It seems as though whenever I tell people that ginseng is one of the crops my father grows on our family farm, I am asked what exactly ginseng is. Considering ginseng is becoming more and more popular in North America, I decided I would dedicate a post discussing ginseng and its many purposes and uses. Its leaves, which are visible above ground, are green and oval-shaped, and its roots are a pale yellow/white colour that tend to be forked. Ginseng leaves also sprout berries that are red in colour, though such berries are not intended for consumption.

While ginseng production has expanded tremendously in North America in past decades, it has always been a dominant industry in Asian countries. It has been a component of Chinese medicine for centuries, and many individuals believe ginseng offers numerous health benefits when ingested.

Ginseng is predominately evident in energy drinks and herbal teas, but it has been suggested that it has the ability to aid in cognitive function, to possess anti-inflammatory properties, to assist in the prevention of cancer, to aid in cases of erectile dysfunction, and to ward off influenza bugs and viruses. However, it is important to speak with your healthcare provider prior to experimenting with ginseng. Possible side effects of ingesting ginseng include headaches, heightened heart beat, nausea, restlessness, difficulty sleeping, and vaginal bleeding or swollen breasts for women. It has also been stated that doctors do not recommend consuming ginseng alongside specific antidepressants, aspirin or certain heart or blood pressure medications.

Ginseng crops typically stay planted in the ground for three years, after which the root is dug up, sorted and sold. Prior to being harvested, berries are picked and are converted into seeds, which are then cleaned, dried and used to plant next year’s crop. The root is planted in soil and is covered by straw, and shade cloth hangs overtop of the crop to provide shade.

If you have any further questions about ginseng or its production, please feel free to ask me. It is an intruiging plant with various benefits.


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