The most prized ginseng
is grown in the United States
on the East Coast
, giving it the name hua qi xin
, or "herb from the country with the flowery flag" (yep, that's what we think of your flag). That's a nickname, the real name is ren sheng
, meaning "root of heaven".
Used more for prevention of illness than cure, ginseng is supposed to promote the senses, learning and memory, making it particularly popular with Asian parents who were concerned with their kids' academic performances. My mom used to feed me this stuff before major exams, with no effects whatsoever. By itself, ginseng smells nice, but when made into a soup it tastes absolutely horrid, with a very bitter aftertaste. Didn't discourage people from consuming it, especially old people, because they thought it made them live longer.
Scientific research shows ginseng chemically increases certain hormone levels and induces a very mild state of mental arousal. Sexual prowess is completely unproven, academic achievement drew a similar blank. My parents ignored this, and they still feed me the noxious brew every chance they get.
The recent Western fad has created a plethora of nasty "health drinks" all with ginseng labelled in huge letters. From taste, you can tell they contain very little ginseng, if any at all, and the makers are just exploiting the gullible health-freaks that are everywhere in America today. Narf.