Herb of the Month - Siberian Ginseng

Author: Jillian Foster   Date Posted:1 February 2019 

A small, woody shrub that dates back over 2,000 years in China; it is native to south-eastern Russia, northern China, Korea and Japan. It was introduced in modern times as an alternative to Asian ginseng (also known as Panax ginseng) which had become expensive and difficult to grow. The root of the plant is used in both Western herbal medicine and traditional Chinese medicine (TCM).

Although Siberian ginseng has been widely used in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), it wasn’t until Russian scientists started to explore the beneficial effects of this root in the 1950s that it made its mark. From this work it was included in the Soviet Pharmacopoeia and began to gain popularity for its use as an adaptogen, helping the body adapt to stress. It was notably used by Russian athletes in preparation for the Olympic Games in the 1970s and 1980s and was even included in the Russian space program for use in cosmonauts.


An adaptogen

The term ‘adaptogen’ was coined by a Soviet researcher to describe Siberian ginseng’s ability to increase resistance to the negative effects of stress and to help modulate stress and improve performance under stressful conditions.

It is believed that Siberian ginseng helps combat stress in 3 ways.

  1. By increasing the body’s defence against environmental stress and chemicals;
  2. By helping to stimulate the immune system;
  3. By providing an overall improvement in physical and mental performance.



Traditional use

In China, Siberian ginseng is traditionally used as a tonic to help restore vigour and memory; increase stamina and improve overall general health. It has long been used in herbal medicine as a general tonic to aid during times of convalescence.

In Western herbal medicine it has been used traditionally as an adaptogen to support stamina and physical endurance, to maintain vitality, relieve symptoms of stress, reduce fatigue and to support mental clarity and cognitive function.


Fun fact

Korean ginseng and Siberian ginseng, despite both being called ginseng, are not from the same family. Siberian ginseng does not belong to the Panax family, so it is not considered a 'true' ginseng. It gained its name due to sharing similar properties to the ginseng family.


Written by Jillian Foster

Jillian (BHSc Naturopathy) is a qualified naturopath who believes through a healthy and balanced diet and lifestyle, we have the power to influence our health and the health of future generations. With a passion for herbal medicine, Jillian loves helping people find the right solution for their health needs and educating people on how they can lead a healthy and happy life. 

Jillian enjoys keeping active with her two young children and baking them delicious and healthy treats.

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