How Many Kinds of Ginseng Are There?

Ginseng is the most famous herb in the world, renowned for it's adaptogenic, energy enhancing properties. f course, there are huge differences in quality between cheaply grown ginseng and high quality ginseng that has been left in the ground for at least 6 years before harvesting. This is the point at which it actually becomes a powerful adaptogen rather than the prematurely harvested stimulant found in sugary mainstream energy drinks. Before 6 years in the ground, ginseng is simply not an adaptogen!

 

But what about all the other things referred to as "Ginseng," like Siberian Ginseng, American Ginseng, Southern Ginseng, Prince Ginseng, and more? Are these really ginseng? How do they work and are they worth using?

 

TRANSCRIPT:
- Hi, I'm Sage. Welcome back to the Addictive Wellness Channel. Today we're gonna be talking about the most famous herb in the world, ginseng. Not just ginseng, but all its other friends and family and other herbs that masquerade as ginseng. And in a minute you'll understand what I mean by that. There's so many herbs that are compared to ginseng and described as being ginseng-like because it's the most famous herb in the world. So if you say something is like ginseng, or the ginseng of its region, people tend to automatically already have sort of a concept of what you're trying to say. For example, there's an herb out there called the Ayurvedic ginseng or the Indian ginseng. There's an herb called the seven-leaf ginseng. There's an herb called the Thai ginseng. None of those are actually ginseng, but they have ginseng-like properties and we'll be talking about those in just a minute.

 

But let's go back to the beginning to what really is the original ginseng and this is Panax ginseng. This is coming from Asia of course, China and Korea in terms of the exact geography and there's a couple different varieties. There is red ginseng, there's white ginseng, there's wild ginseng and cultivated ginseng. Now of course wild is the most highly prized. This is ginseng that has the genetic robustness to survive out there, deal with predators, deal with pests, all kinds of bugs, or even larger animals that might wanna eat it and it's able to ward them off and in doing so produces saponins like ginsenosides that are the active compounds that we're really after with ginseng. But, that is really something that's so highly priced that is hard for normal folks to afford and so we usually end up seeing cultivated ginseng.

 

Now white ginseng is white because it's been peeled. And this is a ginseng that is not so fiery as other ginsengs. It's less intense as compared to red ginseng which you leave the skin on and then its processed with high heat that actually turns the skin red. And you see this for example with North Korean red ginseng which as you can imagine coming from North Korea, it's pretty hard to find here in the U.S.. And this is a special kind of red ginseng, there's actually a secret process that goes into making it that is not revealed. It's very closely guarded and this involves processing it with other young, fiery, very hot herbs, not hot as in spicy hot, but hot as in their energy. And this generally is gonna increase the potency of the North Korean red ginseng. It's very intense, very fiery and most of what is sold elsewhere in the world, especially in the U.S. is actually fake because you're not gonna get a whole lotta North Korean products here in the U.S. as you can imagine. So, that is the original real ginseng.

 

Now there's also another kind of ginseng that botanically speaking is ginseng and this is American ginseng. This was discovered by Europeans in the 1700s, but of course had in fact been used by many Native American tribes for hundreds and hundreds of years. And Thomas Jefferson in fact was a farmer of American ginseng. This is a much more yin, cooling ginseng than Panax ginseng, the ginseng coming from Asia. It's a big difference in terms of their effect. The Asian ginseng, much more fiery, much more intense. American ginseng, much gentler, much more cooling, almost has like calming, what you would call a yin effect to it and as such it's great for helping to replenish the body's fluids. Yin is all about restoring and replenishing. So those are the two real ginsengs. That's it. Anything else that you hear about being called ginseng, it's not really ginseng. But it can still have some amazing properties.

 

So one example, again, we're gonna stay in China for this next example. This is called the seven-leaf ginseng or also known as southern ginseng or ginseng for a tea price. Now this is gynostemma. It's a leafy plant and we've done another video all about this. It's a herbaceous vine basically and so I'm not gonna go too deep into it because we do have another video all about it, but you can find it on our channel. But this is actually one of the greatest adaptogenic herbs in the entire world. Great for improving energy production, but also helping you not be too stressed. It helps to burn fat, build lean muscle, and it also helps to regulate blood sugar and it's just overall one of the healthiest, balancing, gentle yet very effective herbs that there is and it can be made into a really delicious tea and uses the base for so many different tonics. So that's a great herb. And the reason it's compared to ginseng is because it contains compounds called gypenosides which are very similar to the ginsenosides, these saponins that you find in ginseng and so it has a very similar dual directional effect. It actually has way more saponins in it than ginseng does in terms of the variety of these different saponins. So it's an incredible herb to familiarize yourself with and incorporate and to try out for yourself.

 

Now, let's go to the other side of the Himalayas and we're gonna talk about what's known as the Ayurvedic ginseng or Indian ginseng and this is ashwagandha. Ashwagandha is becoming more and more well known which is fantastic because it has such a wide array of benefits. It helps to support healthy thyroid function which is great because millions and millions of people these days are dealing with an underactive thyroid, with hypothyroidism, it's pretty much an epidemic in the modern world. And there's a whole variety of things that can contribute to that. Again, we have another video on thyroid support so we won't go too deep off into that rabbit hole, but, I'll let you guys check out that video. And then ashwagandha also improves energy, helps deal with stress, it's great for hormone support. So it's working in so many ways to support different bodily functions.

 

Then we go over to Thailand. Here is where we find what they call Thai ginseng. Again, not a botanical relative of ginseng technically speaking, but this is black ginger, it's actually a part of the ginger family. And within the ginger family you also find turmeric interestingly enough, but this black ginger works in a number of different ways. It's actually for how not well known it is really outside of Thailand, there's quite a bit of scientific research that's been done on it in the areas of sexual performance enhancement. In the areas of physical endurance and muscular strength enhancement. Really interesting results found there, both in animal research and in some initial human studies. So that's very promising. And actually just a study I was reading the other day was looking at when they put rats in a very stressful situation normally they find that they are not able to learn as well and that their brains get damaged at a faster rate. Well they found that when you do this to the rats, unfortunately it's not really cool to cause rats stress, I know, and it's kind of questionable whether or not that should be done, but let's at least learn from the suffering of these poor rats. They found that when the rats were put in a stressful situation, they did not experience the kind of cognitive damage and normally when they're under stress they don't learn as well. The memory function is impaired. This didn't happen when they were using this dose of black ginger. So it's really amazing. And they actually found that the neuronal density increased in the hippocampus. So there's some really interesting stuff going on around black ginger and dealing with stress because we all have so much stress in our lives and the sources of stress in our lives are not going anywhere, right? Technology is not going anywhere, our busy schedules are not getting any less busy. What it comes down to is how we're gonna be able to adapt to that stress and the black ginger can possibly play a very interesting role there. Now, we're gonna go north. We've gone all the way south, right?

 

We've gone through India, we've gone down into Thailand, we're gonna back up in the other direction and go to Siberia. Here we find Siberian ginseng. This is also known as eleuthero and maybe we'll think because of the name Siberian ginseng that this is actually indeed ginseng, but it's not. In the early part of the 1900s when there was lots of wars going on, the Russians were really blown away by the endurance and energy and stamina of the Chinese soldiers that could just fight for days on end and they were all powered by ginseng. And so in the years after that, the Russians really created an initiative to find something that would have these adaptogenic and energy enhancing properties, but growing on their soil because regular ginseng doesn't grow in Russia. They wanted to be able to have a domestic supply of something that could give their people, and especially their soldiers, these benefits. And what they found was eleuthero. Has many similar properties to ginseng and it's actually, when we do look at Reishi as the most well studied herb in the world, but eleuthero is the herb that has had the most money spent on it in terms of investing in the research. So there's been a ton of research done in Russia on eleuthero. And it improves natural energy production, it improves endurance, it improves focus, it's working in so many different ways. It improves resilience to the elements. So this is another incredible herb.

 

And then we go back into China. We're gonna go back into China for these last two forms of ginseng that are not really ginseng. So this one is called Prince ginseng and this is coming from southern China and it's known as the ginseng of the lungs. It's a lung tonic. It's a Qi tonic and it's a mild adaptogen. This is not one of the most mind blowing herbs in the world, but it is a pretty good lung, herb, and Qi tonic.

 

And then last but not least, and I saved a really good one for last. This is notoginseng, N-O-T-O ginseng all is one word. And this, again, not a botanical relative of ginseng, but it is a really powerful herb. There was a famous herbalist, his name is Li Qi Shen, he's a renowned herbalist and he said this is more valuable than gold this herb. It's all known as the miracle root for preservation of life. As names go for herbs, the miracle root for preservation of life, I'd say that's a pretty darn powerful name. This is a very strong blood tonic and hence it's really good for especially women to know about and especially women who are vegan and vegetarian, not consuming the Heme form of iron and very susceptible to iron deficiency anemia. This a great blood tonic herb to know about. And it's very high in saponins. We talked about the high saponin levels that we find in ginseng earlier. These are the adaptogenic compounds that we find in these herbs. Notoginseng is 12% saponins by its constitution. So it has a similar saponin profile to ginseng, many very similar saponins, but a much higher amount of them. So it might not be really related to ginseng, but it is an incredible herb in its own right as are all these other ones that we've discussed.

 

So, I hope you found this video informative and I'm curious to know what forms of ginseng of these have you tried and what's your experience been with them. If you've tried some of these forms of ginseng, leave a comment down below. I'd love to hear about it. And if haven't tried any, but you're thinking of trying one, if one of these really caught your attention and interest, leave a comment and let us know about that too. Thanks so much for joining us today guys, I really appreciate it and wish you all a wonderful day.

Comments

  • Posted by John Bergeleen on

    Very informative, thank you. I had no idea the variety in herbs and variety in quality of ginseng. If one were to purchase Panax ginseng, is there a reliable source of high quality ginseng (or herbs in general) online you can recommend?

  • Posted by Addictive Wellness on

    Thanks John, so glad to hear you enjoyed the video! Take a look at Dragon Herbs for a really nice line of high quality panax ginseng tinctures with lots of options from red to white, American to Changbai Mountain, both cultivated and wild harvested :)

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