Skip to Content


« Back to Glossary Index

**History and Cultivation**:
Ginseng mentioned in Shen Nong Pharmacopoeia in 196 AD
– Li Shizhen described ginseng as a tonic in 1596
– Control over ginseng fields in China and Korea in 16th century
Ginseng found in cooler climates like Korean Peninsula and Canada
– Panax vietnamensis is the southernmost known species
– Wild ginseng grows naturally in mountains
– Wild American ginseng used by Native Americans
– Cultivated ginseng is less expensive than wild ginseng
– Cultivated ginseng planted on mountains by humans
Ginseng seed does not germinate until the second spring
– Cultivated ginseng requires stratification process

**Production and Global Sales**:
– Global sales of ginseng exceeded $2 billion in 2013
– China is the largest consumer of commercial ginseng
– Majority of ginseng produced in China, South Korea, Canada, and the US
– South Korea produces Korean ginseng, while China produces P. ginseng and P. notoginseng
– Canada and the US produce mostly American ginseng

**Uses and Consumption**:
Ginseng included in energy drinks and herbal teas
Ginseng used in Korean cuisine in banchan and guk
– Ginseng-infused tea and liquor consumed
Ginseng leaves used in preparing Asian soups and beverages
– No conclusive modern research on ginseng’s biological effects

**Safety, Side Effects, and Overdose**:
Ginseng supplements lack pre-market FDA approval like pharmaceutical drugs
– Discrepancies between labeled ingredients and actual components are common
– Generally, ginseng has a good safety profile, but long-term use may lead to adverse effects
– Symptoms of mild overdose include dry mouth, irritability, and increased body temperature
– Severe overdose symptoms may include seizures, convulsions, and delirium
– Acute overdose of ginseng can lead to bleeding

**Terminology, Etymology, and Miscellaneous**:
– The word ‘ginseng’ originates from the Teochew Chinese term ‘jîn-sim’
– The English word ‘ginseng’ comes from the Teochew Chinese ‘jîn-sim’
– The Korean term ‘insam’ refers to cultivated ginseng
– Various Chinese names for ginseng denote its characteristics and types
– Concerns exist regarding ginseng’s interactions with certain medications
– Reports of adverse effects like skin rashes and headaches are associated with ginseng use
– Lack of data exists on the safety and efficacy of ginseng in lactating mothers and infants

Ginseng (Wikipedia)

Ginseng (/ˈɪnsɛŋ/) is the root of plants in the genus Panax, such as Korean ginseng (P. ginseng), South China ginseng (P. notoginseng), and American ginseng (P. quinquefolius), characterized by the presence of ginsenosides and gintonin. Ginseng is common in the cuisines and medicines of China and Korea.

A root of cultivated Korean ginseng (Panax ginseng)

Ginseng has been used in traditional medicine over centuries, though modern clinical research is inconclusive about its medical effectiveness. There is no substantial evidence that ginseng is effective for treating any medical condition and it has not been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat or prevent a disease or to provide a health benefit. Although ginseng is sold as a dietary supplement, inconsistent manufacturing practices for supplements have led to analyses of some ginseng products contaminated with toxic metals or unrelated filler compounds, and its excessive use may have adverse effects or untoward interactions with prescription drugs.

« Back to Glossary Index