Specialty of Korea Ginseng

Ginseng is a medicinal plant with wondrous powers. Although it grows in other countries as well, it is widely cultivated in Korea where the climate and soil produce the world's finest. It is a perennial herb that belongs to the Araliaceae family. Scientifically it is known as Panax schinseng Nees.
A ginseng plant usually grows to be about 60cm tall. The subterranean stem is short, and stands either straight or slightly tilted. The root looks similar to that of a Chinese bellflower, with a single stalk growing out of the stem. Three or four leaves grow at the end of the stalk. Light-green flowers blossom in April. When the flowers wither away, they are replaced by round, reddish fruit.
To distinguish it from ginseng grown in other parts of the world, Korean-grown ginseng is specifically called "Goryeo ginseng," named after the ancient dynasty of Goryeo from which the nation's current English name "Korea" is derived. Even in the old days, Korean ginseng used a different Chinese character for "sam" (meaning ginseng): "" was used for other types, while "" was reserved for Korean ginseng.

Ginseng grown in the wild, deep in the mountains, is known as sansam (mountain ginseng). It is, however, found only rarely, and cultivation meets nearly all of the demand these days. Goryeo ginseng's reputation began with sansam. In the old day, the search for it was almost a spiritual endeavor for those dwelling in the nation's mountainous regions. Even today, there are those who spend their lives wandering around deep valleys for the mystical plant. They are known as simmani or simmemani (both mean "gatherer of wild ginseng").
Ginseng grown in America is called American, western, Gwangdong, Hwagi, or Po ginseng ; Panax quinquefolium Linne is the scientific term. Japan's ginseng is Panax japonicum C.A. Meyer, and China's Panax notoginseng (Burk) F.H. Chen. They all belong to the araliaceae family, but are fundamentally different from Goryeo ginseng. Siberian ginseng, which is widely sold in Europe and America these days, also belongs to the same family, but not to the Panax (ginseng) genus. It is the root of a shrub, known by its scientific name, Eleutherococcus senticosus Maxim. Ginseng is very sensitive to climate and soil, and is thus extremely difficult to cultivate. Different locations of cultivation make for vastly different shapes, qualities, and medicinal powers. Hence, ginseng grown in other countries can hardly match Korean ginseng.

Korea 's expertise in cultivation, coupled with perfect weather and soil conditions, has made Korean ginseng a prized product on the global market. The following are the optimum conditions for ginseng cultivation.

1. Temperature: 9-13.8oC yearly average; 20-25oC during the summer. Physiological defects appear at around 35oC.

2. Precipitation: 700-2,000 mm yearly (1,100-1,300 mm optimum). Relatively small snowfall desirable.

3. Lighting: diffused lighting at 1/8 to 1/13 of the strength of natural outside light. Direct sunlight is detrimental to ginseng.

4. Soil: sandy top soil and deep clay soil with plenty of potassium.

5. Location: 5-15o slope in north/northeastern direction. (Or level land that drains well)

6. Other conditions that simulate the environment for ginseng grown in the wild, such as a thick accumulation of decaying foliage. Extensive use of chemical fertilizers makes the soil unnatural and thus unfit for ginseng.

By nature, the climate and soil of the Korean Peninsula meet all of the above conditions. Thus, ginseng can be grown in almost all regions of the country.

Kind of ginseng Korean ginseng American ginseng P.notoginseng P.japonicum
Botanical name Panax ginseng
C.A. Meyer
Panax quinquefoius L. Panax notoginseng
(Burk)F.H, Chen
Panax Japonicus
C.A. Meyer
Number of saponin 31 14 15 8
Main cultivation area The Korean Peninsula Wisconsin and Virginia states of the US,Ontario and Quebec states of Canada Yunnan and Guangxi Provinces of China All areas of Japan
Appearance The main root is developed well in a straight and man-like shape. The lateral root and fine root are also developed evenly. Short main root and lateralroot with poor development of the fine root Rough and black root A bamboo-like shape with severe winding

Efficacy of Korea Ginseng

  • - Controls diabetes mellitus
  • - Normalizes blood pressure and prevents atherosclerosis
  • - Helps prevent cancer development
  • - Strengthens the immune system and works as a cancer adjunctive
  • - Improves sexual stamina
  • - Enhances brain activity benefiting the psycho
  • - neurological system
  • - Protects the liver and detoxifies alcohol
  • - Utility as an adjunctive against chronic disease
  • - Improves post-menopausal disorders
  • - Counteracts fatigue / improves physical endurance

The medicinal powers of ginseng are extensively discussed in numerous historic materials. In Shennung pents'ao ching (Korean: Sinnong Bonchogyeong; Shen Nung's Pharmacopoeia), China's oldest written book on herbs, it is noted that ginseng protects the digestive system, calms the nerves, clears the eyes, and, if taken over a long period of time, makes the body light and agile.
Ginseng is used as a restorative or tonic, rather than as a cure for a particular illness. Traditional East Asian medicine officially lists the following effects of ginseng: strengthening of organs; stimulation of the heart; protection of the stomach and enhancement of stamina; and calming of nerves. As such, it is routinely prescribed to people with weak digestive systems and poorly functioning metabolisms. People with stomach discomfort, chronic indigestion, heartburn, emesis, and poor appetite can greatly benefit from ginseng.
Scientific research on the effects of ginseng took off in the 1950s in both pharmaceutical and clinical studies, unveiling the mystery that had surrounded the plant for thousands of years. Korean scholars have made great contributions to the scientific inquiry into the ginseng. They have consolidated the nation's reputation as the home of ginseng in every aspect cultivation, treatment and merchandising, and even research.
Acccording to existing studies, the primary ingredient that gives ginseng its medicinal quality is saponin, which reduces fatigue, enhances the body's productivity and brings down the blood sugar level. In recent theoretical analyses, ginseng's basic medical action is presumed to be that of an adaptogen, enhancing the overall resistance of the body and facilitating its normalization and recovery from a state of illness. More specifically, ginseng facilitates the production of glucocorticoid, an adrenocortical hormone, strengthening the ability of the adrenal cortex to deal with various kinds of stress to the body.

By stimulating the cerebral cortex and the choline, ginseng also brings down blood pressure, facilitates breathing, reduces excess sugar in the blood, assists the actions of insulin, increases red blood cells and hemoglobin, and strengthens the digestive tract. Active research is underway to prove that ginseng also facilitates the formation, of protein and DNA, and suppresses cancer.

Indeed, science is confirming the age-old belief that ginseng is the elixir of life. Thus, ginseng is a central ingredient in numerous prescriptions in traditional East Asian medicine. In Korea , where its wondrous powers were accepted long before modern science came into existence, it is also drunk as a tea or a liquor.

History of Korea Ginseng
Ginseng cultivation in Korea began centuries ago, according to historical materials found in Korea and elsewhere. Pents'ao kangmu (Korean: Bonchogangmok; Encyclopedia of Herbs), 52 volumes on the medicinal properties of plants, minerals and insects, was begun in 1552 and published in 1590 by a Ming Chinese scholar named Li Shizhen. It details how people at that time grew and traded ginseng. Some ancient Korean compilations of folk wisdom and mythology indicate that even as early as the fifth century, ginseng had begun to be cultivated from strains collected in the wild. Another record refers to the existence of ginseng cultivation in the eighth century during the Silla Kingdom (57B.C.-A.D. 935). Still another states that ginseng cultivation was widely practiced in the days of King Gojong (1213-1259) during the Goryeo Dynasty.
Taken together, these materials indicate that ginseng cultivation originated in the area around Mt. Mohusan in the township of Dongbok in an area which is now a part of Jeollanam-do province. It was quickly picked up by the enterprising merchants of Gaeseong, the capital of Goryeo who introduced Dongbok ginseng to the residents of the capital, and the area around Gaeseong quickly became the center of ginseng cultivation.
The territory of the kingdom of Goguryeo (37 B.C.-A.D. 668) extended north to the Liaodong region of China, Manchuria, and the coastal provinces of Siberia. Wild ginseng grew in these regions as well as on the Korean Peninsula. Goguryeo had a virtual monopoly on the supply of ginseng in those days. Since then, the preeminence of Goryeo ginseng has continued to this day. In modern times, Koreans have developed unique cultivation, treatment, and merchandising techniques to preserve the nation's honor as the home of the world's finest ginseng. The constitution of ginseng changes with climate and soil conditions. Thus, the quality of Goryeo ginseng is different from those of other types, so much so that it has its own scientific name.