For thousands of years, cultures around the world have relied on herbal medicine for healing. Only recently have Americans flocked to once-suspect botanical treatments for the promise of good health and longevity. Among the most treasured of these plants is American ginseng, revered by millions of Asians as a virtual panacea that sustains every system of the human body. In Ginseng Dreams , Kristin Johannsen chronicles the remarkable world of the mysterious plant that commands as much as two thousand dollars a pound. She unfolds ginseng's history and its future through the stories of seven people whose lives center on it: a huckster, a field researcher, a farmer, a ginseng missionary, a criminal investigator, a broker, and a cancer researcher. Each of them brings a different perspective to the elusive root - and each is consumed by a different dream. Despite its venerable past and medicinal promise, American ginseng faces an uncertain future. Urban sprawl and environmental destruction threaten its fragile forest habitat, and the law provides little recourse against ginseng thieves who roam the backwoods. One step away from endangered species status, this precious plant of so much promise could soon be lost to us forever. Ginseng Dreams tells the extraordinary story of a natural treasure and the spell it casts on those who seek it.