Ginseng has long been used in Asian and Western herbal medicine for everything from reduced stress to increased stamina. It’s anti-inflammatory and contains antioxidants, with cell studies demonstrating its potential cancer-fighting abilities. Some people find ginseng overly stimulating if taken in high doses or in the evening, and health experts advise against long-term use, especially in high doses.
There are two main types of ginseng: Asian ginseng (<Panax ginseng>) and American ginseng (<Panax quinquefolius>). Siberian ginseng (<Eleutherococcus senticosus>) is a different plant entirely. In the 1700s, wild American ginseng was Canada’s second most valuable export after fur. But, because of overharvesting, only cultivated Canadian ginseng can now be sold. Look for sustainable versions online or in natural health food or Asian herbal medicine shops.
Ginseng has a slightly bitter flavour and is traditionally steeped in a tea with honey and lemon, or simmered in soup. This simple breakfast or snack recipe reinvents the ginseng and honey pairing (and is even better enjoyed with a cup of lemon herbal tea).