The History of Ginseng

History of Ginseng
History of Ginseng

While the popularity of ginseng has only gone mainstream in the last decade or so, the history of ginseng dates back more than five thousand years. Discovered in the Manchuria mountains of Northern China, the best guess is that it was initially used for food, since edible plants were a rarity in those mountain ranges. The first proof of any medicinal purposes behind ginseng weren’t actually recorded until around three thousand years ago. With the first claims stating that ginseng gave power to the soul, while expelling evils, they also had the belief that the roof of a ginseng plant looked similar to the shape of the human body.

The history of ginseng indicates that the reason it became so popular as a plant for sale was that Chinese emperors often found the plant literally sacred and would consider its value literally that of gold. The ginseng farming industry quickly sprawled up. In fact, the demand for Chinese ginseng was so great that Korea saw the opportunity to turn it into an export business for themselves in the year 400 or so. Regardless of how many farms were available however, the ginseng industry was wiped clean inside of a few decades, and the industry folded. About 1200 years later, Korea became one of the first countries to experiment with cultivating the plant.

In regards to American ginseng, the powerful plant was used by the Menomonee, Cherokee and Iroquois Indians for hundreds of years. It wasn’t until the 1700’s that American settlers would discover the value of ginseng, and just before the 19th century, America had one of its first export businesses. Within 50 years, nearly 500,000 pounds of ginseng roots were exported to Asia. There would once again be a repeat of the Asian dry out, as America’s natural ginseng growth quickly disappeared.

Today, it has been concluded that Ginseng will only grow in very specific climate ranges. While Korea and China can still grow some ginseng, Wisconsin is known to have the best climate conditions to create actual cultivation of the plant. It is considered to be the "home of the World’s Finest Ginseng Root" today.

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