Four Generations of American Ginseng Cultivation
I’m Mike Burmeister, my great-great-grandfather Johann Burmeister came to America and founded the town of Hamburg WI, which co-incidentally is where the Fromm brothers settled. They are in American history books as the first to successfully cultivate American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius). My Great Grandfather Julius Burmeister was working for the Fromm’s when they made that important discovery. For over 200 years people had been trying unsuccessfully, only to have their crop die before harvest; there are a lot of tricks to growing ginseng. And those secrets stayed in Marathon County, elsewhere in the country you would be lucky to find a pound of this wild medicinal plant under a tree in the woods. Julius began cultivating Panax quinquefolious in Wisconsin in 1909, one of the very first and the oldest ginseng-growing families still in business. Today, we collectively harvest tons of what many consider to be the best ginseng in the world.
My career in ginseng (if you don’t count picking weeds in the garden since I was a toddler) started as a class project at UW-Madison business school some 25 years ago. I was born into a fourth-generation ginseng growing family, so I saw that in order to save the family farm, we needed to develop finished products from our crop instead of selling it in barrels as low-priced, raw commodity directly to the Chinese market. My grandfather, Henry Burmeister, and I built my first machine for mechanically separating tea; a memory I will always treasure. I sent my new tea ingredient everywhere I could and by the time I left college, I was the lucky ginseng ingredient manufacturer for Celestial Seasonings. Together we developed some of the quality control protocols that are still being used as benchmark quality standards throughout rest of the natural products industry today. Many major brands of natural products use our WI-grown ginseng for raw ingredient for that reason. Since then we’ve developed a farm-direct brand of Wisconsin-grown American ginseng products including capsules, tea, select roots, root powder, extract, soaps, and the first American ginseng instant tea in the US.
The ginseng in Burmeister brand is cultivated for a minimum of 4 years. This long-lived perennial root grows growth rings like a tree, becoming more potent with age; more mature plants are simply better ingredient. Also, Burmeister Farms practice what is known as integrated pest management. That means that we do not use chemicals of any kind until something comes along that cannot be controlled by organic methods. Then, and only then, do we turn to biodegradable chemicals to save the plants from disease. We do not use pesticides or herbicides, only organic and biodegradable fungicides and very sparingly. This is not to say we are certified organic, we are not. That would only cost extra and not guarantee the kind of quality that comes with actual chemical testing of the crop. Our ginseng is 3rd-party independent lab HPLC tested and is guaranteed to contain very low to no residues down to below chemical detection limits. I am confident that our ginseng is the cleanest cultivated ginseng you will find. In a time when farmers are using more and more chemicals to boost yield and consumers are demanding health products to be organic, we wish the rest of the agriculture industry would follow suit and embrace organic cultivation practices. We are proud to be a green-friendly, bee-friendly operation and corporate sponsors of ‘United Plant Savers’, a charity tasked with saving endangered medicinal plant species.
I have seen a marked increase in ginseng consumption in the US since the Mayo Clinic published their groundbreaking study on American ginseng and fatigue in 2012. Arguably the best medical research facility in the world; they do not often study herbs, concentrating mostly on pharma, of course. Mayo reported a statistically significant decrease in fatigue among their study patients who took 2 grams (2000mg) of WI-grown American ginseng capsules per day. Most importantly, Mayo figured out how ginseng does what it does. According to the Mayo study, American ginseng root has been shown, “…to reduce cytokines related to inflammation and help to regulate cortisol levels.” There are numerous important positive implications of reducing cytokine stress hormones regarding longevity, chronic pain, reducing inflammation and damage from chronic stress. The cell damage from cytokines are directly related to aging, RA, MA, colitis and Alzheimer’s disease. Reducing pro-flammatory cytokines is an extremely good thing. Ask any doctor. On top of that, regulating cortisol has to do with modulating the body’s response to stress–reducing the feeling of being ‘stressed out’–which could help with a dozen stress related problems like weight loss, blood sugar, athletic performance, mood and sexual function. American ginseng is nature’s strongest adaptogen, contains no caffeine and is safe to take every day. In 1983 American ginseng officially became a GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) food (not a drug) according to the US FDA.
Its incredibly gratifying when people call and write to tell me how my products have improved their lives. Please take a look at Burmeister Ginseng products in our Store. Best of health!…From my family to yours. Thank you!