Ginseng is a perennial herbaceous plant which has been used in China for over 5,000 years for its many healing and energy-giving properties. The Ancient Chinese called it “Ren Shen” or “Man Root”, because its root resembles the shape of a human being. It was used to promote a person’s overall health. The Chinese considered it more valuable than gold.
Today, the western world is exploring its usefulness and ginseng is the most widely available of all herbal supplements. It is now grown in many places, including North America. Ginseng tea is a popular herbal beverage all over the world.
American ginseng grows under some deciduous forests in the eastern United States. Wild ginseng once thrived throughout most of America’s eastern seaboard. Because of a demand for ginseng root, which is noted for its healing and curative properties, ginseng has been over-harvested and has attained endangered species status in some locations.
In terms of scientific research, ginseng is known as an adaptogen, that is, a substance that assists the body to restore itself to health without harmful side effects. In recent times, there has been more research done on ginseng than on any other herb.
Ginseng is best known for its success in boosting the immune and nervous systems, improving alertness and mental function, and aiding the mind and body to cope with stress and anxiety. Tradition,folklore and ongoing research support the health and healing benefits of ginseng.
Many people believe that ginseng:
* is helpful in treating diabetes
* prevents the growth of certain kinds of cancer
* lowers bad cholesterol (LDL) levels
* builds appetite, improves digestion and cures diarrhea
* reduces tiredness, lethargy and fatigue
* reduces physical stress and improves athletic endurance
* aids respiration and is helpful in treating asthma
* is an effective anti-aging supplement
* helps arthritis
* works as an aphrodisiac.
Ginseng’s botanical name is Panax ( which means “All Heal” in Greek) . Its health benefits are believed attributable to natural chemicals called ‘ginsenosides’ found in the ginseng’s root.
The root of the ginseng should not be harvested until the plant is seven years old. Then, it can be used fresh or dried for later use. You can buy it whole, sliced, in powder form, in tea bags or in capsules at a health food store.
Caution: People using Warfarin, a blood thinner, should consult their doctor before using ginseng and should be monitored while taking it. Anyone who develops a rash, a fever or diarrhea should stop taking it.
Ginseng is a legacy of the Ancient Chinese, the value of which the people of the western world are only beginning to discover.