A Comparision: Chinese Ginseng, Codonopsis, American Ginseng & Siberian Ginseng

There are many types of Ginseng, and they all have fairly different properties. The two most famous types of Ginseng are American and Chinese.  First off, American Ginseng (Xi Yang Shen) and Chinese Ginseng (Ren Shen) are sort of opposites in the Ginseng world even though they are in the same plant genus (Panax), because the American version is cooling and the one from China is warming. This makes a huge difference.

Another close relative is Siberian Ginseng (Ci Wu Jia), which is mildly related to Chinese and American Ginseng because they are in the same plant family, but they do not share the same genus.

‘Ren Shen’ Chinese Ginseng

Chinese Ginseng (Ren Shen) can be further divided into two types: White Ginseng (Bai Ren Shen) and Red Ginseng (Hong Ren Shen).  They differ in that Red Ginseng is steamed prior to drying (either sun-dried or by heat). This action makes Red Ginseng warmer in nature, thus more useful for treating patterns of Yang and Qi deficiency. Korean Ginseng is treated this way and is generally stronger than Chinese Ginseng.

Wild Ginseng and Mountain Ginseng are very expensive because they are not cultivated. Wild, mountainous plants are stronger in nature than cultivated plants.

Codonopsis (Dang Shen) is not related to ginseng but is a good ‘neutral’ substitute for warming ginseng, especially when a mild qi tonic is indicated.

Ginseng Neck is a mild emetic (induces vomiting) used for food stagnation and phlegm excess. Ginseng Leaf is used to treat Summer Heat and thirst.


Ren Shen

Panax ginseng

Dang Shen

Codonopsis (not in the ginseng family)

Xi Yang Shen

Panax quincefolium

Ci Wu Jia

Acanthopanax senticosus

Ginseng Codonopsis American Ginseng Siberian Ginseng
Slightly warm, sweet, slightly bitter Neutral, Sweet Cold, sweet, slightly bitter Warm, acrid, slightly bitter
Lung, Spleen Lung, Spleen Heart, Kidney, Lung Heart, Spleen, Kidney
Powerfully Tonifies Primal Qi, and ST & SP Qi Tonifies the Middle and Augments the Qi Benefits the Qi, Nourishes the Yin Tonifies the SP/ST Qi to Aid TX/TX Function
Generates Fluids to Stop Thirst Generates Fluids
Tonifies Lung Qi Tonifies the Lungs
Supports Qi while using surface-releasing herbs Nurtures Lung Yin & Clears Heat from the Lung Warms the Kidney to Aid the Yang in Warming the Spleen
Benefits Heart Qi to Calm Spirit Augments the Heart Qi to Calm the Spirit
Invigorates the Blood & Unblocks the Collaterals
Contra: steaming bone, bleeding d/t Heat, Liver Yang Rising, Constraint Fire, other stimulants Contra: Cold Damp Obstruction Contra: Heat or Yin Deficiency

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  1. Thanks for this info, Lana. It sent me off on an investigation of Codonopsis which I have seen in many formulas I have taken. It seems that it does have slightly different chemical constituents fron Ren Shen, and is favored for its mild nature.

    Comment by Jodi Host — May 31, 2013 @ 8:07 pm

  2. Only a ѕmiling visitant here to share the love (:
    , btw great layout.

    Comment by Visualization House — September 29, 2014 @ 1:27 am

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