Information about the herb American Ginseng

Panax quinquefolium, also known as Five-fingers is part of the Araliaceae plant family. It was once found growing wild in eastern North America. It was first cultivated in the United States in the late 1800’s. 

General Information

Various forms of Ginseng have been used in medicine for more than 7000 years. Several species grow around the world, and though some are preferred for specific benefits, all are considered to have similar properties as an effective general rejuvenator. The roots can live for over 100 years. American and Asian Ginsengs belong to the species Panax and are similar in their chemical composition.

Botanical Name: Panax quinquefolium

Plant Family: Araliaceae

Common name: American Ginseng, Five-fingers, Five-leafed Ginseng, Redberry

History: The name panax is derived from the Greek word panacea meaning, ‘all healing’.

Tradition: Native American Indians regarded it as one of their most sacred herbs and several tribes used it as an ingredient in:

  • charms
  • love potions

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Plant Constituents of American Ginseng


  • Saponin triterpenoid glycosides called “ginsenosides” (more than 25) appear to act on the adrenal glands, enabling Ginseng to balance and counter the effects of stress
  • polysaccharide glycans
  • quinquefolans A, B, and C
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin B6
  • Zinc 


Ginseng is used both as a preventative and a cure

  • adaptogen [a substance that strengthens the body, helping it return to normal when it has been subjected to stress]
  • aphrodisiac [an agent for arousing or increasing sexual desire or potency]
  • demulcent [a substance that soothes inflamed mucous membranes and protects them from irritation]
  • panacea [cure-all]
  • stimulant [an agent that excites or quickens the functional activity of the tissues giving more energy]
  • stomachic [an agent that strengthens, stimulates or tones the stomach]

Although Asian and American Ginseng do have similar properties and uses there are some differences.  

  • American Ginseng possesses “cooling” property to the body
  • Asian Ginseng  is “warming”, therefore people with a “warming” body should only take American Ginseng which is “cooling”. People with a “cooling” body should only take Asian Ginseng which is “warming” otherwise contradictions exist, particularly for people with high blood pressure. American Ginseng has a more soothing effect, Asian Ginseng a more stimulating effect.

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Usage of American Ginseng

Medicinal Parts Used: Whole root

American Ginseng is used for:

Brain and Nervous System Conditions

  • influences neurological reactions
  • may slow the progression of Alzheimer’s Disease
  • stimulates the central nervous system
  • boosts energy levels
  • depression
  • enhances and restores memory
  • enhances concentration and cognitive abilities which may be impaired by improper blood supply to the brain
  • increases protein synthesis and activity of neurotransmitters in the brain
  • insomnia
  • reduces the effects of stress
  • removes both mental and bodily fatigue

Cardiovascular Conditions

  • improves overall cardiovascular activity
  • decreases triglyceride levels
  • dissolves tumors
  • improves performance
  • may decrease endothelial cell dysfunction (which can cause blockage of blood flow leading to heart attack or stroke)
  • may raise HDL (the good cholesterol), while reducing total cholesterol levels
  • quiets down the blood vessels
  • relieves pulmonary complaints

Female Conditions

  • improves sexual function
  • increases estrogen levels in women
  • menopausal symptoms

Gastrointestinal Conditions

  • stimulates the appetite

Glandular Conditions

  • benefits the endocrine system, especially the pituitary and adrenals
  • increases natural killer cell activity
  • prevents adrenal hypertrophy

Immune System Conditions

  • aids in the production of thymic hormones, necessary for correct functioning of the immune system
  • stimulates the immune system

Liver Conditions

  • reduces total cholesterol level
  • relieves nausea and vomiting

Male Conditions

  • improves sexual function
  • may increase sperm count as well as motility
  • reduces impotence
  • stimulates the gonads

Respiratory Tract Conditions

  • colds
  • chest problems

Other Conditions

  • diabetes (appears to lower blood sugar [glucose] levels in Type 2 diabetes)
  • insulin-like activity
  • maintains excellent body functions
  • may reduce one’s chances of getting various types of cancer, in particular:
  • lung
  • liver
  • stomach
  • pancreatic
  • ovarian
  • prevents excess corticosteroid production in response to physical, chemical or biological stress
  • radiation and chemotherapy protection
  • recovering from illness or surgery, especially for the elderly
  • reduces the effects of aging
  • stimulates the production of interferons

Ginseng, whether it comes from Asia or America is for people who have: 

chronic fever
excess craving
excess hunger
hot flushes


  • Dried root: 500-2000 mg daily (250 mg capsules).
  • Tea/infusion: Pour 1 cup boiling water over 1 tsp finely chopped Ginseng root. Steep for 5-10 minutes (1-3/daily for 3-4 weeks.
  • Tincture (1:5): 1-2 teaspoons daily
  • Liquid extract (1:1): ¼-½ teaspoon daily
  • Standardized solid extract (4% total ginsenosides): 100 mg twice daily
  • Standardized liquid extract (4% total ginsenosides):

For help recovering from an illness, the elderly should take 500 mg 2/day for 3 months or 500 mg 2/day for 1 month followed by a break of 2 months. by a two-month break.

For healthy individuals wishing to increase physical or mental performance, prevent illness or to improve resistance to stress, Ginseng should be taken in one of the above dosages for 2-3 weeks followed by a break of 2 weeks.

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  • This herb is not recommended for use in children because of its stimulant properties

American Ginseng is a stimulant and taken at high doses may cause:

  • nervousness
  • sleeplessness

Other side effects include:

  • anxiety
  • breast pain
  • diarrhea
  • euphoria
  • headache
  • high blood pressure
  • insomnia
  • nosebleed
  • restlessness
  • vomiting
  • vaginal bleeding

American Ginseng:

  • should be discontinued at least 7 days prior to surgery as Ginseng:
  • can lower blood glucose levels which could create problems for patients fasting prior to surgery
  • may act as a blood thinner increasing the risk of bleeding during or after surgery
  • should not be used during pregnancy or when breast feeding
  • should be taken with food to avoid hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) even in non-diabetics

Drug Interactions

Do not use Ginseng without first talking to your practitioner or healthcare provider if you taking any of the following medications:

Blood Thinning Medications

  • aspirin (Ginseng may inhibit platelet activity)
  • warfarin (Ginseng may decrease effectiveness)

Caffeine or other substances that stimulate the central nervous system

Ginseng may increase their effects possibly causing:

  • irregular heartbeat
  • insomnia
  • nervousness
  • sweating

Haloperidol (anti-psychotic medication)

  • Ginseng may exaggerate the effects so do not take them together


  • Ginseng may block the pain killing effects of morphine.

Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors MAOIs (antidepressant medication) especially:

  • Phenelzine – Interaction with Ginseng may cause symptoms such as:
  • headaches
  • manic-like episodes
  • tremulousness

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Global Herbal Supplies has American Ginseng available in the following forms:

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