Siberian Ginseng

Botanical Name: Eleutherococcus senticosus Family: Araliaceae

Common name(s): Siberian Ginseng, Eleuthero Root, Devil’s Shrub | Purple (male) and yellow (female) flowers in early summer.


  • Shrub; perennial | Zone 3-8 | 8-15 feet tall | flowers (purple for male, yellow for female) bloom in early summer. Pollination is by bees | oval blue-ish black berries
  • Part shade – full sun | any soil | keep moist
  • Grows in thickets or clumps at the edge of the forest | propagate from seed


Berries are harvested in late summer. Bark is harvested in the spring. The bark is a stronger stimulant, and most of what I read refers to using the bark. The berries contain the essential oils, however. Leaves can be used for tea.


Siberian Ginseng is a tonic herb and is meant to be used over a period of time (not to exceed 6 weeks) during times of stress.

Decoction: add 20g dried or 40g fresh root to 3 cups cold water and bring to a boil. Boil for 20-30 minutes (will boil down to 2 cups liquid). Strain. Take 35ml 2x/day.

Tincture: Take 1/2 tsp with water 3x/day

Tablet/Powder: 0.2 – 1g 3x/day


Constituents: Eleutherosides, Essential oil, resin, starch, vitamin A

Actions: Adaptogen, antirheumatic, antispasmodicstimulanttonic

Uses: Low energy, increasing endurance, exhaustion, chronic illness recovery support, impotence

Cautions: Do not take for more than 6 weeks at a time.


Sweetish, acrid, warm



All the ginsengs seem to be hard to get established and take a long time to mature to harvest. But I have woods on my property, so I’m going to try. In one of these references, it says that regular ginseng and Siberian ginseng won’t grow next to each other, however. Something to keep in mind if you want to try, too. 

I have not used this herb yet, but I’m about to make a stimulant tonic tea using it.

Gotu Kola

Botanical Name: Centella asiatica, syn. Hydrocotyle asiatica Family: Apiaceae

Common name(s): Gotu Kola, Indian Pennywort


  • Perennial/Annual; herbaceous | Zone 8-11 | 6-8 inches tall | Greenish flowers sit underneath the leaves and bloom in early spring
  • Partial shade to full sun | Rich garden soil preferred | Likes moisture | Propagate via root divisions or layerings. Hard to grow from seed.
  • Common to India


In the tropics, harvest during the growing season. If growing indoors, harvest year round. (Aerial parts are harvested.)


Infusion: Take 35ml, 2x/day (dose for rheumatism)

Tincture: 30 drops with water, 3x/day

Powder: Use 1-2 gram/day with water as a tonic

External: mix 2 teaspoons powder with 25 ml water and apply to skin.

Food: Can be used like other leafy greens.

Caution: can sometimes cause sensitivity to sunlight


Constituents: Triterpenoid saponins, alkaloids, bitter principles

Actions: Adaptogen, anti-inflammatory, antirheumatic, sedative, mild diuretic, peripheral vasodilator, stimulant, tonic, wound healer

Uses: Repairing tissues (promotes healing, reduces scarring), leprosy, eczema and other skin disorders, tones and strengthens veins, helps body respond to stress, strengthens memory and concentration, rheumatism



I have no experience with this plant and had never even heard of it before my herbal studies. But it seems to be pretty powerful and diverse! Interested in learning more about it and if I ever get a greenhouse I will grow it!


Botanical Name: Panax Ginseng (and other Panax varieties) Family: Araliaceae

Common name(s): Ginseng

(for this and the harvesting section, I am going to focus on American Ginseng, since that’s the variety I would grow)

  • Perennial; herbaceous | Zone 3-7 | 4-24 inches tall, depending on maturity | prongs develop from a single stalk and have 3-5 leaflets. Mature plants have up to 5 prongs. Small, nondescript flowers turn to red fruit, which grow in a bunch.
  • Moderate to Deep shade (75-80% is ideal) | Moist, well-drained soil | North/East slopes are ideal | Grows where Jack-in-the-pulpit, wild sarsparilla, wild ginger, solomon’s seal, ferns, and jewelweed (among others) grow.


Rhizomes are harvested in autumn when at least 5 years old. Rings develop at the base of the stalk and indicate age. It is illegal to harvest ginseng before the red berries ripen and set seed.


Decoction: 1/2 teaspoon powdered root per cup of water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Drink 3x/day.

Powder: Use 1-2 gram doses in capsules or tablets

Note: Michael Tierra suggests using shiu chu (red ginseng) roots from China.


Constituents: Steroidal glycosides (panaxosides), sterols, essential oils, vitamin D, acetyleneic compounds

Actions: Adaptogen, alterative, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant,  stimulant, tonic

Uses: Improving mental clarity and physical performance (short term), male tonic (erectile disfunction and improving sperm count), stimulating the immune system, regulating blood sugar and cholesterol levels, normalizing blood pressure (specifically low blood pressure), anemia, stress and fatigue

Cautions: Take for a maximum of 6 weeks with a break of at least 2-3 weeks. Avoid while pregnant. Avoid caffeine when taking ginseng. Some varieties may cause headaches.


American ginseng is considered cool (yin), Asian ginseng is considered warm (yang).


  • Eastern/Central Medicinal Plants and Herbs Peterson Field Guide, Foster & Duke
  • Herbal Remedies, Andrew Chevallier
  • Holistic Herbal, David Hoffmann
  • The Complete Medicinal Herbal, Penelope Ody
  • The Way of Herbs, Michael Tierra
  • Temperate Climate Permaculture
  • photo credit: Forest Farming American Ginseng via photopin (license)

The variety indigenous to America is Panex quinquefolius. I’ll be looking for this beauty in my forest this year, but I’ve also ordered seeds which will come this fall. It is considered endangered in the wild, so I am happy to add it to the wild places on my property. 

Asian ginseng is considered more potent than American ginseng.