for you to find this plant in the wild. And even if you do find one, it’s illegal to harvest wild American ginseng in most states.

For that reason, you might have to rely on buying ginseng supplements online or from local herbal medicine stores. Or, if you’re up to the challenge, you can also try planting American ginseng at home. This plant species is rather difficult and time-consuming to grow, but with a green thumb, patience, and hard work, you’ll be able to cultivate it.

American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius)
American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius)
(Photo by: Halpaugh/Wikimedia Commons)

First, you need to get the seeds. You can learn the regulations for harvesting ginseng seeds in your state, but your best bet is to buy them from a reputable plant nursery. If possible, get stratified seeds because non-stratified ones can take up to 18 months to germinate. Then, select a well-shaded area with rich, moist soil. Clear out any weeds and plant the seeds 9” apart from each other. After that, cover the seeds with a layer of leaves or mulch to keep the ground moist. Note that ginseng seeds do best when sown in late fall or early winter.

Then, make sure to water plants regularly to keep them well-hydrated. You also need to thin the plants once or twice a year to avoid overcrowding. After that, you have to wait for at least 5 years for the plants to mature before you can harvest the roots. Before the five-year mark, the roots will be too small to be beneficial and you run the risk of killing your plants completely. When the plants are mature, you can harvest the roots every fall

Cautions

American ginseng should only be consumed in moderately small amounts. Consumption in high doses might result in adverse side effects, such as insomnia, headaches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and irritability.

Additionally, pregnant women should avoid American ginseng as it contains a compound that may cause birth defects. Nursing mothers are recommended to avoid this herb as well. This herb can lower blood sugar level too. So, avoid consumption if you’re hypoglycemic or diabetic. It’s also best to avoid this herb at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.

Conclusion

Consuming American ginseng may transform your life. This amazing herb will prevent and fight off numerous diseases while also making you more energized. With such great benefits, it’ll definitely be a wonderful addition to your diet. Since it’s illegal to forage this herb in most states, it’s better for you to buy dried American ginseng online or from a herbal medicine store. Or, if you’re good at gardening, why not take up the challenge of cultivating this panacea in your own backyard?


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Writen by Cornelia Tjandra
Cornelia is a freelance writer with a passion for bringing words to life and sharing useful information with the world. Her educational background in natural science and social issues has given her a broad base to approach various topics with ease. Learn more about her writing services on Upwork.com or contact her directly by email at cornelia.tjandra@gmail.com



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