North America: Ginseng

There are many types of ginseng from different parts of the world, but Panax quinquefolius (or American ginseng) is actually native to eastern North America and grown right here in Canada. Canada is currently the largest producer of North American ginseng in the world.

Ginseng contains ginsenosides, which is the substance that gives ginseng its medicinal properties. Ginsenosides have been shown to improve memory, increase immunity and also relieve nervousness. Several human studies have shown that American ginseng lowered blood sugar levels in people with Type 2 diabetes, and one study found that people with Type 2 diabetes who took American ginseng before or with a high sugar drink experienced less of an increase in blood glucose levels.

While many ginseng enthusiasts rely on pill, powder or liquid supplements to obtain their ginseng intake, you can try using it when cooking to add an earthy flavour to boiled rice. You can find the dried root at local CHFA Member health food stores. Slice the root, add two to three slices to your rice as it boils, and enjoy the mellow, unique flavour of ginseng rice.

Explore the aisles of your local CHFA Member health food store for a variety of products containing ginseng. This natural ingredient can come in many forms, including capsules, tinctures and creams. Remember, it’s always best to consult with a health care practitioner before adding any new NHPs to your health care regimen.