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The root of the slow-growing ginseng plant has been used in Korean and Chinese herbal medicine for thousands of years, and today the therapeutic qualities of ginseng are prized the world over. American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) is an understory plant found in the eastern deciduous forest of the United States and in southern Québec and Ontario in Canada.1 The plant and root were used by various Native North American tribes.2 American ginseng has been harvested and exported to Asia for over 300 years, ever since a Jesuit priest named Joseph Francis Lafitau found ginseng plants growing near Montreal, Canada in 1716. Today, wild ginseng roots are still exported to Asia, where the best quality roots can sell for hundreds of dollars per pound.
Learn the laws regulating ginseng production and harvesting in your country. Obtain any necessary permits or licenses. Ginseng has declined considerably since European settlement in North America primarily due to over-harvest of wild roots and loss of habitat.