Day 199: Dwarf Ginseng

Unlike it’s much rarer brother Panax quinquefolius or American Ginseng, the dwarf ginseng, which can be used in many of the same ways, is much more abundant.

You’re not likely to find many energy drinks made from the Dwarf Ginseng, as it’s active chemical properties aren’t nearly as strong as that of Panax quinquefolius, but this plant has been used in traditional medicine for centuries.

It was traditionally used as a medicine by the Cherokee, Iroquois, and Ojibwa Nations, as well as by many settler healers who most likely learned the benefits of the plant from the indigenous peoples.

Dwarf Ginseng is native to much of the eastern US and up into Canada (see map below) and although it doesn’t grow much in the Ozarks, traditional knowledge of this plant as well as Panax quinquefolius was brought here by settlers from the Appalachians and the Arkansas Cherokee.

Here are some medicinal uses of the plant:

Chewed for headaches. Infusion used for chest pains, rheumatism, stomach issues, and colic. Cold infusion of crushed roots given for fainting and shortness of breath.

It’s also an ingredient in the Cherokee healing formulas numbers 2 and 82  for headaches, and 24 for pains in the breast from the “Swimmer Manuscript” by James Mooney and Frans M. Olbrechts. In Cherokee P. trifolius and P. quinquefolius both receive the name “ataligvli” ᎠᏔᎵᎬᎵ (forgive me, Cherokee speakers, if that transcription is incorrect) meaning “he climbs the mountain”.

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