At first look, the American ginseng root, with its gnarled shape, doesn't look appetizing, but it is touted as a powerful antioxidant and is known as an overall health booster. It's known in the medical world as an adaptogen, a substance that strengthens the body and brings it back into balance after long periods of stress. American ginseng is available in capsule, tincture and liquid form at health food stores. Try and get your hands on a fresh or dried root, too. Follow the steps below to learn how to use the American ginseng root.

Make ginseng tea. Slice up a fresh or dried root. Boil 4 cups of water in a saucepan. Put 2 oz. of sliced root in water, and reduce heat. Let simmer for 2 hours. Tea can be taken two to four times a day. Add honey to cut the bitter taste. If fresh root isn't available, health food stores usually carry packaged ginseng tea. Simply boil up water and steep the tea bag following package instructions.

Prepare a soup. Samgyetang, or chicken ginseng soup, is a traditional Korean dish that is packed with nutrients. You'll need 1 whole small chicken with skin removed, 1/2 cup sweet rice, 10 cloves of garlic, 6 jujubes, 1 knob of ginger and 6 slices of fresh or dried ginseng root. Rinse the chicken and be sure all skin is removed. Stuff the cavity of the chicken with the sweet rice and garlic cloves. Using a thread and needle, sew up the opening, but be sure it's not too tight. The rice will be cooking inside of the bird, so water needs to get inside. Put the chicken in a large pot. Add the rest of the remaining ingredients, including the sliced ginseng. Fill the pot with water until the chicken is covered. Boil for 90 minutes.Serve hot.

Take a capsule or tincture. Check your local health food store for American ginseng capsules or tincture. Or take 1 to 2 g a day, always with a full glass of water. You can dilute the ginseng tincture directly in the water, or put it on your tongue. You can also mix it in your ice tea or lemonade if you wish.

Dry the fresh root for future use. If you get fresh ginseng root, it's best to dry it out so it doesn't go bad or get moldy. Then you can use the dried ginseng all year. Place ginseng roots on wire racks or netted shelves in a heated, airy room. For the first 3 days, dry the roots at between 65 and 80 degrees F. Turn the roots frequently. Increase the heat to 90 degrees F gradually for the next month. Keep turning the roots. When they are dried out, store them in a dry, sealed container at around 34 degrees F or just above freezing.


American ginseng root has many known benefits. It's been studied widely and is known to boost immunity and strengthen libido. For diabetics, ginseng is known to help reduce spikes in blood sugar after meals. Ginseng is also known to reduce undesirable symptoms during menopause, and benefit those with cancer and Alzheimer's disease.


Taking ginseng in large amounts might be toxic, so follow package or doctor's instructions. Taking American ginseng root has reported side effects, including high blood pressure, insomnia, restlessness and anxiety. Contact your physician if you decide to take ginseng root as a supplement. It might cause more side effects if taken in combination with other medications. It's suggested that regular ginseng dosage for a month is followed by a 2-week break before starting again.