Ginseng: Facts and Folklore

The Chinese have used ginseng for thousands of years, believing that it ­enhances sexual performance, increases energy, and eases stress. Many Americans are skeptical, demanding scientific validation. Here are Eastern and Western perspectives on the herb that is purported to cure all.

Panax ginseng is available in many forms, several of which are shown at left. Counterclockwise, from the center: whole red ginseng root, with its humanlike shape; sliced red ginseng; ginseng tablets containing spirulina, a type of algae; a ginseng jar used to cook and soften the whole or sliced root; and small pieces of red ginseng root.