Growing acceptance of oriental herbal and alternative medicine pushes global ginseng market value to US$2.08 billion


With a market value exceeding US$1.14 billion, Korea is the world’s largest ginseng market. Korea Agro-Fisheries and Food Trade Corp. promoteshealthy Korean food through Korean Pavilion at the Expo 2020

A growing acceptance for oriental herbal medicine, alternative medicine and healthy food is driving the demand for ginseng extracts and products that has a global market value estimated to be worth more than US$2.08 billion, according to industry reports.

Ginseng is derived from plant ginseng, considered to be an adaptogenic plant. These are commonly referred to as an adaptogen, which resists biological, physical, and chemical stress and increases general vitality. It is famous for health benefits – keeping consumers fit, healthy with a long life.

Hyouk Kim, Director for Korean Agro Trade Center Dubai, says, “Ginseng is an essential part of the Korean diet and lifestyle. It keeps a person fit, energetic and its medicinal value helps combat cancer, diabetes and other disease and extend life span.

“The world can benefit from the Korean way of life, food, diet including ginseng. At the Expo 2020, we are promoting the best aspect of Korean soft power including Korean food, Korean culture and our healthy lifestyle that could help people live a long and healthy life. We believe the world would be a better place with the life-enhancing Korean food that helps people to live a longer life.

“Through our activities we want to spread these health benefits to everyone.”

The roots of Panax quinquefolius and Panax ginseng are generally known as ‘ginseng’, which is a valuable and significant folk medicine in Asian countries, such as Korea, Japan, and China. Ginseng roots are well known for their high content of phenolic compounds, ginsenosides, and saponins, such as carotenoids and carbohydrates.

“Ginseng may help stimulate physical and mental activity in people who feel weak and tired. One study of 21 men and 69 women found that ginseng showed good results in helping people with chronic fatigue,” a report published by Medical News Today, said.

Another study also found that ginseng helped reduce cancer-related fatigue. However, researchers only documented the energy-boosting effects of ginseng in people currently undergoing treatment, it said.

“The global ginseng market including ginseng root and the processed products, is estimated to be worth $2,084 million,” says another report published by the National Centre for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), part of the United States National Library of Medicine.

“In particular, the size of the Korean market is US$1.14 billion which makes Korea the largest distributer in the world. Since the interests in alternative medicine and healthy food is increasing globally, the consumer market of ginseng with many features and the processed products are expected to expand continuously.”

Among the US$1.14 billion domestic ginseng market in Korea, red ginseng has the highest market presence with a value of US$671 million, fresh ginseng worth US$292 million, white ginseng product worth US$157 million and Taekuksam worth US$20 million.

The history of the use of ginseng began 4,500 years ago, and its first record was written 2,000 years ago, according to NCBI research. Ginseng has been one of the most important trade goods for health care and treatment of diseases in Asia including Korea and China, and is currently distributed to 35 countries around the world.

Asian countries such as South Korea and China have a long history of ginseng consumption that goes back as far as 1,000 years, according to NCBI. “Looking at the consumption pattern by each country, while ginseng root product is the mainstream in China and Taiwan, it is consumed in the form of solid type such as capsule, tablet, etc. and tonic nutrition beverage in addition to ginseng root product in Canada, US, Japan, etc.,” it says.

China represents 44,749 tonnes, or more than half of the 80,080 tonnes ginseng produced worldwide, while South Korea represents 27,480 tonnes, ranking the 2nd, Canada 6,486 tonnes, and the US 1,054 tonnes, etc. The total production by these four countries is 79,769 tons, which is approximately 99 percent of the world ginseng production (80,080 tons).

“Depending on the characteristics of each nation’s consumers, ginseng can be used for agricultural products, food, dietary supplements, health supplements, and medicines, etc.,” NCBI report says.

According to research, ginseng roots entail a distinctive variety of saponin known as ginsenosides that exhibit health-beneficial effects, including antihypertensive, antioxidant, insulin resistance reduction, antitumor, immunomodulating, chemoprotective, phytoestrogens, and antidiabetic effects. Ginseng extract is classified as fresh ginseng, red ginseng, and white ginseng, depending upon processing measures.

“Additionally, with the continuously changing socioeconomic status, consumers have now become more concerned about their health. Consumption of plant-derived products having considerably fewer side effects is gaining immense recognition over the last few years. Furthermore, it has a wide scope in functional foods and dietary supplements that can impart health benefits beyond traditional nutrients,” according to a Grand View Research study.

“In recent years, there is an increasing interest in the role of ginseng as a functional food or nutraceutical with growing market value. Bioactive compounds and extracts isolated from ginseng are considered for their numerous health-promoting activities, such as antitumor, antioxidant, skin protecting, antihyperglycemic, anti-infective, anti-osteoporotic anticancer, and respiratory problems.”

Ginseng may improve thinking processes and cognition, according to a report by Medical News Today. A recent report examined the accuracy of this claim.

“This report concluded that, based on human studies, ginseng components have the potential to treat some cognitive deficits. These studies showed ginseng could reduce oxidative stress, which could lead to enhancement in cognitive function,” it says.

2016 study on the effects of Korean red ginseng on cognitive function in patients with Alzheimer’s disease found promise as well.

“A 2014 study suggests that ginseng may help lower blood sugar and help treat diabetes. Ginsenosides may affect insulin production in the pancreas and improve insulin resistance using other mechanisms.

“Another 2014 study showed similar benefits of ginseng on lowering blood sugar. Some participants took 2.7 grams of fermented red ginseng each day, while others took a placebo. Researchers found that ginseng was effective in lowering blood sugar and increasing insulin levels after a meal compared to the placebo,” Medical News Today reports.

More clinical studies and standardization of ginseng root are needed to determine whether ginseng is a possible complementary therapy for diabetes. Researchers also need to investigate what specific doses might be effective.


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