American vs Korean Red Ginseng: Benefits, Usage and Differences

5 min read


By Wing Joo Loong Team

Key Takeaways

  • Ginseng's unique key component, 'ginsenosides,' provides ginseng with health benefits like antioxidants and immune support.
  • Korean red ginseng, produced by steaming and drying raw Korean ginseng, enhances blood circulation and energy metabolism, making it ideal for those with Yang deficiency. Contrary to myths, it is a warm but not heaty herb.
  • With its cooling properties, American ginseng is used as a Yin tonic in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). It restores balance for those who have late nights or eat greasy, spicy, or fast foods.

Ginseng is a renowned herb that even beginners of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) would have heard its name. Once hailed as a 'miracle herb' for enhancing physical vitality, mental clarity and overall well-being, it was a treasure reserved for ancient royalty. 

Rooted in medicinal history for over two thousand years, ginseng is no stranger in today's health-conscious world. In this article, we explore the unique qualities of American ginseng and Korean red ginseng to find one that best aligns with your health goals and needs.

What sets them apart, and how can you seamlessly integrate these natural remedies into your daily life? Let's dive in.

Not all ginsengs are the same

Ginseng possesses a unique, active component called ‘ginsenosides’, which provides its health benefits, including antioxidant properties and immune system support.

The composition of ginsenosides varies, influenced by factors such as:

  • Ginseng species
  • Cultivation conditions and climate
  • Growth duration
  • Processing methods

Besides ginsenosides, ginseng also boasts other non-saponin active ingredients such as acidic polysaccharide, polyacetylene, phenolic compound, minerals and AFG amino sugar, further contributing to its rich array of benefits.[1]

Korean red ginseng, your vitality and immunity booster

Korean red ginseng slices on a chopping board

Korean red ginseng is produced by steaming and drying raw Korean ginseng (Panax ginseng). This process not only gives the herb its distinctive red hues but also enhances its safety and preservation.[2] Most notably, it increases its efficacy by gelatinisation of ginseng starch, resulting in higher ginsenoside content.[3]

In particular, Jung Kwan Jang uses only 6-year-old Korean red ginseng cultivated under stringent standards in native South Korea for maximum potency.

Benefits of Korean red ginseng

  • Strengthens immunity
  • Revitalises energy and recovers from fatigue
  • Reduces stress
  • Improves heart health
  • Promotes healthy blood circulation
  • Improves cognitive (memory) function
  • Supports skin health
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Improves antioxidant enzyme activities
  • Relieves menopausal symptoms

Some beginners may worry about Korean red ginseng being too 'heaty'. To debunk this misconception, let us touch briefly on energy properties and heatiness in TCM.

Korean red ginseng is warm but not heaty

Heatiness, in TCM terms, arises from an excessive buildup of heat in the body. Several dietary and lifestyle factors contribute to this, including the overconsumption of spicy, deep-fried, warming or alcoholic foods, late nights as well as inadequate water intake.

It is important to understand that our body's balance is not disturbed by the intake of a single herb alone. Instead, it's the sum of all parts, reflected in the overall balance of our diet and lifestyle.

In TCM, herbs are classified based on energy properties ranging from cold, cool, neutral, warm to hot. Korean red ginseng falls under the warm category.

While Korean red ginseng does have a "warmer" nature than other types of ginseng, it promotes blood circulation and energy metabolism by inhibiting the formation of blood clots and reducing blood lipids. The result of supplying energy to the body through circulation may leave a warm feeling on the skin, but Korean red ginseng does not actually raise the body’s core temperature.[4] Thus, it is not heaty.

So, what should beginners take note of when trying Korean red ginseng?

Singapore's warm climate and potentially rich dietary habits, including fast food and spicy foods, can affect how Korean red ginseng affects your body. New users can follow the following tips for the first month:

  • Start with half the recommended dosage for adults.
  • Take once every 2-3 days during the initial first month.
  • Drink at least 8 glasses of water daily and strive for a balanced diet.
  • Monitor how your body reacts before gradually progressing to the recommended daily dosage.

Who is Korean red ginseng suitable for?

Korean red ginseng is generally suitable for most individuals, and recommended for those with a Yang deficiency body type. Incorporating Korean red ginseng into your diet could be particularly helpful if you are sensitive to cold and prone to cold hands and feet or leg cramps.

American ginseng, your Yin tonic

Pieces of raw American ginseng

Originating from North America, American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) is cooling in nature and used as a Yin tonic in TCM. It can help restore the body’s Yin-Yang balance by alleviating conditions associated with excessive internal heat or dryness. These conditions might manifest as symptoms like persistent thirst, irritability, or feelings of warmth in the body.

Benefits of American ginseng

  • Stimulates the immune system
  • Boosts energy
  • Clears heat
  • Replenishes fluids in the body
  • Improves mental function
  • Calms the mind and relieves palpitations
  • Reduces insomnia and dream-disturbed sleep
  • Alleviates shortness of breath
  • Regulates blood sugar level
  • Soothes intestinal irritation

Who is American ginseng suitable for?

American ginseng is generally suitable for most individuals, and recommended for those with a Yin deficiency body constitution. It assists in restoring balance to the body of those who frequently experience late nights or indulge in deep-fried, greasy, spicy foods or fast food.

How to use ginseng root?


Now that you have a better understanding of these natural remedies, it is time to explore effective ways to use ginseng root. Ginseng is best consumed in the morning after breakfast, especially if you have low blood sugar or sensitive digestion. As you get used to it, you can experiment with the timing, such as taking it as a mid-day booster.

Ginseng is an incredibly versatile herb that can be easily consumed in numerous ways:

Visit any of our retail stores to discover your available options for American ginseng and Korean red ginseng.

Those looking for simple recipes to get started, check out our 6 easy Korean red ginseng dessert recipes and learn to whip up a delectable treat as quickly as 15 minutes. 

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The information above serves as a general guide only. Please consult a certified TCM practitioner should you require advice tailored to your specific health needs and concerns.

The information above serves as a general guide only. Please consult a certified TCM practitioner for a more accurate diagnosis and treatment.

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