Panax ginseng, more commonly known as ginseng, is a perennial plant indigenous to many regions of East Asia. North American ginseng, also most commonly referred to simply as ginseng, is indigenous to North America, but is also grown domestically in China.
These two plants have been used as ingredients in traditional medicines for millennia by both ancient Chinese and by Native Americans. Today, ginseng is recognized the world over for its many health benefits as a dietary supplement and as a topical ingredient.
History of Ginseng Cultivation
The history of ginseng cultivation is really a story of two cultures: North American and Siberian. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has sought out ginseng for thousands of years due to its many uses in the diet, as a medicine, and as a topical. Native Americans also used ginseng for medical purposes as it grew abundantly. It was not until the 1700s that the Western world truly began seeing botanical supplements such as ginseng as marketable.
Ginseng is now widely cultivated all over the world. Ginseng farmers generally fall into one of four categories:
- Wild ginseng collectors: This type of collection is heavily regulated to protect natural ginseng populations.
- Wild-simulated ginseng growers: a type of farming in which ginseng plants are grown in a “simulated” wild environment.
- Woods cultivated ginseng growers: farms which are located in “natural” locations.
- Cultivated ginseng growers: ginseng grown using modern farming methods.
Wild Ginseng vs. Domesticated Ginseng
Wild and domesticated ginseng plants are quite different — resulting in two distinct end products. According to American Ginseng Pharm, China is now the world’s leading producer of domesticated ginseng.
Wild ginseng roots show visible growth rings, longer roots, and have a more striking color. They also have a greater variance in appearance, extending in all different directions as they naturally grow. Wild ginseng roots are smaller and more nutrient rich.
Cultivated ginseng roots are lighter in color, but larger in size. They have a more uniform appearance with fewer visible growth rings. Wild-simulated ginseng often falls in between these two categories, with growers trying to emulate the natural environment and growth patterns of wild ginseng as much as possible.
Ginseng as a Dietary Supplement
TCM has long held ginseng as one of its most treasured ingredients. Both the Asian and North American variants of ginseng have a multitude of health benefits when incorporated into the diet. Some of these benefits include:
- Anti-inflammatory properties: Scientific research as reported by healthline.com has shown that ginseng offers both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects when eaten. Asian ginseng in particular has been shown to reduce inflammation in skin cells affected by eczema.
- Promoting brain health: North American ginseng has been shown to improve brain function in a study conducted on 30 healthy people. There is also some evidence to suggest that ginseng may help to alleviate some of the complications of Alzheimer's disease.
- Increases blood flow: Evidence points to ginseng in the diet being a natural way to increase blood flow. By extension, Asian ginseng has been promoted as an alternative method of correcting erectile dysfunction.
- Much more: Healthline also reports that ginseng in the diet may lower blood sugar, boost energy, and lessen the risk of some forms of cancer, all without the nasty side effects of traditional medication.
Ginseng for Skin Health in Traditional Chinese Medicine
Herbalists and TCM practitioners may also use ginseng as an ingredient in topical skincare formulas. Ginseng is a natural, yet potent ingredient which can have a multitude of positive impacts on the health and beauty of your skin.
The anti-inflammatory properties of ginseng may promote healthier blood flow to the capillaries found within the skin. More blood flow means improvement in delivery of oxygen and nutrients to skin, resulting in brighter, healthier skin with boosted collagen production.
Antioxidants found within ginseng have also been shown to fight against free radicals. Free radicals are naturally occurring, but can be worsened by factors including sun damage, pollution, and other irritants. Our body fights free radicals by producing antioxidants, but only in limited supply. Ginseng may boost your skin’s ability to suppress free radicals, resulting in youthful, glowing skin.
Ginseng may also utilize its natural energizing properties to liven up the appearance of skin. Finally, ginseng has been shown to regulate the body’s production of oil, leading to skin which is moisturized, but not overly oily.
Herbalist and Dermatologist Dr. Wang Harnesses the power of Ginseng
At Dr. Wang Herbal Skincare, we use our extensive experience to offer affordable, high-end skincare products for spa and at-home use. For over 20 years, the father-son team of Steven Wang, MD and Gui Wang, LAc have been working together to develop holistic solutions to common skin health issues. We have used our experience and our knowledge to produce our Radiance Facial Oil with ginseng & licorice root. By combining the power of ginseng with a host of other natural ingredients, we believe our facial oil offers a hydrating antioxidant boost to any skincare regimen.