Lafitau, The Medicinal Properties of American Ginseng

Translated by George Tombs

In 1718, the French Jesuit Joseph-François Lafitau, a missionary and ethnographer at Sault Saint-Louis (modern-day Kahnawake) near Montreal, was the first European to make a detailed scientific description of American Ginseng (Panax quinquefolius). In this ground-breaking work, Lafitau notes how the Iroquois use ginseng to promote bodily vigour, combat fever and improve digestion. He also pays tribute to the medicinal paradigm developed by the Iroquois, based on their rigorous investigations and analysis.