Siberian Ginseng vs American Ginseng vs Red Ginseng

When you hear the word ginseng, you may simply picture a straggly lumpy yellow root, or you may picture nothing at all! But we’re pretty sure you’ve at least heard of ginseng, and its miraculous mental properties. Yet ginseng is a tough supplement to figure out. There are many kinds of ginseng, and even so-called ‘experts’ get them confused. So we wanted to untangle the web of confusion and set the story straight.

Korean, Chinese or Asian ginseng

Korean, Chinese or Asian ginseng is the most famous member of the ginseng family. Its scientific name is Panax ginseng, which when literally translated to English means “all-healing root in the shape of a man”. Korean ginseng is actually the root of the Panax ginseng plant, which bears yellow or red berries and it is mainly cultivated in Korea, China, the US and Canada. Korean ginseng is used to treat many illnesses, yet it is most known as an adaptogen, a natural substance that helps the body deal with stress, or it is used to improve thinking and concentration, increase memory retention and boost physical and mental stamina. The secret ingredient in korean ginseng is ginsenosides or panaxosides and the ideal dose of korean ginseng is 300 to 400 mg daily. When consuming korean ginseng, you can take it raw and eaten as is, sliced into small pieces, or lightly steamed with a little bit of honey. This is perhaps the most efficient way of consuming korean ginseng, as you’re assured to consume the all-important chemical constituents. You can also buy powdered ginseng and take it as a capsule or drink ginseng tea.

American ginseng

American ginseng, whose scientific name is Panax quinquefollius, is native to eastern North America and historically was used by Native Americans to treat headaches, fever, indigestion, and infertility. It is currently commercially produced in certain parts of Canada and the US, although it is also consumed in China. American ginseng is similar to Korean ginseng, in that it also contains ginsenosides, however it contains different kinds of ginsenosides and in different amounts. Korean ginseng contains more ginsenosides overall, and is known to be more potent and energizing than American ginseng. And while American ginseng is also used as an adaptogen, it is mainly touted for its ability to improve immune function and ease digestion while nervous. One natural medicine scholar describes the difference by stating that Korean ginseng has more Yang properties, while American has more Yin. Now it’s important to note that American ginseng is not as well known or studied as Korean ginseng, so even though it is often called the ‘weaker’ ginseng, who knows what future research may reveal about the possible benefits of American ginseng.

Siberian ginseng

Now Siberian ginseng on the other hand is actually in a completely different plant family! Its scientific name is Eletherococcus senticosus and it is native to northeast Asia. It has been consumed in China and Russia for quite a long while, although it only recently became more popular during the rule of the Soviet Union. While it is known to produce similar effects as Korean ginseng, it technically isn’t ginseng at all and in fact in the US it is illegal to call it so. (It is thought that it was given the name ginseng only because it provides similar effects as Korean and American ginseng). Its main chemical constituents are ciwujianoside and eletherosides and it is mainly used as an adaptogen, to strengthen the immune system and to boost mental performance. However, one key difference is that it isn’t a stimulant and it must be taken for regularly for a long time before results are noticed.