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 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
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
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.
and Virginia states of the US,Ontario and Quebec
states of Canada
and Guangxi Provinces of China
areas of Japan
main root is developed well in a straight and
man-like shape. The lateral root and fine root
are also developed evenly.
main root and lateralroot with poor development
of the fine root
and black root
bamboo-like shape with severe winding
Efficacy of Korea Ginseng
- - Controls diabetes
- - Normalizes blood
pressure and prevents atherosclerosis
- - Helps prevent
- - Strengthens the
immune system and works as a cancer adjunctive
- - Improves sexual
- - Enhances brain
activity benefiting the psycho
- - neurological system
- - Protects the liver
and detoxifies alcohol
- - Utility as an
adjunctive against chronic disease
- - Improves post-menopausal
- - 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
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
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.
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.