Singing the praises of ginseng

Issue 5: Feature 6 – Ginseng
Singing The Praises Of Ginseng
Used for over 5,000 years, this ancient root has been
an Ontario commodity since 1716
Submitted by the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA)
Is your youngster suffering from a tummy ache? Are you feeling lethargic or sense you might be coming down with a cold or flu? One course of treatment is rooted in history and is itself a root called Ginseng. Ginseng is a slow-growing herb with a light coloured single stalk and long oval green leaves. First discovered over 5,000 years ago in Manchuria, Ginseng was used for food and then later for its strength-giving and invigorating properties. In Asian medicine, Ginseng is considered to help replenish energy, boost immunity, reduce the body’s susceptibility to illness and promote health and longevity. Ginseng grown in North America has a different chemical make-up than its Asian counterpart and each appears to have distinct biological benefits. From a traditional medicine perspective, the two types of Ginseng are seen to complement each other. For example, the Chinese believe North American Ginseng to be more yin which means it is used to reduce “heat” in the body, while Asian Ginseng is considered to be more yang – a body heat riser. Ontario’s Ginseng industry began in the 1890s when the Hellyers, two Waterford-based brothers, helped to get the province’s large-scale, commercial industry off the ground. The brothers cultivated seeds from wild roots and the strain they developed is still used in today’s Ginseng gardens. Some of Ontario’s Ginseng growers produce prepared consumer products such as capsules, powder and candy, although most of the Ginseng grown in this province is shipped as a whole root and processed in other countries such as China. When it comes to the health benefits, there is some very exciting research underway to address diabetes, cold and flu, memory, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, cancer, male sexual behaviour, antioxidant activity and cardiovascular protection. For example, Canadian scientists at the University of Toronto are leading the way with early short-term, acute studies that show North American Ginseng can significantly reduce after- meal blood sugar levels in people with Type 2 diabetes. While this is promising, the researchers also say these studies have limitations and should be interpreted with cautious optimism. Other clinical trials indicate that Ginseng-based products can help lower the risk of colds, flu and respiratory illness in older adults. As a brain booster, studies show how Ginseng extracts from the North American strain can be used to enhance memory in healthy young and senior adults. So if you’re looking at using herbal treatments to support your overall health and vitality, why not tap into an age-old remedy. Ginseng could be just the tonic for what ails you! Did you know:

• At least 60 percent of Ontario’s Ginseng is sold to the overseas Asian market where it is processed and often shipped back to Canada as tea, pills and other products. • North American Ginseng is available in a variety of product forms and is typically taken as dried or powdered root, powdered extracts, tea and tinctures. • Whether taken as a supplement, tonic or tea, North American Ginseng is safe and To learn more, visit Note to media: Images of Ontario ginseng are available free-of-charge, with appropriate credit to the Ontario Ginseng Growers Association. You can download images directly from the site or contact the OGGA at for more information. Tel: 519-426-7046.


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