The term ginseng comes from the Chinese word meaning “man root,” because the root’s forked shape makes it appear humanlike.
What it is: Ginseng is a slow-growing perennial herb with a fleshy root.
Where it comes from: Asian ginseng grows in Eastern Asia, mostly in China and Korea. Wild American ginseng grows in the Eastern half of North America, but over-harvesting has led to cultivated ginseng crops, which are not as valuable.
Properties: The root is light tan and gnarled, and is usually dried and sold sliced or whole. The active ingredient of the root is ginsenosides, which helps revitalize and reactivate epidermal cells. It also contains saponins, mucin, and vitamin B.
What it’s good for: Ginseng aids in diminishing wrinkles and helps dry skin. It is said to aid in increasing skin elasticity, and helps in rejuvenating, oxygenating, and stimulating the skin. Historically known as the cure-all for many ailments, ginseng is thought to balance and normalize body functions, boost the immune system and energy levels, and lower blood sugar.
Where you’ll find it: On the beauty side, ginseng can be found in facial products, lotions and creams, and hair care products. Its extract can also be found in teas, energy supplement pills, and herbal capsules.
Other uses: Ginseng has been shown in some cases to help stimulate hair growth.