In Chinese culture true balance is achieved by aligning the two complementary forces in the universe; the yin and yang. The yin is the female, negative, or cold force. The yang is masculine, positive, and warm. Everything, including medicinal herbs, can be categorized as either yin or yang. By this philosophy, American ginseng, (panax quinquefolium), would promote yin and Asian ginseng, (panax ginseng), would promote yang. While they have the same active ingredients, ginsenosides and panaxosides, they are said to affect the body in different ways.
American ginseng is said to promote yin due to its cooling properties. It has been used to reduce fevers, treat heat exhaustion, and to quench thirst. As the yin is also the female force, American ginseng is believed to reduce the severity of menopausal symptoms and improve fertility. American ginseng is soothing and can help to prevent insomnia and reduce the effects of stress. Though both American and Asian ginseng support cardiovascular health, American ginseng is said to be the better choice for reducing and regulating high blood pressure. The export of American ginseng root to China is a very lucrative trade in the U.S. and Canada as the yin benefits are not found in the Asian variety.
By contrast, Asian ginseng is warming and stimulating. It is said to improve performance, thinking, work efficiency, physical stamina, and athletic endurance. It is said to boost the immune system and fight infections caused by Psuedomonas bacterium. Asian ginseng tea has been used to warm cold feet and hands and increase blood flow to the extremities. The masculine qualities of the yang make Asian ginseng the better choice for male virility and sexual performance. Due to its stimulating affects, taking large quantities of Asian ginseng may cause insomnia.
Because both types of ginseng have the same active ingredients, they can have an affect on the same human conditions. For example, both American and Asian ginseng has shown promise in the treatment of type II diabetes and regulating blood sugar levels. They are both considered beneficial to the nervous and endocrine systems as well as brain function and are both used to benefit the reproductive system. Each may be used as an overall tonic to achieve and maintain physical well being, enhance mood, and improve cognitive functions like memory and concentration, the key difference being, American ginseng is used for relaxation while Asian ginseng is used for stimulation.