There are three main species of ginseng, Oriental, Siberian and American. Oriental ginseng has been used in Traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years. Native Americans have likewise used American ginseng for all of their recorded history.
While all three forms share many common elements, there are differences among them. Siberian ginseng is not truly ginseng at all, but rather a distant cousin to the Oriental species.
Oriental ginseng (panax ginseng) is grown in both China and Korea. Red panax, as grown by the Koreans is the most popular form of ginseng. It gets its name from the processing of the root, which turns it red. White Oriental ginseng on the other hand is the ginseng root that has been allowed to dry naturally.
Wild Oriental ginseng is extremely rare in the market today and can command a price upwards of twenty thousand dollars an ounce (31103.3 milligrams). For this reason, most Chinese and Korean ginseng is usually cultivated for use.
American ginseng, (panax quinquefolium) at one time, was plentiful in all mountainous regions of the United States. Over-harvesting led to tight restrictions on this once-abundant herb. Now, only licensed ginseng harvesters are allowed to dig for the wild ginseng root.
American ginseng is also commonly cultivated. Relatively easy to grow, the root takes approximately 5 years to reach harvesting maturity.
Siberian ginseng, (eleutherococcus senticocus) is a distant cousin to the panax ginseng of the Orient. While Siberian ginseng shares many of the same properties of Oriental species, it is easier to cultivate and generally sells for much less.
All forms of ginseng are said to aid in reducing stress, improving vitality and boosting the immune system. Oriental ginseng, whether white or red, is often taken as a daily tonic with the added benefit of an energy boost.
American ginseng has been found to aid menopausal women with hot flashes, reduce fevers and the loosening of a dry, hacking cough due to smoking or other factors. Russian scientists claim that Siberian ginseng aids in memory, stamina and endurance. Siberian ginseng is a staple of athlete's and production workers.
Which type of ginseng should a person take? Any one of the three types is generally considered to be worthwhile. Price and availability plays an important role also. With the advent of online shopping, all three forms are readily available.