American ginseng (Panax quinquefolium)
Differences between Asian ginseng, Siberian ginseng and American ginseng
American ginseng (Panax quinquefolium) is a type of ginseng. As its name suggests, it grows in certain regions of America, particularly in the eastern U.S. and Canada. It is a perennial plant about 50 cm high. It presents erect stems devoid of leaves except at the apex wherefrom 4 or 5 compound leaves grow, usually with 5 leaflets, the three inside much longer than those outside. From the stem apex small greenish-white flowers arise. They are gathered in inflorescence. The fruits are bright red. The root is thick and, when adult, it has many ramifications. It belongs to the Araliaceae family such as Korean ginseng (Panax ginseng) and Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus).
Like the rest of ginsengs, it needs lots of shade, adequate moisture, with no water retention that could rot the plant, and a loamy soil rich in organic matter. These conditions determine the plant to grow under the trees of forests. It prefers cool climates in winter to ensure the seed germination, and not too hot temperature in summer. When artificially grown, it must be generally supplied with an artificial shade
Traditionally it has been used by native Americans as a medicinal herb to cure many ailments (stomach problems, pains, fever, etc.). Its properties are similar to those of Siberian ginseng and Korean ginseng, being the least potent of the three. Currently, most production is exported to China, where it is often blended with Korean ginseng or other herbs. This trade with China really began in the eighteenth century when the Jesuits traded the Canadian product to China.
Although it is a plant that can be found more easily than the Korean or Siberian ginseng, it is widely extinguished in some places. The wild samples are the best paid and most valued, but because of the widespread demand, it is a plant cultivated in both North America and elsewhere in the world.
Medicinal properties of American ginseng
- American ginseng provides energy to the body. It can be used to endure physical or mental efforts better, such as when someone recovers from an illness, breaks a convalescence, endures a hard exam, and so on. However, it is less stimulating than Korean ginseng, since it does not contain Rb2, or Rg 1.4. It contains a more amount of ginsenosides from RB1 group which provides more marked sedative properties.
- American ginseng to combat stress: American ginseng is also capable of neutralizing the negative effects of stress or improve symptoms of depression.
- American ginseng increases immunity: By means of increasing the production of lymphocytes, American ginseng makes the body more resistant to the attack of viruses or bacteria. It has been used to treat influenza, or respiratory tract diseases.
- American ginseng increases mental ability: It allows greater concentration, better memory and easier learning
- American ginseng Improves circulation, lowers cholesterol and regulates blood sugar in the blood of non-insulin-dependent diabetics. Like Asian ginseng, American ginseng improves the overall condition of the body producing a cholesterol lowering, enhances blood circulation and stabilizes the level of insulin in the blood. It has also been proved to be able to stabilize blood pressure levels, making it useful both in cases of hypertension and hypotension.
- American ginseng to treat digestive diseases: It eases digestion, increases appetite and prevents vomiting.
How to take American ginseng?
- Take a couple of glasses a day of cold infusion of two teaspoons of dried plant per cup of water for 45 minutes
- Half a tablespoon of prepared root powder per cup of water. Take two cups a day.
- Take some tincture or American ginseng extract under the terms of the patient information leaflet. You can buy it in pharmacies or herbalists’.
Contraindications, toxicity and precautions of American ginseng
American ginseng does not generally present as many problems as Korean ginseng, although you should not exceed the tolerated doses or take it continuously for too long
American ginseng is not suitable for pregnant or nursing women, or young children.
It can interfere with prescribed medication for hypertension, heart disease or antidepressants.
More information about other ginseng species.
6 October, 2021