NZ Lifestyle Block

What's so special about ginseng?


Ginseng is used worldwide as a tonic, food, and in products, including teas, milk, honey, capsules, candy, and cosmetics.

Its main active ingredient­s are saponins, called ginsenosid­es, which are found almost exclusivel­y in Panax species.

A 2019 study by a team of scientists from Massey University found that ginseng grown in NZ forests had double the levels of ginsenosid­es as the same species grown in China and Korea, a big boost for the industry here. A separate study, also by Massey University, found high levels of ginsenosid­es in the leaves too.

Although ginseng is probably the beststudie­d herb globally, there's not enough research yet to make substantiv­e or precise medical claims. It's bought by people to promote their overall health, rather than anything specific.

Studies show it may relieve pain, and is linked to sharper cognition, tumour prevention, enhanced immune system function, and has anti-diabetic, anti-fatigue, anti-stress, anti-oxidative, and anti-ageing effects.

Glen says Chinese consumers use ginseng as a health insurance policy, especially in autumn and early winter. Data supplied by NZ Trade and Enterprise showed that ginseng sales spiked in China in mid-2020 in response to Covid-19.

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