Ginseng comes from the fleshy roots of perennial slow-growing plants belonging to 11 different species and two different genera. There are three popular varieties—Asian, American, and Siberian.

Asian or Korean ginseng is the oldest. The most famous and commonly found of the ginseng comes from Panax ginseng. American ginseng comes from Panax quinquefolius. Siberian ginseng is from a different genus: Eleutherococcus senticosus.

American ginseng is indigenous to North America. It is found growing across deciduous forest regions of the Eastern US. Farmers started cultivating the herb in the 1970s. Marathon County in Wisconsin produces over 90% of ginseng grown in the country. It is also widely grown in the Ontario province of Canada. The collection of the root from the wild is permitted in the US once the plant attains five years of age or more.

The active ingredient ginsenosides are common to the ginseng of the Panax genus. Ginsenosides are a group of steroidal saponins and over 100 ginsenosides have been identified which have similar molecular structures and are bioactive compounds.

Traditionally, ginseng is regarded as both a physical and mental restorant. It is said to improve the cognitive ability of patients, improve the quality of life and behavior. Ginsenoides and other constituents in ginseng possess immunosuppressive properties.

And there is much more on this group of plants, their botany, uses, scientific evidence in support or against traditional medicinal use.

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