American Ginseng a Genuine Traditional Chinese Medicine


  • Josef Brinckmann Traditional Medicinals, Inc., Sebastopol, CA (USA)
  • Linfang Huang Institute of Medicinal Plant Development (IMPLAD) Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences (CAMS), Beijing,People’s Republic of China (PRC)


Daodi , Chemoecotype , Native American Medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine


Commercial scale wild collection of American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) roots by Indigenous Peoples for export trade to China formally began in 1718 CE in Montreal. In the 300 years since, this native North American species firmly became part of the Chinese Materia Medica. To this day, nearly all North American ginseng is exported to China (>97% of Canada’s 2015 export volume). Although there is historical record of relatively minor use in Native American medicine systems of tribes of Canada and United States, and some incorporation of use into 19th century American systems of medicine such as Thomsonian medicine and Eclectic medicine, respectively, traditional Chinese medicine is the only codified system of medicine wherein the qualities and therapeutic actions and indications of American ginseng are presently classified in a national pharmacopoeia and therapeutic compendium. Cultivation of American ginseng in the People’s Republic of China first began in 1947 but did not reach commercial scale until about 1980. Today, the Chinese medicine concept of ‘daodi’ (geo-authentic crude drugs) is even applied to American ginseng that is cultivated in certain locations in China by certain ‘traditional methods’. While cultivated American ginseng roots of all three production regions (Canada, China, and United States) are used therapeutically in Chinese medicine practice, daodi herbal medicine researchers in China are studying their differences, i.e. composition and quality variation and ecological adaptation of P. quinquefolius from different producing areas towards determining optimal site selection and production methods for cultivation of a Chinese medicine quality of American ginseng in China.