Does anyone else feel like ginseng is making a comeback? I remember back in the early 2000s when suddenly “ginseng” was popping up in everything from Arizona Ice Tea to energy drinks and caffeine shots. It was this mysterious energy booster from the orient that was so trendy to put on labels.
Well, last year I saw a very popular and famous Korean ginseng brand, Cheon Kwan Jang, at Costco and I was like, “Wow, is ginseng coming back???”
As a Korean, I was introduced to Ginseng very early in life, but since it’s such an expensive ingredient, it was mostly reserved for occasions that warranted the special powers of ginseng. When my dad was especially stressed and studying/working hard for his doctorate degree my mom would make sure he took supplements with ginseng in them. And when he had to have lung surgery she got a custom batch of Chinese medicine herb extracts made for his recovery process. At least once or twice a year when the weather was especially cold or there was a round of the flu going around at home Mom would make a big pot of ginseng chicken soup to help us get our strength back and it’s still something I distinctly remember. That bitter root smell wafting through the house was a signal of healing and we couldn’t wait for that hot bowl of hearty soup to grace our dinner table.
While the ginseng experience here in North America is quite different, I do see its increasing popularity, especially with the recent resurgence it’s having in supplements and with well-known ginseng brands being more visible. If you are interested in adding ginseng to your home “pharmacy” then I suggest you take note of a few things to look out for so that you can choose the right products and supplements:
- Korean (Panax) Ginseng vs. American Ginseng -> First thing’s first, the origin is incredibly important, particularly whether it’s from Korea or America, because American ginseng does not have the same health benefits. Most people seek out ginseng products because of what they know about Korean ginseng: If the ingredient is listed as just “ginseng” and not Korean Ginseng, just know that the 2 have different functions. American ginseng is known for its cooling, relaxing, and immunity-boosting properties while Korean Panax ginseng is a “warming” agent that stimulates and invigorates. So the next time you buy an energy drink or ice tea that claims to have ginseng/ginseng extract take a look at the ingredient list. If it doesn’t specify what type of ginseng you just might be getting duped!
- Ginsenoside: Ginsenosides are a class of natural steroid that is found exclusively from Panax and this compound is also antimicrobial and antifungal which is why it makes the ginseng root such a coveted natural medicine! 1000mg of Korean red ginseng contains about 5% ginsenosides, so look at the mg when choosing Panax ginseng supplements and products.
- White Ginseng vs. Red Ginseng: The difference between white ginseng and red ginseng is sort of like tea. White ginseng is harvested at 4 years or younger and is peeled (which prevents decay) and dried. In the spring during ginseng season you can even find the baby roots served as a side dish in Korea or find them in Korean supermarkets, albeit for a pretty steep price! Cooking with ginseng root is common in Korea, and you can find it in traditional chicken soups, marinated in chili paste, or even served raw. In contrast, red ginseng is a root that is harvested after 6 or more years, which means that it has had time to age underground and is more meaty and very fibrous. Red ginseng is not peeled and goes through a steaming and drying process that prevents decay and increases the concentration of ginsenosides, which makes it more potent and more sought after.
Overall, Korean Panax Ginseng continues to be an acclaimed natural medicine known for giving you a smooth burst of energy, enhancing mental clarity and productivity, and providing support and protection to our immune system.
I like taking my Nutrachamps Korean Panax Ginseng in the morning or adding it to my husband’s smoothies and then during the day if I need a pick-me-up I will knock back a pouch of Cheon Kwan Jang Korean red ginseng juice or take a ginseng candy.
You can find Cheon Kwan Jang products at H-mart and other Korean markets, and occasionally Costco carries the ginseng juice pouches! Currently, you can also find a 20pouch box of juiced pouches on iHerb for $20.75.
If you’re interested in the daily Nutrachamps Panax Ginseng supplements I take you can get them through my affiliate link and use my promo code GROWANDGLOW for a 10% discount. I get a small commission off of your purchase, which helps me to continue creating helpful and informational blogs such as this one 🙂
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