American Ginseng

Latin:  Panax quinquefolium

Family:  Araliaceae

Parts Used:  Roots 

Taste/Energetics:   Sweet, slightly bitter, cooling

Properties:  Tonic, adaptogenic, anxiolytic, mild stimulant, anti-spasmodic, analgesic, antiviral, anti-tumoral

Actions: This is one of the premier adaptogens to take but unfortunately it has been severely over harvested and has become endangered in the wild.  There are a few reputable vendors of organically grown American Ginseng and the herb should only be purchased in this way.  Though most adaptogens are warming, American Ginseng is slightly cooling and therefore is best for those who are in need of deep sustenance but appear exhausted and depressed as well overheated, ruddy and toxic from stress, drugs, alcohol and bad food.

American Ginseng will slowly restore good health, immune strength, a calm nervous system and a stronger libido.

In Chinese medicine American Ginseng is used primarily for lung and kidney yin deficiency.  Lung yin deficiency appears in people who develop dry coughs, low grade fevers at night and a hoarse voice.  Kidney yin deficiency is quite common in the modern world with symptoms of dry hair, exhaustion, lack of libido, lower back pain, insomnia, brittle joints and a sense of frailty and diminished reserves.

Essentially American Ginseng is helpful for those who are burning up their “essence” and appear old too quickly.  The kidneys are associated with the emotion of fear in Chinese medicine but that is not quite the right word here.  American Ginseng is more helpful for those who feel unsure, who are lacking in a sense of willpower, surety, and tend towards chasing quick pleasures to sustain them, which end up making themselves feel worse and used up.


Generally I will decoct a nice root (about 5-10 grams) for 20 minutes in a pint of water until it is soft and then try and cut it into slices so more surface area is available.  Then I will place the slices back in the water and decoct it for another 20-30 minutes.   As powder 1-2 grams per day.  As tincture  1-3 ml to 2x/day.

Contraindications:  Do not use with blood thinners