Robert Eidus, President of NC Ginseng & Goldenseal Co.

Do you shop at health food stores for what seem like the best nutritional supplements?

By Anne Brock, Flour Sack Mama
Reprinted from
Thursday, May 5, 2011

Do you shop at health food stores for what seem like the best nutritional supplements? Robert Eidus says you might want to think twice about the source. Eidus is unapologetically a purist about medicinal plants like ginseng, goldenseal and others that he grows on his unique forested mountain farm.

While I was visiting his booth recently at the Asheville Herb Festival, I was one of numerous visitors whom Eidus took the time to converse with. His NC Ginseng & Goldenseal Company was selling some live plants at the festival. But the most valuable thing Eidus offers is his wealth of information.

“Ginseng is the best tonic on the planet to rejuvenate more parts of the body than any other plant,” Eidus explained. Scientists are coming to understand the workings of ginseng as an adaptogenic herb that helps the body to heal itself. Eidus is concerned that the way most ginseng is grown today, in a monoculture environment with fungicides, and harvested too early, creates false hope for American consumers.

In Eidus’ opinion, “In our health food stores, they have cultivated gingseng that’s max three to four years and is loaded with fungicidal residue.” He explains that respect for this plant and its full medicinal properties means waiting at least six and a half or seven years before harvesting it on one’s own private property, where the plant loves to grow under a canopy of trees.

He tried to show me how to notice the layers of growth called bud scars atop the plant’s root that can indicate when it’s ready to harvest. He cautions that it’s illegal to take ginseng or any other plants from public lands like Great Smoky Mountains National Park, where poaching is a problem.

Dried Ginseng Root

On his Eagle Feather Organic Farm in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Eidus teaches organic growing methods. His farm has even been the site of research for the US Department of Agriculture’s Sustainable Agriculture Research Education Program.

He offers numerous classes, workshops and farm internship opportunities. On the day of the festival, a couple of interns who had been learning on the farm that week were assisting with plant sales.

Heather Sprouse, Leah Houghton

As with anything related to your health, you may want to consult your medical doctor before using natural medicinal supplements. Eidus notes particularly that goldenseal can be dangerous to ingest in high amounts.

His perspective on medicinal plants certainly offers a lot to think about. You can see more of this plant expert’s sage wisdom at

Heather Sprouse, Leah Houghton interned with the farm via