Panax is derived from "panacea" or "cure-all" or "all-healing", which many believe is what ginseng is all about. There are about 5-13 species in the Panax genus but the following 5 will be discussed here.


Known as Asian or Oriental ginseng, panax ginseng is sometimes referred to as "true" ginseng. They can be found in Northeast China, Manchuria, eastern Siberia and the Korean peninsula. It is a protected plant in China and Russia and truly wild panax ginseng is hard to find. Today, panax ginseng is cultivated in Korea, Japan, China and Russia.

Panax ginseng is commercially available in the form of "red ginseng" and "white ginseng". Red ginseng is Asian ginseng roots that have been steamed and dried at high temperatures producing a reddish-brown root. White ginseng is lower grade Asian ginseng whose outermost layer of root tissue have been scraped or removed prior to drying thereby producing a lighter appearance.


Known as American or Canadian ginseng, they can be found in eastern North America. Along with panax ginseng, panax quinquefolius has highly curative properties but they have different chemical compositions and are used for different purposes in Chinese and herbal medicine.

American ginseng is taken for stress, as a stimulant and to boost the immune system to fight infections like colds and flu. It is taken to help with management of several conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, memory loss and erectile dysfunction.


Known as dwarf ginseng, they can be found in North America. Its appearance is quite different from other ginseng plants and has very little medicinal use or worth. Native American Indians used it for headaches, indigestion, hives and shortness of breath.


Known as Sanchi ginseng, they can be found in southwest China, Japan and Vietnam. Its properties are similar to panax ginseng and panax quinquefolius. Its commercial value and popularity as a medicinal herb is increasing. It is believed to improve blood circulation and lower cholesterol.


Known as Japanese or bamboo ginseng, they can be found in Japan. It has modest economic value and is used in China.


"Siberian Ginseng" is not a true ginseng and and is not a member of the Panax genus. It is actually not an herb but a shrub. It is however used in traditional Chinese medicine as a sleeping aid and to treat acute bronchitis.