The quality of pharmaceutical products such as ginseng is important for ensuring consumer safety and efficacy. Ginseng is an expensive herb, and adulteration with other cheaper products may occur. Quality assurance of ginseng is needed since many of its commercial products now come in various formulations such as capsules, powder, softgels and tea. Thus traditional means of authentication via smell, taste or physical appearance are hardly reliable. Herbs like ginseng tend to exhibit characteristic infrared fingerprints due to their different chemical constituents. Here we report for the first time a rapid means of distinguishing American and Asian ginsengs from two morphological fakes--sawdust and Platycodon grandiflorum, via pattern differences and principal component analysis of their infrared spectra. Our results show that ginseng can be distinguished from both sawdust and Platycodon grandiflorum, hence there is a potential of using infrared spectroscopy as a novel analytical technique in the authentication of ginseng.