Currently, the ginseng industry is the largest field-grown horticultural export crop in Canada, and its uses are vast and more common than you might think! Ginseng may be hiding in your favourite beauty elixir or that energy drink found at a gas station. Given just how fascinating a root ginseng is, we’ve compiled a quick guide to understanding ginseng.
What is Ginseng?
Canadian ginseng (also known as Panax quinquefolius) grows slowly, taking approximately three to five years to reach maturity. Light-coloured roots grow from a single stalk, with long oval leaves and red berries. The entire plant is captivating, but the true medicinal value lies in the roots.
Ginseng contains an active compound called ginsenosides, and they have some incredibly powerful health benefits for your brain, body, and spirit.
What are the different types of Ginseng?
Ginseng actually refers to 11 different varieties of a short, slow-growing plant with fleshy roots. The main ones we know, and use are Korean or Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng), and Canadian ginseng (Panax quinquefolius).
What Are the Benefits of Consuming Ginseng?
Indigenous and Chinese cultures have long praised Canadian ginseng as the miracle “man-root,” due to its man-like shape and belief that it is beneficial for every part of a human.
Throughout history, this miracle root has been highly regarded for its holistic health benefits, including:
When people are feeling stressed and anxious, ginseng may help to induce a calming effect on brain function and the body.
Ginseng may improve thinking processes and cognition. A series of studies have concluded that adults of any age who take ginseng extract have better memory, improved learning, nerve cell protection, and promotion of nerve cell growth.
The benefits of Canadian ginseng have been recognized for centuries. Research shows that it has medicinal potential in a variety of body systems and disorders, including supporting the immune response, which helps fight infections.
To learn more about each specific benefit and the scientific research on each, check out our Health Benefits FAQ.
Do All Ginseng Products Carry the Same Benefits?
If you have tried ginseng and seen no results, it’s possible that you’re taking a low-quality ginseng supplement in too small doses.
But isn’t all ginseng created equal? In short, no.
If you’re going to take ginseng, do your research to ensure you’re getting it from a reputable manufacturer rather than just grabbing the first bottle you see. Often, many energy drinks containing ginseng in gas stations contain low-quality ginseng and are loaded with caffeine — neither of which do anything for your body.
Today, most of the world’s Canadian ginseng supply is sourced from Ontario’s fertile soil, where individual farmers grow ginseng under thick black shades reminiscent of a forest canopy.
Where Can I Buy Canadian Ginseng?
Ontario is one of the world’s leading suppliers of safe, high-quality ginseng. Look for the “Running Root” logo on consumer products. This ensures the product is grown in native Ontario soil and is 100% Canadian ginseng (Panax quinquefolius). A list of our ginseng retailers and certified sellers, both online and local, can be found here.
At the Ontario Ginseng Growers Association (OGGA), we’re passionate about educating consumers about high-quality, North American ginseng. Visit our website to learn more about this amazing plant—including some recipe ideas for adding ginseng into your daily routine!—or reach out to learn more about how you can get involved.