AMERICAN GINSENG ROOT (Panax quinquefolium )

Latin: Panax quinquefolium
Chinese: Xi yang shen

WHAT IT DOES: American ginseng root is sweet and slightly bitter in taste, and cooling in action.  It is an adaptogenic (balancing) tonic that nourishes, moistens and cools the body; strengthens the lungs; reduces weakness and fatigue; and strengthens and calms the nervous system.


SAFETY ISSUES: None known. Use cautiously with nausea and weak digestion.

• Dried powder: three to six grams per day
• 4:1 concentrated dried decoction extract: one to two grams per day
• 1:5 tincture: 30-60 drops 2 times per day

TCM doctors use American ginseng root as a Yin tonic and a Qi tonic.  To see the benefits for yourself, use it after you’ve endured a severely weakening bout of fever or food poisoning, followed by signs of irritability and heat.  It will greatly speed your recovery time.  Though not as immediately energizing as Chinese ginseng root, American ginseng root gradually strengthens neurological force, and is effective in slowly fighting off chronic fatigue, colds, coughs and bronchitis.  In our clinic we frequently add it to formulas where the patient has signs of fatigue and dryness in addition to their primary problem.  I’ve noticed it often seems to strengthen the effects of other herbs.  Perhaps this is due to the herb’s numerous effects on the gut and the brain.  Some scientists discount differences between Chinese and American ginseng root, noting they differ little in the lab.  It is clear, however, that both are strongly tonic.

Research findings

• Animal studies show that component found in American ginseng root facilitates the uptake of choline into nerve endings, which suggests benefit for memory deficits (Salim, 1997).  It also alters brain chemistry in a way that may improve sexual performance in animals (Murphy et al., 1998).

• Pharmacological studies done in China on animals have shown heart strengthening (cardiotonic) benefits of American ginseng root, as well as a calming effect on the cerebral cortex of the brain while simultaneously stimulating the central nervous system