American ginseng

American ginseng

American ginseng, Panax quinquefolius, is an adaptogenic herb used to normalize immune function, support adrenal glands and soothe an overly stressed nervous system. It is also good for metabolic syndrome, jet lag symptoms, low stomach acid, and enhancing male sexual performance.




Sang, seng


Root (sometimes, leaves)


Native to eastern North America.


American ginseng is a herbaceous perennial adapted to cool, temperate climates.

Height: 30-60 cm (12-24 in)
Width: 30 cm (12 in)
Roots: light yellowish to white
Flowers: small, greenish white
Leaves: 5 ovate leaflets (the three middle ones are much larger than the 2 basal ones)
Blooms: in spring from the third year on
Fruits: bright red with 2 seeds, late summer


American ginseng grows under the canopy of hardwood forests of eastern North America. Avoid planting it directly under conifers and shallow rooted trees to avoid competition for nutrients. For best results, plant American ginseng under deep-rooted trees such as oak. Use much to prevent the top soil from drying out.

Hardiness: USDA Zones 3 to 8
Propagation: seeds
Germination: 18-20 months. Stratification is necessary. It normally takes two springs after seed collection in fall for germination to occur.
Spacing: 30 cm (12 in)
Soil: moist and well-drained, loamy, rich in organic matter
pH: 5.5
Exposure: shade
Pests: rodents, fungal diseases, weeds, grubs, wireworms, slugs
Garden Design: American ginseng is a wonderful addition to woodland gardens and to shady areas under hardwood trees.
Companion planting: Grow American ginseng with plants common in its natural habitat such as walnut, poplar, oak, basswood as well as dong quai (Angelica sinensis), and five flavored fruit (Schisandra chinensis)


In fall after 4 years of cultivation. For larger roots, wait until the berries are fully ripe. Be careful not to damage the roots while harvesting.


Roots must be air-dried for storage. A small fan is a good tool to dry the roots. Alternatively,you can use a dehydrator set no warmer than 35 Celsius (95 F) to dry the roots. If the temperature is too high, the roots will dry too fast and become dark in color. They are dry enough for storage when they break with a snap. Store them in a cardboard or paper bag. Storing them in plastic bags may encourage mold development.


Triterpene saponins (ginsenosides), sesquiterpene


Adaptogen, antioxidant, demulcent, immunomodulatory, tonic, mild central nervous system stimulant, digestive bitter, sexual tonic


Cool, moist


Sweet, bitter


American ginseng is a wonderful adaptogenic herb used to normalize immune function. It can bolster a weakened immune system as well as reduce excessive immune response in case of allergies and autoimmune conditions. It is also good for mild to moderate adrenal depletion, overly stressed nervous systems, metabolic syndrome, jet lag symptoms, low stomach acid, and enhancing male sexual performance.

Used internally for:

  • mild adrenal fatigue
  • weak immune system
  • overly stressed nervous system
  • metabolic syndrome
  • jet lag symptoms
  • improving sexual performance
  • stimulating the production of digestive juices

Recommended daily dosage:

Tincture: (1:5): 60-100 drops, 3 times per day
Decoction: Slowly decoct 1-2 tsp of dried root for half an hour. Let steep for an additional hour. Take up to two cups per day

  • tincture
  • decoction
  • powder

High doses of American ginseng can interfere with the blood thinning medication warfarin. Use small amounts of American ginseng if taking warfarin.


Winston, D. Maimes, S. 2007. Adaptogens: Herbs for strength, stamina, and stress relief. Rochester: Healing Arts Press
Khalsa, K. Tierra, Michael. 2008. The way of Ayurvedic herbs. Twin Lakes: Lotus Press
Werner, M. Von Braunschweig, R. 2005. Praxis Aromatherapie. 5th edition. Stuttgart: Haug
Ginseng – A production guide for North Carolina,