[Panax quinquefolius (American); Panax ginseng (Korean)]
Of the two major species of Ginseng, the American, farm grown in Wisconsin and Canada, is considered the best. Siberian Ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus) belongs to a different genus and has a different makeup of active ingredients. While considered inferior, it's put to much the same uses as the Panax species and is often deceptively sold as Panax. Given the reputation of American ginseng, much of the Korean variety is put up in red, white and blue packages and sold as "Wisconsin Ginseng", even by Asian markets here in the USA. The photo specimens, from a Korean market in Los Angeles, were 6-3/4 inches long and weighed 1-3/8 ounce (left) and 2 ounces (right).
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Ginseng is reputed to improve libido and sexual performance, improve blood circulation, response to stress and recovery from weakness. Side effects are reputed to be insomnia and change in blood pressure (up or down).
Buying & Storing: Ginseng can be found fresh in some well stocked Korean markets, in the vegetable section. Dried and included in many potions it can be found in most Asian markets. The fresh root is fairly perishable. It should be refrigerated and used within a week.
Cooking: Ginseng is used in a large number of medicinal soups and teas, most prominently chicken soups. It is particularly popular in China and Korea.