Canada's North American Ginseng

Panax quinquefolius

North American Ginseng (NAG), known by the scientific name Panax quinquefolius, is a species that is native to the hardwood forests of eastern Canada and north eastern US region. Canada is currently the largest producer of the NAG in the world. The majority of production is from Simcoe area of Ontario and the balance is mainly produced in British Columbia. The NAG is also grown in Wisconsin, USA, and the northeast and north of China.

Canadian NAG is unequalled in quality, taste and aroma. Since the 18th century, Ontario ginseng has been primarily exported to China where it is highly valued for its perceived superior quality and sweeter taste. Today, about 3,000 tonnes of Canadian ginseng roots are exported to China and other Asian markets annually.

Obtain the Canadian NAG advantage

Canadian NAG and Asian ginseng differ in their chemical composition and each appears to have distinct biological effects. From a traditional Chinese medicine point of view, the Chinese perceive NAG to be more "yin" – meaning it is used to reduce "heat" in the body. Alternatively, Asian ginseng is thought to be more "yang" – meaning it is used to raise "heat" in the body.1

Your Health and Canadian NAG

Canadian NAG was an important medicine for the people of the First Nations. It has been taken to relieve stress, to help with digestive problems, energy problems, to strengthen mental abilities, and to treat the entire body system. Whether taken as a supplement, tonic or tea, Canadian NAG has been safe and effective when used appropriately. According to the Ontario Ginseng Growers Association and Dr. Edmund Lui, recent research conducted by scientists from the Ontario Ginseng Innovation Research Consortium, which was funded by the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation, have provided pre-clinical evidence supporting the effectiveness of Ontario grown NAG as multi-action herbs. NAG has a wide range of activities, such as anti-oxidative, anti-inflammatory, immune-stimulatory, and antibacterial activities. Also, NAG has benefits in cardiovascular health (vascular injury, heart attack and heart failure), stress, erectile dysfunction, diabetes complications, obesity and metabolic syndrome. In addition, this research has also revealed some of the mechanisms underlying the health benefits of ginseng.2

Ensuring Safety, Quality and Traceability

The Ontario Ginseng Growers Association has taken an active role in the development of the Good Agriculture Practices (GAP) Program for their growers. Approved by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, the GAP Program provides tools to growers to assess on-farm food safety risks and to implement practices to eliminate them. It was built on HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point) principles. The GAP Program will offer buyers additional assurance that growers have planted and harvested their roots for what they were intended, and not cross-contaminated with other species, or with ginseng grown elsewhere. It will provide product traceability and ensure proper management of pest control products. Under the GAP Program, on-farm food safety practices will be documented and producers will be audited periodically by external auditors recognized by the Agency. The majority of growers are now trained and ready to be certified. Canadian ginseng growers are poised to respond new food safety, quality assurance and traceability demands of international buyers.

Canada's Environmental Advantages

Canada's clean water and minimal pollution helps to ensure the high quality of Canadian ginseng. Ongoing agronomic research enables growers to use biological controls; and recent disease control research has led to the identification of products that will not only reduce the risk of plant disease in Canadian ginseng, but will reduce the environmental risk as well, ensuring agriculture is sustainable in the future. In addition, Canada is concerned about the conservation of NAG and has rules concerning trade in NAG to ensure that trade does not threaten the continued wild existence of this species in Canada. As such, trade in North American Ginseng from Canada requires CITES export permits.3

For more information on our products, our agricultural practices or learn more about Canadian NAG's health benefits, please visit:

Government website

Industry website


1. www.ginsengontario.com/mediafiles/pdfs/Ginseng_nervous.pdf

2. Dr. Lui , Ed, Ontario Ginseng Innovation Research Consortium, Scientific Director, Pre-Clinical & Safety Leader. Personal interview. 07 June, 2011. www.ginsengontario.com/wellness/index.php?id=12&layid=2

3. CITES is the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, and more information on CITES trade in ginseng in Canada is available at www.ec.gc.ca/cites/default.asp?lang=En&n=8A26C423-1.


Trade Statistics

The following tables represent Canada's total trade in a given export commodity based on Statistics Canada data. The product categories represent HS code groupings and have not been modified. In most cases, statistics have been presented at the 6 or 8 digit level. Statistics are presented in Canadian dollars and are complete through year end 2010.

Canada's Exports to All Countries (HS Code 121120) - ($CAD)
  2007 2008 2009 2010 Growth 2007-2010
Ginseng roots used primarily in pharmacy, perfume, insecticide, fungicide or similar purposes 91,677,052 70,219,771 95,304,181 116,213,263 26.8%
Canada's Exports to All Countries (HS Code 121120) - (Quantity, KGM)
  2007 2008 2009 2010 Growth 2007-2010
Ginseng roots used primarily in pharmacy, perfume, insecticide, fungicide or similar purposes 2,886,311 2,670,497 3,430,799 3,021,894 4.7%
Canada's Monthly Exports to All Countries
(HS Code 121120, Value $CAD)
Month 2007 2008 2009 2010
Jan 21,813,784 8,391,976 14,153,517 14,013,078
Feb 8,535,063 3,913,538 11,683,853 5,434,207
Mar 4,783,718 1,439,459 8,049,634 2,060,068
Apr 3,409,045 4,828,887 5,383,299 2,764,629
May 3,234,374 5,615,583 1,959,554 6,177,870
Jun 1,530,701 5,132,003 2,096,888 4,807,327
Jul 3,541,658 4,892,977 1,882,541 3,639,779
Aug 4,635,660 3,924,145 3,361,899 1,474,687
Sep 1,140,890 3,348,249 543,080 4,368,093
Oct 1,539,960 795,850 2,899,460 6,516,439
Nov 3,042,533 5,211,435 5,569,501 15,438,818
Dec 34,469,666 22,725,669 37,720,955 49,518,268
TOTAL 91,677,052 70,219,771 95,304,181 116,213,263
Canada's Exports to All Countries by Province
(HS Code 121120, Value $CAD)
Province 2007 2008 2009 2010
Alberta 0 0 20,344 95,090
British Columbia 7,639,949 5,262,030 4,899,304 3,289,113
Ontario 84,031,329 64,954,497 90,030,482 112,826,511
Prince Edward Island 0 0 353,232 0
Québec 5,774 3,244 819 2,549
Canada's Top 10 Ginseng Markets
(HS Code 121120, Value $CAD)
Country 2007 2008 2009 2010 Growth 2007-2010
TOTAL: 91,677,052 70,219,771 95,304,181 116,213,263 26.8%
Hong Kong 84,936,148 62,249,617 87,929,355 111,800,366 31.6%
United States 1,984,295 2,019,463 1,724,323 2,169,136 9.3%
Taiwan 396,086 556,664 952,824 1,254,883 216.8%
Singapore 543,180 619,353 1,038,503 680,913 25.4%
Malaysia 51,997 19,998 38,145 104,006 100.0%
Serbia 0 0 0 95,090 -
China 1,486,156 3,851,977 3,594,445 75,460 -94.9%
Iran 15,888 2,813 0 24,060 51.4%
Vietnam 0 0 0 9,200 -
Saint Pierre and Miquelon 5,774 0 0 149 -97.4%