Ginseng FAQ (14 Top Questions Answered!)

Ginseng is a herb that has been used in Chinese medicine for centuries to manage stress, improve mood, and boost energy levels. It is also commonly found in North American herbal blends that are marketed as “energy-boosting” supplements.

But how does it work? What do the benefits really mean? And why should you care about this ancient plant at all? The article will answer these questions and give a brief overview of what ginseng can do for your health.

Can You Juice Ginseng?

You’d normally have to press ginseng root under a fair amount of water in order to ensure that it had enough moisture to produce any measurable quantity of juice. Fresh ginseng roots will produce quite a bit more juice than most of those that can be found in open-air markets, however.

Others have found that it’s far more productive to juice ginseng berries, though this makes a fruitier juice than roots would.

Does Ginseng Plant Have Thorns?

Mature ginseng plants might have sharp protrusions, but these aren’t true thorns. They shouldn’t be able to puncture any thick material in the way that a rosebush might be able to, but you may still be able to cut yourself on hard parts of the leaves or roots if you’re not careful.

What Are Ginseng Companion Plants?

Any plant that can tolerate more shade than ginseng and has similar soil requirements should make a good companion. You may want to look into any of the following:

  • Bloodroot
  • Goldenseal
  • Mayapple
  • Jack in the pulpit
  • Maidenhair
  • Christmas fern
  • Wild yams
  • Spice bushes
  • Black cohosh

Technically, poison ivy would serve as a decent companion for ginseng as well, but it can make root harvesting somewhat difficult.

Can Ginseng Move?

Due to the fact that ginseng is a very particular plant that has specific soil needs, it might start to uproot itself over a period of time as the plant attempts to grow in more favorable conditions. This is normally not an issue in the wild, though container gardeners will need to keep an eye out for it.

Can Ginseng Plant Run Away?

When people say that their ginseng is running, they’re talking about the way it tends to grow toward areas that are more favorable to it. There are number of legends about this that come from the fact that ginseng looks somewhat like a person, and there’s even a saying in Chinese about the herb walking away.

Some people will tie a rope around a root to keep it from running away, but this is merely based on tradition. Ginseng itself cannot move more than creeping like any other plant would.

Is Ginseng Vegan?

Considering the fact that ginseng is nothing more than the root of a plant, it’s normally acceptable for both vegans as well as vegetarians. However, it’s important to remember that foods that contain ginseng could also theoretically have meat or milk in them.

Regular ginseng roots that are served fresh or made into a dietary supplement should usually pose no issues.

Is Ginseng Farming Profitable?

Estimates have the per-pound cost of ginseng being around $150, so there’s definitely a possibility for ginseng farmers to make a fair amount of money. That being said, you might have a fairly high upfront cost since ginseng seeds are expensive and the soil conditions for growing it are relatively particular.

However, those factors continue to drive the sale price of ginseng roots up.

How Many Types of Ginseng are There?

There are 19 different plants that are commonly referred to as ginseng, but only those varieties that are in the Panax genus are actually true ginseng the way that taxonomists commonly understand it. When people say ginseng, they usually mean American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius), Korean ginseng (Panax ginseng) or South China ginseng (Panax notoginseng).

There’s a great deal of local variety however, and all of these plants have multiple cultivars.

How is Ginseng Prepared?

Some ginseng roots are simply picked and cleaned without any further processing. It can be dried and made into a dietary supplement, which is a staple of traditional Chinese medicine.

Fresh ginseng is sometimes eaten, but it’s also stirred or fried into other types of food. A few confectioners have even made it into various types of candy.

Can Ginseng Grow in the Same Place Twice?

It all depends on local growing conditions and the amount of sun in the area. Ginseng farmers who are sure to protect their plants from excessive amounts of sun are able to grow plants in similar soil all the time.

Disturbed areas of soil in a wild environment could take a while to grow new roots again.

How Much Does Ginseng Cost?

Herb sellers will often sell ginseng in ¼-pound packages, which can go for around $40-60 depending on how many you buy. Others have a bulk per-pound cost, which can exceed $130-150.

Those who use ginseng as a supplement normally don’t need to buy very much. They might even get it in small prepared tinctures to save money.

What Does Ginseng Smell Like?

When it’s in its fresh state, ginseng will normally have an earthy smell that’s similar to most other root vegetables. This smell dissipates over time, but it reminds some people of carrots or potatoes even when ginseng is in a dried state.

What Does Ginseng Taste Like?

Much like it’s smell, the flavor of ginseng can best be described as earthy. It’s got a somewhat tangy flavor that is at least close enough to that of ginger to encourage some chefs to mix the two.

That being said, ginseng is orders of magnitude weaker than ginger and some find it has no noticeable taste to them at all.

Is Ginseng Plant Safe for Cats, Dogs, and Children?

Noted veterinarian Rania Gollakner wrote that there were at least limited studies in animals and some anecdotal evidence about the use of ginseng seems somewhat positive. However, it’s believed to increase blood flow so you don’t want to give it to cats or dogs that have high blood pressure already.

Ask your vet before making any decision about supplements for your animals. Some have also suggested that children should avoid excessive amounts of ginseng until they’re old enough to handle it, though the jury seems to be out on how old exactly.

Is Ginseng the Same as Mandrake?

Mandrake was once a name given to the root of any plant, which is why you sometimes hear it in connection with ginseng. Today, however, the term mandrake usually refers to plants that are members of the genus known as Mandragora.

Unlinke ginseng plants, Mandragora is toxic and you wouldn’t want to eat it. The two plants look nothing alike, but confusion still exists as a result of this antiquated use of the term.