About Ginseng

Characteristics of Ginseng

The earliest record on ginseng appears in a brief article written by Shi You during the Han Dynasty (48-33BC) . In the late Han Dynasty, the text “The Treatise on Febrile Diseases” authored by Zhang Zhong Jing (AD196-220) lists 113 prescriptions and ginseng was among the integral parts in 21 of them, thus indication the importance of this substance.

The growing condition for ginseng is very demanding. It must be located away from sunlight and in the dark shade. The location must be a cold and wet deciduous forest or on a slope. The moisture level must neither be high nor too low and the area must be covered with brown humus soil containing ashes. The soil must also be subjected to 2 years of nurturing (digging and exposing to sunlight, adding organic fertilizer) before ginseng cultivation can begin. The most preferred length of growing ginseng is 6 years. The cultivation process involves using seeds harvested from 4-year-old plants in July or August. The plants will be transplanted to another ginseng nursery after 2 years. Land used must be rested and planted with trees for at least the next 15 years before the land can be reused. Therefore, good quality ginseng is highly valuable and superior to any ordinary health food.

Ginseng originated from Huabai and Great Xingan mountain range of Mount Changbai in Dongbei, China. As the sources of wild ginseng are exhausted, those available on the market are almost entirely sourced from cultivated ginseng. The berries, flower, leaves, stalks and the various parts of the roots of ginseng, which account for its high value. Generally, cultivated ginseng must be 6 years old before its contents are saturated. During the first year, there will be one leaf stalk with 3 small leaves and rootlets on each plant. There will be 2-leaf stalks with 5 small leaves during the second year. For the subsequent third, fourth and fifth year, there will be three, four and five leaf stalks respectively. During the sixth year, there will only be 5-leaf stalks but each will have 5 leaves. Thereafter the number of leaf stalks and leaves will remain unchanged until it is harvested.

Origin of Ginseng

The authentic ginseng originated from Shangdang in Shanxi (southwest of Shanxi). It was harvested intensively since the Eastern Han Dynasty to the extent that by the Ming and Qing Dynasty to the extent that by the Ming and Qing Dynasty, the Shangdang ginseng (Also known as Dangsheng) had become extinct entirely. Therefore, the Dangsheng we known of today is no longer the ancient Shangdang ginseng. The appearance, shape and efficacy between the two differ.

The modern ginseng come from an area between 39-48degree north latitude and 117.5-143degree east longitude, where the Chinese Huabai and Mount Changbai of Dongbei and the Great and small Xingan range are located. It spans the provinces of Jilin, Liaoning, Heilongjiang as well as the North Korea Autonomous Regions. Ginseng is also produced in areas of the North and South Korea, Japan and Russia.

The prices differ greatly accordingly to the places of origin. In fact, from the botanical perspective, the fundamental elements of ginseng produced from various areas are mostly similar and only differ in terms of the processing and packaging methods and the external appearance.

Types of Ginseng

Based on the region of production, ginseng can be categorized into the Mainland ginseng, Korean ginseng, Japanese ginseng, Russian ginseng and Western ginseng. Morphologically it can be categorized into red and white ginseng. Based on the growing environment, it can be categorized into wild, transplanted and cultivated ginseng. In terms of grading, ginseng is graded according to 4 standards of grading in Korea, i.e “Tian”, “Di”, “Liang”, and “Qie” (literally meaning “heaven”, “earth”, “good” and “cut”).

Red ginseng is generally classified into Jilin red ginseng (Biantiao ginseng, which has long rootlets), Korean red ginseng and Japanese red ginseng. The usual processing method is to snip off the rootlets or whiskers from the fresh ginseng, brush clean and steam in high temperature of 128degree Celsius for approximately 3 hours until the ginseng root turns yellow and its skin appears translucent. It is then dried or sun-dried. The whole process completes in approximately 12 days. However, the nature of this kind of ginseng is highly nutritious yet very “Heaty”.

White ginseng is generally divided into several categories namely wild mountain ginseng, da-li ginseng, yi-shan ginseng, pi-wei ginseng, etc.

Key Components of Panax Ginseng

  • Saponin (30 types)
  • Germanium (Contains 4189ppm per 100gm, which is 5 times higher than Lingzi, 20 times than garlic and Dong Guai, 55 Times than Aloe Vera)
  • Ginseng Polysaccharide (9 types)
  • Oil-over(20 types)
  • Magnesium & Potassium
  • Amino acids (16 types)
  • Vitamins (B12, folic acid, nicotine acid, pantothenic acid, biotin, nictylamide)