Saturday, June 30, 2012

Sesame Seeds Cultivation

Scientific classification
Kingdom         : Plantae
(unranked)       : Angiosperms
(unranked)       : Eudicots
(unranked)       : Asterids
Order              : Lamiales
Family             : Pedaliaceae
Genus              : Sesamum
Species            : S. indicum
Binomial name  :Sesamum indicum L.

Sesame ( Sesamum indicum) is a flowering plant in the genus Sesamum. Numerous wild relatives occur in Africa and a smaller number in India. It is widely naturalized in tropical regions around the world and is cultivated for its edible seeds, which grow in pods.

Sesame seed is considered to be the oldest oilseed crop known to man, domesticated well over 5000 years ago. Sesame is very drought-tolerant. It has been called a survivor crop, with an ability to grow where most crops fail.
Sesame has one of the highest oil content of any seed. With a rich nutty flavor, it is a common ingredient in cuisines across the world.
Sesame, like other nuts and foods, triggers allergy reactions in some people.

The world harvested about 3.84 million metric tonnes of Sesame seeds in 2010. The largest producer of Sesame seeds in 2010 was Myanmar. The world's largest exporter of sesame seeds was India, while Japan the largest importer.


It is an annual plant growing to 50 to 100 cm (1.6 to 3.3 ft) tall, with opposite leaves 4 to 14 cm (1.6 to 5.5 in) long with an entire margin; they are broad lanceolate, to 5 cm (2 in) broad, at the base of the plant, narrowing to just 1 cm (0.4 in) broad on the flowering stem.

The flowers are yellow, tubular, 3 to 5 cm (1.2 to 2.0 in) long, with a four-lobed mouth. The flowers may vary in colour with some being white, blue or purple.
Sesame fruit is a capsule, normally pubescent, rectangular in section and typically grooved with a short triangular beak. The length of the fruit capsule varies from 2 to 8 cm, its width varies between 0.5 to 2 cm, and the number of loculi from 4 to 12. The fruit naturally splits opens (dehisces) to release the seeds by splitting along the septa from top to bottom or by means of two apical pores, depending on the varietal cultivar. The degree of dehiscence is of importance in breeding for mechanised harvesting as is the insertion height of the first capsule.

Sesame seeds are small. The size, form and colors vary with the thousands of varieties now known. Typically, the sesame seeds are about 3 to 4 millimeters long by 2 millimeters wide and 1 millimeter thick. The seeds are ovate, slightly flattened and somewhat thinner at the eye of the seed (hilum) than at the opposite end. The weight of the seed is between 20 and 40 milligrams. The seed coat (testa) may be smooth or ribbed.
Sesame seeds come in many colors depending on the cultivar harvested. The most traded variety of Sesame is off white colored. Other common colors are buff, tan, gold, brown, reddish, gray and black.

Sesame seed is sometimes sold with its seed coat removed (decorticated). This is the variety often present on top of buns in developed economies.


Sesame seed is considered to be the oldest oilseed crop known to humanity. Sesame has many species, and most are wild. Most wild species of the genus Sesamum are native to sub-saharan Africa. Sesame Indicum the cultivated type, originated in India.

Charred remains of sesame recovered from archeological excavations have been dated to 3500-3050 BC. Fuller claims trading of Sesame between Mesopotamia and regions that are now Pakistan and India occurred by 2000 BC. Some reports claim Sesame was cultivated in Egypt during the Ptolemiac period, while others suggest the New Kingdom

Records from Babylon and Assyria, dating about 4000 years ago mention Sesame. Egyptians called it sesemt, and it is included in the list of medicinal drugs in the scrolls of the Ebers Papyrus dated to be over 3600 years old. Archeological reports from Turkey indicate that Sesame was grown and pressed to extract oil at least 2750 years ago in the empire of Urartu.

The historic origins of Sesame was favored by its ability to grow in areas that will not support the growth of other crops; it is also a robust crop that needs little farmer support - it grows in drought conditions, in high heat, with residual moisture in soil after monsoons are gone or even when rains fail or when rains are excessive. It was a crop that could be grown by subsistence farmers at the edge of deserts, where no crops grow. Sesame has been called a survivor crop.


Sesame is very drought-tolerant, in part due to its extensive root system. However, it requires adequate moisture for germination and early growth. While the crop survives drought as well as presence of excess water, the yields are significantly lower in either conditions. Moisture levels before planting and flowering impact yield most.
Most commercial cultivars of Sesame are intolerant of water-logging. Rainfall late in the season prolongs growth and increases high harvest-shattering losses. Wind can also cause shattering at harvest.

Initiation of flowering is sensitive to photoperiod and to Sesame variety. The photoperiod also impacts the oil content in sesame seed; increased photoperiod increases oil content. The oil content of the seed is inversely proportional to its protein content.
Sesame varieties have adapted to many soil types. The high yielding crops thrive best on well-drained, fertile soils of medium texture and neutral pH. However these have low tolerance for soils with high salt and water-logged conditions. Commercial sesame crops require 90 to 120 frost free days. Warm conditions above 23 oC favor growth and yields. While sesame crops can grow in poor soils, the best yields come from properly fertilized farms.

Since sesame is a small flat seed, it is difficult to dry it after harvest because the small seed makes movement of air around the seed difficult. Therefore, the seeds need to be harvested as dry as possible and stored at 6 percent moisture or less. If the seed is too moist, it can quickly heat up and become rancid.

After harvesting, the seeds are usually cleaned and hulled. In some countries, once the seeds have been hulled, they are passed through an electronic color-sorting machine that rejects any discolored seeds to ensure perfectly colored sesame seeds. This is done because sesame seeds with consistent appearance is perceived to be of better quality by consumers and sells for higher price. Immature or off-sized seed is removed but saved for oil production.


Sesame is used as a food plant by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species, including the Turnip Moth.

Production & Trade

Top Ten Sesame Producers in 2010
Country             Production     (million ton) Yields (ton/hectare)
 Burma                0.72                                   0.46
 India                   0.62                                   0.34
 China                  0.59                                   1.22
 Ethiopia              0.31                                    0.99
 Sudan                 0.25                                    0.19
 Uganda               0.17                                    0.61
 Nigeria                0.12                                    0.38
 Burkina Faso       0.09                                    0.72
 Niger                   0.09                                    0.50
 Somalia               0.07                                    0.96
World Total         3.84                                     0.49

The world harvested about 3.84 million metric tonnes of Sesame seeds in 2010. The largest producer of Sesame seeds in 2010 was Myanmar. The top three producers accounted for 50 percent of the world's production.

Sesame was grown on over 7.8 million hectares of world's farms in 2010.

The worldwide average yield of sesame seeds was 0.49 metric tonnes per hectare in 2010. The table in this section presents the 2010 production (million metric tons) and yields (metric tons per hectare) for the top ten producers of Sesame seeds.

The most productive Sesame seed farms in the world were in the European Union with an average composite yield of 5.5 metric tonnes per hectare in 2010; Italy reported the best nation wide average yield of 7.2 metric tonnes per hectare in 2010. There is a large yield gap and farm loss differences between major sesame seed producers, in part because of knowledge gap, poor crop management practices and use of technology.
The white and other lighter colored sesame seeds are common in Europe, the Americas, West Asia, and Indian subcontinent. The black and darker colored sesame seeds are mostly produced in China and southeast Asia. Africa produces a variety of sesame seeds.

Beginning in the 1950s, U.S. production of the crop has been largely centered in Texas, with acreage fluctuating between 10,000 to 20,000 acres (40 to 80 km2) in recent years. The country's crop does not make up a significant global source; indeed imports have now outstripped domestic production.

The world traded over a billion dollars worth of sesame seeds in 2010. The trade volume has been increasing rapidly in last two decades.

Japan is the world's largest sesame importer. Sesame oil, particularly from roasted seed, is an important component of Japanese cooking and traditionally this is the principal use of the seed. China is the second largest importer of sesame, mostly oil-grade sesame. China exports lower priced food grade sesame seeds, particularly to southeast Asia. Other major importers are the United States, Canada, Netherlands, Turkey and France.

Sesame seed is a high value cash crop. Sesame prices have ranged between US$ 800 to 1700 per metric ton between 2008 and 2010.

Sesame exports sell across a wide price range. Quality perception, particularly how the seed looks is a major pricing factor. Most importers who supply ingredient distributors and oil processors only want to purchase scientifically treated, properly cleaned, washed, dried, color-sorted, size-graded and impurity-free seeds with a guaranteed minimum oil content (not less than 40 percent) packed according to international standards. Seeds that do not meet these quality standards are considered unfit for exports and are consumed locally. In 2008, by volume, by premium prices and by quality, the largest exporter was India, followed by Ethiopia and Myanmar.

Nutrition and health treatments

For thousands of years, sesame seeds have been a source of food and oil. Sesame has one of the highest oil content of any seed, some varietals exceeding 50 percent oil content compared to soybean's 20 percent. Sesame oil is one of the most stable vegetable oils, with long shelf life, because of the high level of natural antioxidants (sesamin, sesamolin, and sesamol). Oil from the seed is used in cooking, as salad oils and margarine, and contains about 47 percent oleic and 39 percent linoleic acid. Sesame seed oil, like sunflower seed oil, is rich in Omega 6 fatty acids, but lacks Omega 3 fatty acids. Sesame seed is also rich in protein, at 25 percent by weight. The flour that remains after oil extraction is between 35 to 50 percent protein, has good effective carbohydrates, and contains water-soluble antioxidants (sesaminol glucosides) that provide added shelf-life to many products. This flour, also called sesame meal, is an excellent high-protein feed for poultry and livestock. The addition of sesame to high lysine meal of soybean produces a well balanced animal feed.
The relative ratio of protein and oil, as well as essential amino acids and essential fatty acids varies with sesame cultivar as well as growing conditions.

In 2008, about 65 percent of the annual sesame crop was processed into oil and 35 percent was used in food. The food segment included about 42 percent roasted sesame, 36 percent washed sesame, 12 percent ground sesame and 10 percent roasted sesame seed with sal

Sesame seed kernels, toastedNutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 2,372 kJ (567 kcal)
Carbohydrates 26.04 g
- Sugars 0.48 g
- Dietary fiber 16.9 g
Fat 48.00 g
Protein 16.96 g
- Tryptophan 0.371 g
- Threonine 0.704 g
- Isoleucine 0.730 g
- Leucine 1.299 g
- Lysine 0.544 g
- Methionine 0.560 g
- Cystine 0.342 g
- Phenylalanine 0.899 g
- Tyrosine 0.710 g
- Valine 0.947 g
- Arginine 2.515 g
- Histidine 0.499 g
- Alanine 0.886 g
- Aspartic acid 1.574 g
- Glutamic acid 3.782 g
- Glycine 1.162 g
- Proline 0.774 g
- Serine 0.925 g
Water 5.00 g
Vitamin C 0.0 mg (0%)
Calcium 131 mg (13%)
Iron 7.78 mg (60%)
Magnesium 346 mg (97%)
Phosphorus 774 mg (111%)
Potassium 406 mg (9%)
Sodium 39 mg (3%)
Zinc 7.16 mg (75%)

Sesame seed kernels, driedNutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 2,640 kJ (630 kcal)
Carbohydrates 11.73 g
- Sugars 0.48 g
- Dietary fiber 11.6 g
Fat 61.21 g
Protein 20.45 g
- Tryptophan 0.330 g
- Threonine 0.730 g
- Isoleucine 0.750 g
- Leucine 1.500 g
- Lysine 0.650 g
- Methionine 0.880 g
- Cystine 0.440 g
- Phenylalanine 0.940 g
- Tyrosine 0.790 g
- Valine 0.980 g
- Arginine 3.250 g
- Histidine 0.550 g
- Alanine 0.990 g
- Aspartic acid 2.070 g
- Glutamic acid 4.600 g
- Glycine 1.090 g
- Proline 1.040 g
- Serine 1.200 g
Water 3.75 g
Vitamin C 0.0 mg (0%)
Calcium 60 mg (6%)
Iron 6.4 mg (49%)
Magnesium 345 mg (97%)
Phosphorus 667 mg (95%)
Potassium 370 mg (8%)
Sodium 47 mg (3%)
Zinc 11.16 mg (117%)

Health claims

Kamal-Eldin et al. have reviewed patent literature claiming beneficial effects of sesame seed. They note that these health claims are based on the very high levels (up to 2.5%) of furofuran lignans with beneficial physiological activities, mainly sesamin, sesamolin, and sesaminol glucosides. Among edible oils from six plants, sesame oil had the highest Ferric Reducing/Antioxidant Power (FRAP) value, which means the herbs and additives are better preserved in sesame oil. To the extent these herbs have health benefits, the study proposes that it may be possible that ingestion of these herbs preserved in sesame oil could increase resistance of polyunsaturated fatty acids of cell membranes and lipoproteins to oxidation within the body.
Sesame seeds contain phytosterols associated with reduced levels of blood cholesterol. Sesame seeds are a good source of calcium and are therefore suitable for sufferers of osteoporosis. Sesame seeds contain a high amount of the antioxidant phytic acid. The nutrients of sesame seeds are better absorbed if they are ground or pulverized before consumption, as in tahini.

Women of ancient Babylon would eat halva, a mixture of honey and sesame seeds to prolong youth and beauty, while Roman soldiers ate the mixture for strength and energy.
There have been erroneous claims that sesame seeds also contain THC which may be detectable on random screening. This error stems from a misunderstanding of the commercial drug Dronabinol, a synthetic form of THC. The normal delivery mechanism for synthetic dronabinol is via infusion into sesame oil and encapsulation into soft gelatin capsules. As a result some people are under the mistaken assumption that sesame oil naturally contains THC. In fact, THC, CBD, CBN and the other cannabinoids are unique to the Cannabis genus.

Sesame oil is used for massage and health treatments of the body (abhyanga and shirodhara) and teeth (oil pulling) in the ancient Indian ayurvedic system. Ayurveda views sesame oil as the most viscous of the plant oils and believes it may pacify the health problems associated with Vata aggravation.

Chemical composition

Sesame seeds contain the lignans pinoresinol and lariciresinol.

Sesame seeds oil

Sesame oil is said to be good for controlling high blood pressure, gastric, cholesterol and other health-related problems. West Bengal, is one of the highest sesame producing states in India.

While nearly seven lakh tonnes of sesame is produced in the country, the State alone accounts for nearly a third or two lakh tonnes of sesame production.

 However, following the absence of plants to convert it into oil, the harvest was sent out to the other parts of the country. An oil processing plant with an investment of Rs.60 crores is set up at Uluberia,Howrah district.


Sesame seeds and sesame oil are a serious allergen to some people. Even some infants have been found to exhibit allergies to sesame. In Australia the occurrence of allergy to sesame seed was estimated to be 0.42 percent among all children, while in the United Kingdom the allergic reaction was found to affect 0.04 percent of adults. The occurrence of allergy to sesame in patients with some form of food allergy was found to be much higher than in the general population, ranging from 0.5 percent in Switzerland to 8.5 percent in Australia. In other words, allergy to sesame affects a small percentage of overall human population; but, sesame allergy is high in people who already show symptoms of allergy to other foods.

The symptoms of Sesame seed allergy can be classified into:
Systemic reactions: Primarily presenting anaphylaxis characterized by symptoms including hives (urticaria), lip and eyelid swelling (angioedema ) sneezing, nasal itching, congestion, rhinorrhea, wheezing, cough, tightness of throat, hoarse voice, difficulty in breathing, abdominal pain, unconsciousness, shock with drop of blood pressure. In the systemic reactions can also be included severe reactions like dizziness, drowsiness, chills and collapse as has been reported in patients after ingestion of falafel burger.
Other symptoms: Facial or generalized redness (“flushing”), hives (urticaria) on smaller or larger parts of the body, swelling of the eyelids, lips or other parts of the face, itching of the eyes or of the skin in general, hay fever symptoms in the eyes and eczema. Respiratory symptoms observed include hay fever, asthma, cough, wheeze, or difficulty in breathing. Gastrointestinal symptoms: Itching in the mouth and/or tongue soon after chewing and ingesting (Oral allergy syndrome) and abdominal pain.

Amounts as low as 100 mg of sesame seeds or sesame flour and 3 ml of sesame oil can trigger allergic reactions in severe cases of sesame allergic individuals. Most patients, however, show allergic reactions after consuming 2–10 grams of sesame seeds or sesame seed flour. The onset of the symptoms may occur within a few minutes up to 90 minutes after ingestion of sesame seed product. It was a common finding that most patients had other allergic diseases such as asthma, hay fever, and eczema, and most patients also had a relative with an allergic disease. More than two thirds of the patients with Sesame allergy also had food allergic reactions to other foods.

Prevalence of sesame allergy varies per country. While it is one of the three most common allergens in Israel, sesame allergy prevalence is considered small relative to other allergens in the United States. Some experts consider sesame allergies to have "increased more than any other type of food allergy over the past 10 to 20 years" in the United States. Such increasing prevalence led Canada to issue regulations that require food labels to note the presence of sesame.

In addition to products derived from sesame such as tahini and sesame oil, persons with sesame allergies are warned to stay away from a broad assortment of processed foods including baked goods, tempeh, and generic "vegetable oil." In addition to possible food sources, individuals allergic to sesame have been warned that a variety of non-food sources may also trigger a reaction to sesame, including adhesive bandages, cosmetics, hair care products, perfumes, soaps and sunscreens, drugs, some fungicides and insecticides, lubricants, ointments and topical oils, and pet food.

At least one study found that "standard skin and blood testing for food allergies doesn’t predict whether a child has true sesame allergy."  In which case, a food challenge under direction of a physician may be required to properly diagnose a sesame allergy.

There appears to be cross-reactivity between sesame allergens and peanut, rye, kiwifruit, poppy seed, and various tree nuts (such as hazelnut, black walnut, cashew, macadamia and pistachio).


Sesame seed is a common ingredient in various cuisines. It is used whole in cooking for its rich nutty flavour. Sesame seeds are sometimes added to breads, including bagels and the tops of hamburger buns. Sesame seeds may be baked into crackers, often in the form of sticks. In Sicily and France, the seeds are eaten on bread (called "ficelle sésame", sesame thread). Fast food restaurants use buns with tops sprinkled with sesame seeds. About one-third of Mexico's sesame crop is exported to the United States and purchased by McDonald's for their sesame seed buns .
Sesame seeds are sprinkled onto some sushi style foods but this practice is more popular in Asia. Whole seeds are found in many salads and baked snacks as well in Japan. East Asian cuisines, like Chinese cuisine use sesame seeds and oil in some dishes, such as dim sum, sesame seed balls ;  and the Vietnamese bánh rán. Sesame flavour (through oil and roasted or raw seeds) is also very popular in Korean cuisine, used to marinate meat and vegetables. Chefs in tempura restaurants blend sesame and cottonseed oil for deep-frying.
Tan and black sesame seed varieties are roasted and used for making the flavoring gomashio. In Greece the seeds are used in cakes, and in Togo they are a main soup ingredient.

In DR Congo and North of Angola, ground sesame or wangila is a delicious dish, especially when cooked with smoked fish or lobsters.
In Manipur (India) black sesame is used in the preparation of Thoiding and in Singju (a kind of salad). Thoiding is prepared with ginger and chili and vegetables are used in the spicy Singu dish. In Assam, black sesame seeds are used to make Til Pitha and Tilor laru (sesame seed balls) during bihu. In Punjab and Tamil Nadu (both in India), a sweet ball called "Pinni" in Urdu and 'Ell urundai' in Tamil, "Ellunda" in Malayalam, "Yellunde" (sesame ball, usually in jaggery) in Kannada and tilgul in Marathi is made of its seeds mixed with sugar. Also in Tamil Nadu, sesame oil used extensively in their cuisine, Milagai Podi, a ground powder made of sesame and dry chili is used to enhance flavor and consumed along with other traditional foods such as idli.

Sesame seed cookies and wafers, both sweet and savory, are popular in places like Charleston, South Carolina. Sesame seeds, also called benne, are believed to have been brought into 17th century colonial America by West African slaves. Since then, they have become part of various American cuisines.

In Caribbean cuisine, sugar and white sesame seeds are combined into a bar resembling peanut brittle and sold in stores and street corners.
Sesame is a popular and essential ingredient in many Middle Eastern cuisines. Sesame seeds is made into a paste called tahini (used in various ways, including hummus bi tahini) and the Middle Eastern confection halvah. Ground and processed, the seeds is also used in sweet confections. In South Asia, Middle East, East Asian cuisines, popular confectionery are made from sesame mixed with honey or syrup and roasted into a sesame candy. In Japanese cuisine goma-dofu  is made from sesame paste and starch.
Mexican cuisine refers to sesame seeds as Ajonjolí. It is mainly used as a sauce additive, such as mole or adobo. It is often also used to sprinkle over artisan breads and baked in traditional form to coat the smooth dough, especially on whole wheat flat breads or artisan nutrition bars, such as alegrías.

Sesame oil is sometimes used as a cooking oil in different parts of the world.
Although sesame leaves are edible as a potherb, recipes for Korean cuisine calling for "sesame leaves" are often a mistranslation, and really mean perilla.


The word sesame is from Latin sesamum, borrowed from Greek sésamon "seed or fruit of the sesame plant", borrowed from Semitic (cf. Hebrew shumshum, Arabic simsim, Aramaic shūmshĕmā), from Late Babylonian *shawash-shammu, itself from Assyrian shamash-shammū, from shaman shammī "plant oil".

From all the 3 roots above, words with the generalized meaning “oil, liquid fat” are derived, e.g., Sanskrit taila . Similar semantic shifts from the name of an oil crop to a general word “fat, oil” are also known for other languages, e.g., “olive” has given rise to English “oil”.

In some languages of the Middle East, sesame is named differently and evolved from Middle Persian kunjid. This has also been borrowed into other languages — e.g., Russian kunzhut  and Yiddish kunzhut .

Brazilian Portuguese gergelim, Spanish ajonjolí, and Hindi gingli  derive from an Arabic noun jaljala  “sound, echo”, referring to the rattling sound of ripe seeds within the capsule.

In the Southern US and the Caribbean, where a form of the sesame seed was introduced by African slaves, it is known under the name benne  representing Wolof or Mande bene.

Upon ripening, sesame fruit capsules split, releasing the seeds with a pop. It has been suggested that this is root of the phrase "Open Sesame" in the historic fable of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves in One Thousand and One Nights. The opening of the capsule releases the treasure of Sesame seeds.


According to Assyrian legend, when the gods met to create the world, they drank wine made from sesame seeds.

In Hindu legends and beliefs, tales are told in which sesame seeds represent a symbol of immortality and the God Maha Vishnu's consort Maha Sri Devi herself representing the properties of the sesame seed, as such it is considered as the most auspicious oil next to ghee used in Hindu rituals and prayers.

In recent times, sesame seeds have become an ingredient in wiccan practices. Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Wicca in the Kitchen suggests their use to aid conception, to draw money, or for protection.


In the story of "Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves", the phrase "Open Sesame" magically opens a sealed cave. The origin of the phrase is unclear.

Sesame seeds are also used conceptionally in Urdu literature, in the proverbs "til dharnay ki jagah na hona"; meaning a place so crowded that there is no room for a single seed of sesame, and "in tilon mein teil nahee" ; referring to a person who appears to be useful but shan't be of much use (selfish) when the time comes, literally meaning: there is no oil (left) in this sesame.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Ginseng Cultivation

Scientific classification
Kingdom        : Plantae
(unranked)      : Angiosperms
(unranked)      : Eudicots
(unranked)      : Asterids
Order             : Apiales
Family            : Araliaceae
Subfamily       : Aralioideae
Genus            : Panax L.

Subgenus Panax
Section Panax
Series Notoginseng
Panax notoginseng

Series Panax

Panax bipinnatifidus

Panax ginseng(Asian or korean ginseng)

Panax ginseng (Panax quinquefolius or American ginseng) is a herb of broad-spectrum action, belongs to adaptogens or tonics.
Panax Ginseng (also commonly referred to as Asian or Korean Ginseng) is considered to be an adaptogen, a therapeutic and restorative tonic generally considered to produce a balancing effect on the body, and is believed to have anti-stress and endurance-enhancing effects. Panax Ginseng plant has been used for thousands of years in Traditional Chinese Medicine. The plant part used is the root and the active constituents are ginsenosides.

Panax japonicus
Panax quinquefolius(American ginseng)
Panax vietnamensis
Panax wangianus
Panax zingiberensis
Section Pseudoginseng
Panax pseudoginseng
Panax stipuleanatus

Subgenus Trifolius

Panax trifolius
ginseng roots
Ginseng (pronounced /ˈdʒɪnsɛŋ) is any one of eleven species of slow-growing perennial plants with fleshy roots, belonging to the genus Panax of the family Araliaceae.
Ginseng is found only in the Northern Hemisphere, in North America and in eastern Asia (mostly Korea, northern China (Manchuria), and eastern Siberia), typically in cooler climates. Panax vietnamensis, discovered in Vietnam, is the southernmost ginseng known. This article focuses on the Series Panax ginsengs, which are the adaptogenic herbs, principally Panax ginseng and P. quinquefolius. Ginseng is characterized by the presence of ginsenosides.
Siberian Ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus) is in the same family, but not genus, as true Ginseng. Like Ginseng, it is considered to be an adaptogenic herb. The active compounds in Siberian Ginseng are eleutherosides, not ginsenosides. Instead of a fleshy root, Siberian Ginseng has a woody root, (see below).


ginseng roots
The English word ginseng derives from the Chinese term rénshēn . Rén means "man" and shēn means a kind of herb; this refers to the root's characteristic forked shape, which resembles the legs of a man.The English pronunciation derives from a southern Chinese reading, similar to Cantonese yun sum  and the Hokkien pronunciation "jîn-sim".

The botanical/genus name Panax means "all-heal" in Greek, sharing the same origin as "panacea", and was applied to this genus because Linnaeus was aware of its wide use in Chinese medicine as a muscle relaxant.
Besides Panax ginseng, there are many other plants which are also known as or mistaken for the ginseng root. The most commonly known examples are Xiyangshen, also known as American Ginseng  (Panax quinquefolius), Japanese ginseng  (Panax japonicus), crown prince ginseng  (Pseudostellaria heterophylla), and Siberian ginseng  (Eleutherococcus senticosus). Although all have the name ginseng, each plant has distinctively different functions. However, true ginseng plants belong to the Panax genus.

How to Plant Cultivated Ginseng

ginseng plants in shades
ginseng roots
Ginseng root is commonly used in herbal remedies. Ginseng is a slow growing plant. It takes at least five years for the roots to reach maturity. The process to prepare Ginseng seeds for planting is difficult. Many gardeners choose to purchase stratified seeds from cultivators for planting. This
cultivated Ginseng seed is easier to plant than starting the process from an uncultivated seed. Ginseng should be planted in the fall prior to the ground freezing for the winter. The planting site should be in deep shade, such as underneath a tree.
1.Dig a half-inch deep hole for each Ginseng seed you are planting. The holes should be 6 inches apart from one another.

2.Place one seed in each hole.
3.Cover the holes back up with dirt.

4.Cover the entire area with 1 inch of mulch.

Tips & Warnings

Ginseng is low maintenance after it is planted. It can grow completely unattended once planted. The only difficult part is the stratification process, which is not needed when using cultivated Ginseng seeds.

How to Care for a Ginseng Plant

Known for its many medicinal properties, the ginseng plant has been cultivated and used for centuries--as far back as prehistoric times in China." Ginseng's supposed benefits--decreasing stress, ability to increase bodily endurance, and ability to protect cells against damage, among others--are still desirable today, and because of that, ginseng plants are grown all over the world. Ginseng can be difficult to cultivate, but more than anything else, a ginseng plant needs time to become fully mature and harvestable.


Choose a proper location. For a ginseng plant, this is critical to its success, whether planting it in the ground or keeping it in a pot. Ginseng thrives in dappled sunlight---its native habitat is the forest floor. Too much sun or shade will be prohibitive to the plant's success. Ginseng "requires 80 percent shade to thrive."

Make sure the soil is right for the plant. A soil pH of 5 to 6.5 is ideal. The precise composition of the soil is not as important, however, as the soil possessing two important properties: the ability to drain well and maintain moisture. Although these properties seem to be contradictory, they exist commonly beneath the detritus on the forest floor. If your plant is potted, it shouldn't be allowed to dry out--water it as regularly as necessary to keep it moist, but never soggy, because the root is susceptible to several types of root rot.

3.The needs of a ginseng plant are few if it has a good location (right light and soil). Given time--five to 10 years, to be precise--the plant's root should be large enough to harvest. If the plant is not in a woodland habitat, cover the top soil in late fall, adding a mulch to imitate the process in the forest. Keep weeds away from the plant to lessen chances for transference of fungal diseases.

Tips & Warnings
There are many threats to ginseng plants, including pests, diseases, small animals that dig them up, droughts or floods, and human ginseng hunters. It is  recommended that ginseng be cultivated on private property, and not near places known to be frequented by ginseng hunters. Also, higher-altitude regions are more successful ginseng-growing areas, simply because they are not as warm as lower-altitude regions.

Traditional uses

ginseng roots
Ginseng is a versatile medicinal plant, it help alleviate symptoms of insomnia and stress.
The Chinese made ginseng famous, it has been used in Chinese medicines for years. Just recently it has become familiar in the United States.

The ginseng plant is not easy to grow, the ginseng takes six years to grow. This is why it is an exceptional valuable plant. The plant can grow up to three feet tall, and is known for its odor and spicy taste.

The ginseng originated in Korea and China. In ancient times it could be found growing in the wild. It is now grown for commercial industry in China.

Both American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) and Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng) roots are taken orally as adaptogens, aphrodisiacs, nourishing stimulants, and in the treatment of type II diabetes, as well as for sexual dysfunction in men. The root is most often available in dried form, either whole or sliced. Ginseng leaf, although not as highly prized, is sometimes also used; as with the root, it is most often available in dried form.
This ingredient may also be found in some energy drinks, often the "tea" varieties; in these products, ginseng is usually present in subclinical doses and does not have measurable medicinal effects. It can be found in cosmetic preparations as well, but has not been shown to have clinically effective results.

Modern science and ginseng

ginseng roots
Ginsenosides are the active compounds that distinguish the Panax species, and the beneficial ginsenosides are contained in the fleshy portions of the plant.
There are many manufacturers of ginseng products who, knowingly or unknowingly, actually use counterfeit products or ginseng leaves instead of roots. Herbal companies who follow Good Manufacturing Practices  regularly test for the quality, potency, and species authentication of herbs using cross-sectional microscopic examination, thin layer chromatography, and high pressure liquid chromatography (HPLC). One study found HPLC is especially useful in the differentiation and authentication of Panax ginseng from Panax quinquefolius due to the unambiguous distinction of slightly varying isotypes of ginsenoside compounds.
Ginseng is noted for being an adaptogen, one which can, to a certain extent, be supported with reference to its anticarcinogenic and antioxidant properties. Some studies have found no adaptogen responses in animal studies (Survival test on mice swimming).

Many studies have been done with varying results using only ginseng extracts. However, when ginseng is used in combination with other traditional Chinese herbs, the synergistic effects had many more definitive and positive results. For example, Si Jun Zi Tang, a traditional Chinese formula, the main ingredient of which is ginseng, has been shown in multiple studies to have radioprotective effects, preventing a decrease in the hematocrit during radiotherapy.

In research, it has been difficult to either verify or quantify the exact medicinal benefits of ginseng using science, as there are contradictory results from different studies, possibly due to the wide variety and quality of ginseng used in the tests. High-quality studies of the effects of ginseng in the United States are rare. However, many high-quality, double blind, randomized controlled trials have been done in Asian countries, such as China, South Korea and Japan.

American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius), similar to Panax ginseng in that they both contain the active component ginsenoside, is distinguished in traditional Chinese medicine theory by having a cold property while the property of ginseng is warm. Japanese ginseng, though the same species as ginseng, is thought to have cooling properties similar to American ginseng due to the difference in cultivation environment.  American ginseng has been shown in various studies to have a beneficial effect for diabetes in the regulation of blood sugar levels.

A comparative, randomized and double-blind study at the National Autonomous University of Mexico indicated it may be "a promising dietary supplement" when assessed for an increase in quality of life.
A randomized, double-blind study showed that an extract of American ginseng reduced influenza cases in the elderly when compared to placebo.

A recent study at the University of Hong Kong has identified ginseng to have anti-inflammatory effects. The study found of the nine ginsenosides they identified, seven could selectively inhibit expression of the inflammatory gene CXCL-10.

P. ginseng appear to inhibit some characteristics associated with cancer in animal models; nevertheless, this effect is unclear in humans. A randomized, double-blind pilot study noted Ginseng appeared to reduce fatigue in cancer patients.

There are references in literature, including authoritative compendia, that show interactions with ginseng. Herbalist Jonathan Treasure of the British National Institute of Medical Herbalists traces the growth of misinformation on an alleged adverse herb-drug interaction between the monoamine oxidase inhibitor phenelzine and Asian ginseng (P. ginseng C.A. Meyer). This originally was mentioned in a 1985 editorial by Shader and Greenblatt in the Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology. Shader and Greenblatt devoted a couple of lines to the case of a 64-year-old woman who took an undisclosed dose for an undisclosed time of a dietary supplement product called "Natrol High" while concurrently taking phenelzine 60 mg qd. She experienced symptoms of "insomnia, headache, and tremulousness". Treasure contacted Natrol by e-mail and discovered within ten minutes that there was no P. ginseng in the formula, but instead Eleutherococcus senticosus which was then called by the popular name "Siberian ginseng", and it was given in a subclinical dosage mixed with a variety of other herbs. The purported interaction effects are well-known side effects of phenelzine alone, which had been given in a high dosage and are not at all suggestive of Eleutherococcus. However, this misinformed article with a misidentified herb has been picked up in literature searches and megastudies, and is now documented by conventional medical authorities, such as Stockley's, and is repeated in several botanical monographs, e.g. World Health Organization .

Ginseng and reproductive activity

A 2002 study by the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine (published in the annals of the New York Academy of Sciences) found that in laboratory animals, both Asian and American forms of ginseng enhance libido and copulatory performance. These effects of ginseng may not be due to changes in hormone secretion, but to direct effects of ginseng or its ginsenoside components on the central nervous system and gonadal tissues. In males, ginsenosides can facilitate penile erection. This is consistent with traditional Chinese medicine and Korean medicine medicinal uses of ginseng.

Ginseng is known to contain phytoestrogens. In some studies, ginseng has been demonstrated to have a stimulating effect on the pituitary gland to increase the secretion of gonadotropins. Another study found that in young mice, it speeds up the development of reproductive organs, while in adult male mice, it stimulates the production of sperm, and lengthens the estrus period in female mice.

Side effects

According to a Sports Nutrition FAQ published by UMass Amherst, one of P. ginseng's most common side effects is the inability to sleep. However, other sources state ginseng causes no sleep difficulties. Other side effects can include nausea, diarrhea, headaches, nose bleeds, high blood pressure, low blood pressure, and breast pain. Ginseng may also lead to induction of mania in depressed patients who mix it with antidepressants.

Ginseng has been shown to have adverse drug reactions with phenelzine and warfarin, but has been shown to decrease blood alcohol levels.


The common adaptogen ginsengs (P. ginseng and P. quinquefolia) are generally considered to be relatively safe even in large amounts. One of the most common and characteristic symptoms of acute overdose of Panax ginseng is bleeding. Symptoms of mild overdose with Panax ginseng may include dry mouth and lips, excitation, fidgeting, irritability, tremor, palpitations, blurred vision, headache, insomnia, increased body temperature, increased blood pressure, edema, decreased appetite, increased sexual desire, dizziness, itching, eczema, early morning diarrhea, bleeding, and fatigue.

Symptoms of gross overdose with Panax ginseng may include nausea, vomiting, irritability, restlessness, urinary and bowel incontinence, fever, increased blood pressure, increased respiration, decreased sensitivity and reaction to light, decreased heart rate, cyanotic (blue) facial complexion, red facial complexion, seizures, convulsions, and delirium.

Patients experiencing any of the above symptoms are advised to discontinue the herbs and seek any necessary symptomatic treatment.

Common classification

P. quinquefolius American ginseng (root)

According to traditional Chinese medicine, American ginseng promotes yin energy, cleans excess yang and calms the body. The reason it has been claimed that American ginseng promotes yin (shadow, cold, negative, female) while Asian ginseng promotes yang (sunshine, hot, positive, male) is because, according to traditional Chinese medicine, things living in cold places or northern side of mountains or southern side of rivers are strong in yang and vice versa, so that the two are balanced. Chinese/Korean ginseng grows in Manchuria and Korea, the coldest area known to many Koreans in ancient times. Thus, ginseng from there is supposed to be very yang.

Originally, American ginseng was imported into China via subtropical Guangzhou, the seaport next to Hong Kong, so Chinese doctors believed American ginseng must be good for yin, 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.

The two main components of ginseng are claimed to be in different proportions in the Asian and American varieties, and are speculated to be the cause of the excitatory versus tonic natures. The ginseng is traditionally hewn and a few slices are simmered in hot water to make a decoction.

Most North American ginseng is produced in the Canadian provinces of Ontario and British Columbia and the American state of Wisconsin, according to Agri-food Canada. P. quinquefolius is now also grown in northern China.

The aromatic root resembles a small parsnip that forks as it matures. The plant grows 6 to 18 inches tall, usually bearing three leaves, each with three to five leaflets two to five inches long.

Panax ginseng Asian ginseng (root)

Panax ginseng is available in four forms:
The form called fresh ginseng is the raw product.
The form called white ginseng (WG) is fresh ginseng which has been dried. It is grown for four to six years, and then peeled and dried to reduce the water content to 12% or less. White ginseng is air dried in the sun and may contain less of the therapeutic constituents. It is thought by some that enzymes contained in the root break down these constituents in the process of drying. Drying in the sun bleaches the root to a yellowish-white color.

The form called red ginseng (RG) is harvested after six years, is not peeled and is steam-cured at standard boiling temperatures of 100 °C (212 °F), thereby giving it a glossy reddish-brown color. Steaming the root is thought to change its biochemical composition and also to prevent the breakdown of the active ingredients. The roots are then dried. RG is more common as herbal medicine than WG, and there is increasing research on the pharmacological activities of RG specific ginsenoside.

The form called sun ginseng (SG) is created from a heat processing method which increases ginsenoside components such as ginsenoside-[Rg.sub.3], -[Rk.sub.1] and -[Rg.sub.5] by steaming white ginseng at a higher temperature than red ginseng. The herb is steamed for three hours at 120 °C (248 °F). Research has shown that SG has increased nitric oxide, superoxide, hydroxyl radical and peroxynitrite scavenging activities compared with conventionally processed RG or WG. The increased steaming temperature produces an optimal amount of biological activity due to its ability to amplify specific ginsenosides. Japanese researchers set out to investigate the antioxidant effect of SG on oxidative stress.

Red ginseng

Red ginseng (Hangul; Hanja; RR: hong-sam, simplified Chinese; traditional Chinese; pinyin: hóng sēn), is Panax ginseng that has been heated, either through steaming or sun-drying. It is frequently marinated in an herbal brew which results in the root becoming extremely brittle. This version of ginseng is traditionally associated with stimulating sexual function and increasing energy. Red ginseng is always produced from cultivated roots, generally from Korea.

In 2002, a preliminary double-blind, crossover study of Korean red ginseng's effects on impotence reported that it can be an effective alternative for treating male erectile dysfunction, during which 60% of study participants noted an improvement in ability to produce an erection.

Another study reported red ginseng reduced the relapse of gastric cancer versus control.

A study of ginseng's effects on rats found that while both white ginseng and red ginseng appear to reduce the incidence of cancer, the effects appear to be greater with red ginseng.

A study by Sung H, Jung YS, Cho YK. showed potentially beneficial effects of a combination of Korean red ginseng and highly active antiretroviral therapy in HIV-1-infected patients.

Falcarinol, a seventeen-carbon diyne fatty alcohol was isolated from carrot and red ginseng, and was thought to have potent anticancer properties on primary mammary epithelial (breast cancer) cells. Other acetylenic fatty alcohols in ginseng (panaxacol, panaxydol and panaxytriol) have antibiotic properties.

Wild ginseng

Wild ginseng is that which grows naturally and is harvested from wherever it is found to be growing. Wild ginseng is relatively rare, and even increasingly endangered, due in large part to high demand for the product in recent years, which has led to the wild plants being sought out and harvested faster than new ones can grow (it requires years for a root to reach maturity). Wild ginseng can be either Asian or American, and can be processed to be red ginseng.

There are woods-grown American ginseng programs in Maine, Tennessee, Virginia, North Carolina, West Virginia and Kentucky, and United Plant Savers has been encouraging the woods planting of ginseng both to restore natural habitats and to remove pressure from any remaining wild ginseng, and they offer both advice and sources of rootlets. Woods-grown plants have a value comparable to wild-grown ginseng of similar age.

Ginseng alternatives

These mostly "adaptogenic" plants are sometimes referred to as ginsengs, but they are either from a different family or genus. Only jiaogulan actually contains compounds closely related to ginsenosides, although ginsenosides alone do not determine the effectiveness of ginseng. Since each of these plants has different uses, one should research their properties before using.

Schisandra chinensis (five flavoured berry)
Gynostemma pentaphyllum (southern ginseng, jiaogulan)
Eleutherococcus senticosus (Siberian ginseng)
Pseudostellaria heterophylla (prince ginseng)
Withania somnifera (Indian ginseng, ashwagandha)
Pfaffia paniculata (Brazilian ginseng, suma)
Lepidium meyenii (Peruvian ginseng, maca) {Note: Maca has absolutely nothing to do with ginseng.}
Oplopanax horridus (Alaskan ginseng)

Other plants which are referred to as ginsengs may not be adaptogens (although notoginseng is in the genus Panax):

Angelica sinensis (female ginseng, dong quai)
Panax notoginseng (known as san qi, tian qi or tien chi, hemostatic ingredient in Yunnan Bai Yao)

Medicinal Uses of Ginseng

Ginseng has been used in herbal remedies for centuries .

Uses of Ginseng

ginseng drinks
Asian ginseng is used as a general tonic by modern Western herbalists as well as by traditional Chinese practitioners. It is thought to gently stimulate and strengthen the central nervous system in cases of fatigue, physical exertion, weakness from disease and injury, and prolonged emotional stress.
Ginseng's most widespread use is among the elderly. It is reported to help control diabetes, improve blood pressure and heart action, reduce cholesterol levels, and reduce mental confusion, headaches, and weakness among the elderly. Asian ginseng's affinity for the nervous system and its ability to promote relaxation makes it useful for stress-related conditions such as insomnia and anxiety.
ginseng cosmetics

Serious athletes may benefit from the use of Asian ginseng with improved stamina and endurance.

The Asian species also is reported to be a sexual tonic and aphrodisiac, useful in maintaining the reproductive organs and sexual desire into old age and to help prevent or reverse erectile dysfunction associated with prostate diseases or stress.
ginseng tea
Animal and human studies have shown Asian ginseng possibly reduces the occurrence of cancer: Ginseng preparations increase production of immune cells, which may boost immune function.

Ginseng contains many complex saponins, referred to as ginsenosides and panaxosides. Ginsenosides have been extensively studied and found to have numerous complex actions, including the following: They stimulate bone marrow production, stimulate the immune system, inhibit tumor growth, balance blood sugar, stabilize blood pressure, and detoxify the liver, among many other tonic effects. Ginseng also contains numerous other constituents, yet no one constituent has been identified as the most active.

In fact, many of the individual constituents have been shown to have opposite actions. Like all plant medicine, the activity is due to the sum total of all the substances.

Ginseng Preparations and Dosage

Due to the widespread and age-old use of ginseng, ways to prepare, ingest, and dose it abound, thus no single recommendation can be made. Ginseng is dried for teas, powdered and encapsulated, candied, tinctured, and made into concentrates and syrups.

Many herbalists recommend using ginseng in an on-and-off pattern of several weeks on and then a week or two off. Not only does ginseng seem more effective this way, but this regimen reduces the likelihood of overstimulation and side effects.

Gingseng Precautions and Warnings

Ginseng is one of the better-researched plants, and no serious toxicity has ever been reported. Many of the symptoms of toxicity associated with taking large doses of ginseng products (such as sleeplessness and irritability) can be traced to adulteration of the ginseng with the toxic herb aconite.

Due to its purported hormonal activity, ginseng should be avoided during pregnancy. Some cases of hypertension are aggravated by ginseng, while others are improved; consult an herbalist, naturopathic physician, or other practitioner trained in the use of herbal medicine for the use of ginseng in hypertension.

Side Effects of Ginseng

The Chinese consider the Asian species Panax ginseng a yang tonic, so it is not used in those who have what traditional Chinese medicine refers to as yang excess, or excess heat. This means that people who are warm or red in the face (such as menopausal women) or those who have high blood pressure or rapid heartbeat should not use Asian ginseng.

American ginseng is much better suited to this type of person. But conversely, American ginseng should not be used in those who are cold or pale or in those with a slow heartbeat. Possible side effects of Asian ginseng use include, curiously, some of the symptoms it is prescribed for: hypertension, insomnia, nervousness, and irritability. Acne and diarrhea are also occasionally reported.

Seek advice from an herbalist or naturopathic physician who can determine if ginseng is appropriate for you and, if so, can recommend an appropriate dose. Due to potential hormonal activity, Asian ginseng can promote menstrual changes and breast tenderness on occasion. The side effects caused by ginseng resolve quickly once the herb is discontinued.

Jennifer Brett, N.D. is director of the Acupuncture Institute for the University of Bridgeport, where she also serves on the faculty for the College of Naturopathic Medicine. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.Before engaging in any complementary medical technique, including the use of natural or herbal remedies, you should be aware that many of these techniques have not been evaluated in scientific studies. Use of these remedies in connection with over the counter or prescription medications can cause severe adverse reactions. Often, only limited information is available about their safety and effectiveness. If you plan to visit a practitioner, it is recommended that you choose one who is licensed by a recognized national organization and who abides by the organization's standards. It is always best to speak with your primary health care provider before starting any new therapeutic technique.