The Forager's Path - School of Botanical Studies

Plant Profile: American Ginseng

Botanical Name: Panax quinquefoliumAmerican Ginseng, panax

Family: Araliaceae

Common Names: American Ginseng

Primary Characteristics for Field ID:
Native to the Appalachians, Panax is not found in the wild in the West.

Part Used for Medicine:

Habitat in Which it is Found/ Harvesting Season/ Special Considerations:
It is never wildcrafted in the Western US. Buy the best quality one can afford.
In order of potency and cost – wild, woods grown, cultivated. The older the root, the better as the roots store potency with age. It has been overharvested in the wild although it can be wildcrafted sustainably. Know the picker personally or get it cultivated.

Cool, moist, sweet, less stimulating than other adaptogens

Cooling and moistening for dry hot flashes of menopause
A useful adaptogen for warmer climates
Milder and better for younger adults
Supports healthy blood sugar
Nourishes the endocrine glands and the HPA Axis
Chi & Yin tonic
Increases reproductive energy

Herbal Combos:
It can be energetically matched with shatavari, licorice and the mallows.
It is energetically balancing to Asian Ginseng and Withania.

Safety Issues & Contraindications:
Due to its high price, this is an herb that is at risk for being diluted with other plant substances. Avoid the powder as you won’t know what it is. Purchase the whole roots commercially or know the picker.

Preferred Method of Preparation:
The traditional form is a tea. It is available in many forms commercially. I often purchase the whole root for quality control then powder it as needed – mix with honey.

The Plant Profiles are brief materia medica summaries of plants encountered during plant walks or introduced during class on our longer programs. They are presented here to help students organize plant info on an ongoing basis. Although the Profiles are not meant to be comprehensive, they are offered here to the public in the hope that others find these pages useful.


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