American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius, Panacis quinquefolis) is a herbaceous perennial plant in the ivy family, commonly used as Chinese or traditional medicine. It is native to eastern North America, though it is also cultivated in China. Since the 18th century, American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) has been primarily exported to Asia, where it is highly valued for perceived superior quality and sweet taste.
The plant’s root and leaves were used in traditional medicine by Native Americans. Since the 18th century, the roots have been collected by “sang hunters” and sold to Chinese or Hong Kong traders, who often pay high prices for particularly old wild roots. Originally, American ginseng was imported into China via subtropical Guangzhou, the seaport next to Hong Kong. Since American ginseng was originally imported into China via a subtropical seaport, Chinese doctors believed American ginseng must be good for yang, because it came from a hot area. They did not know, however, that American ginseng can only grow in temperate regions. Nonetheless, the root is legitimately classified as more yin because it generates fluids.
There is tentative evidence that it may lessen the length of sickness when used preventively.
Ginsenosides, phytochemicals of the Panax species, are being studied for potential biological properties