Here's What You Need to Know About Ginseng – and Why to Take It

NuTraditions Good Morning Sunshine adaptogen + coffee with ginseng

From the first sip of our Good Morning Sunshine™ coffee + adaptogens, you can taste there’s something special about it. Whether you brew a pod of the Colombian or Guatemalan version, the coffee is USDA Certified Organic, Fair Trade-certified and super delicious. And that little something extra? That floral, spicy finish? That’s ginseng.

Specifically, that’s our organic red ginseng extract. This revered herb is right at home in your A.M. routine, especially when it’s in a format expertly designed to work for your busy modern life. It’s how every pod of Good Morning Sunshine™ coffee + adaptogens helps you fight fatigue with more than just caffeine – and it’s why your morning cup of coffee can also deliver immune support and adaptogenic benefits (to combat stress) at the touch of a button!*

a person enjoying a cup of coffee while reading on a couch

Known as the King of Adaptogens, ginseng is a potent herb that’s highly valued in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Ginseng has been used for millennia in TCM to support health and well-being in numerous ways.

Ginseng is also classified as an adaptogen, part of a category of herbs that can support your mind and body as they adapt to stress.* Traditionally, ginseng is consumed as a tea or decoction, meaning the herb is simmered for a long time in water. But when you need to fight fatigue, experience sustained energy and stress less, spending all day simmering herbs is likely not a feasible activity. That’s why we deliver all the adaptogenic benefits of this traditional herb in a convenient coffee pod.*

Learn more about ginseng – and why ours is so good.

What is Ginseng?

There are two common plants known as ginseng: Asian ginseng, or Panax ginseng, and American ginseng, or Panax quinquefolius. In the wild, American ginseng is a threatened plant in many states. A lot of companies have stopped selling products made with American ginseng due to the conservation issues.

We only use Asian ginseng, which has a long history of use in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Panax ginseng is this plant’s Latin name, and it’s called Ren Shen in TCM. It also goes by the common names Chinese ginseng, Korean ginseng (also known as insam), red ginseng and white ginseng.

The root is the part most commonly used in TCM and western herbalism, but the leaves are also beneficial in their own way.

red ginseng

In TCM, ginseng is used:

  • To manage physical stress*
  • To support physical stamina*
  • To promote concentration*
  • To support immune system function*
  • To promote healthy aging and longevity*
  • As a tonic herb, meaning it helps support overall well-being.*

Different Types of Ginseng – and What Makes Ours Special

As you might have read, not all herbal preparations are created equal: Certain formats are better for herbal supplements. That is especially true for ginseng root, which is one of the most expensive and valued herbs on the planet! We use a proprietary organic red ginseng extract in Good Morning Sunshine™ coffee pods.

The fresh root would be impractical (and that’s not how the herb is really used traditionally), and simply adding sliced or ground dried ginseng wouldn’t maximize its benefits.

We use a thick liquid herbal extract, which helps infuse the optimal amount of beneficial components into each cup. These compounds, called phytonutrients/phytochemicals, are different in every plant. Ginseng’s unique phytochemicals are called ginsenosides or panaxosides. To get to those ginsenosides, we first have to extract them from within the cell walls of the tough roots.

Let’s back up a few steps: Freshly harvested Asian ginseng starts out brownish or off-white. What’s known as “white ginseng” is Asian ginseng that’s been peeled and dried but not heated.

Red ginseng has been steamed and dried, and it takes on a reddish color. This has two benefits: First, it unlocks more of the good stuff, and it also helps preserve the roots.

You can find sliced or whole ginseng roots at herbal shops, Asian markets and online, to make ginseng tea, infusions and other preparations. In South Korea and China, for example, ginseng root and other beneficial herbs (like goji berries or jujubes) are key ingredients in certain chicken soups.

But when you make ginseng tea or infused broths, it takes hours to extract those beneficial compounds. Even if you use a specific amount of ginseng every time, you can’t control the dosage or the potency the way you can with an extract. We also test our extracts to make sure you’re getting a potent dose every single time.

With an herb that’s cheap and easy to grow at home – like mint or lemon balm – or one that’s in every supermarket – like ginger or turmeric – it’s not a huge loss if you experiment with DIY options. But ginseng is a rare, more valued herb, so it’s more imperative that you opt for a format that has been processed. You need to know it’s potent and giving you what you expect!

ginseng field

How We Grow Ginseng

Beyond the extraction process, ginseng also requires extra care as it grows. Ginseng is a plant that’s very slow-growing. (We’re talking years!) In the wild it prefers cooler mountainous habitats across China, parts of Russia and the Korean peninsula. But, like American ginseng, wild Asian ginseng is endangered, so the herb is commonly cultivated.

Ginseng is slow to germinate – you have to wait until the second spring after the plant bears fruit. Then, those seeds take a long time to “wake up” – they need warm and cold weather and a damp environment.

As a root herb, ginseng spends most of its life in the ground, making the quality of the soil extra important. (We recommend always choosing organic ginseng or any root.) We grow our USDA Certified Organic red ginseng ourselves, on land we control and monitor.

We use a managed forest plan and “virgin” soil, where ginseng has never been grown before. We create a virtuous cycle that nourishes the soil and helps reforest the hillsides in China’s beautiful Changbai Mountains, where future crops of our ginseng can continue to flourish.

Root crops demand a lot of nutrients from the soil (again, this is why organic growing practices matter so much!). After the ginseng is harvested, the soil is depleted so we use that land to grow trees. Over time, the trees replenish the soil and the process starts over again.

We plant tens of thousands of trees, including Larix gmelinii (Rupr.) Kuzen, Pinus koraiensis Sieb and Picea koraiensis Nakai, which provide shade cover for our ginseng as it grows.

So that’s it – that’s the high-quality, potent ginseng you get in every single cup of Good Morning Sunshine™ coffee + adaptogens.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.