Asian Ginseng is native to China and Korea and has been used in various systems of medicine for many centuries. Asian Ginseng is one of several types of true Ginseng (another is American ginseng, Panax quinquefolius). A herb called Siberian Ginseng or eleuthero (Eleutherococcus senticosus) is not a real Ginseng. Ginseng Herb has a long history of use as an alternative medicine going back over 5,000 years, and appears on several continents (origin unknown), it is and was used extensively in Native medicine. The root is adaptogen, cardiotonic, demulcent, panacea, sedative, sialagogue, stimulant, tonic and stomachic.
Ginseng has been studied over the past 30 years in many countries, its remarkable ability to help the body adapt to mental and emotional stress, fatigue, heat, cold, and even hunger is confirmed and documented! The major constituents in Ginseng are Triterpenoid saponins, Ginsenosides (at least 29 have been identified), Acetylenic compounds, Panaxans, and Sesquiterpenes. Taken over an extended period it is used to increase mental and physical performance.
Types of Ginseng
- Asian Ginseng (Root)Panax Ginseng
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine Panax Ginseng promotes Yang energy, improves circulation, increases blood supply, revitalizes and aids recovery from weakness after illness, and stimulates the body.
- American Ginseng (Root) P. Quinquefolius
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, American Ginseng promotes Yin energy, cleans excess Yang in the body, and calms the body. Most North American ginseng is produced in the Canadian provinces of Ontario and British Columbia and the American state of Wisconsin.
The two main components of ginseng are in different proportions in the Asian and American varieties, and may well be the cause of the excitatory versus tonic natures.
- Wild Ginseng. Wild ginseng grows naturally and is harvested from wherever it is found to be growing. Wild ginseng is relatively rare and increasingly endangered. This is due in large part to high demand for the product, which has led to the wild plants being sought out and harvested faster than new ones can grow. Ginseng roots require years to reach maturity. Wild ginseng can be either Asian or American.
- Cultivated GinsengThere are woods-grown American ginseng programs in Maine, Tennessee, Virginia, North Carolina and West Virginia and United Plant Savers has been encouraging the woods planting of ginseng both to restore natural habitats and to remove pressure from any remaining wild ginseng, and they offer both advice and sources of rootlets. Woods grown plants have comparable value to wild grown ginseng of similar age.
Uses of Ginseng
Both American Ginseng (Panax Quinquefolius) and Asian Ginseng (Panax Ginseng) roots are taken orally as adaptogens, aphrodisiacs, nourishing stimulants and have even been used in the treatment of type II diabetes, as well as Sexual dysfunction in men. Both Asian and American forms of ginseng enhance libido and copulatory performance. These effects of ginseng may not be due to changes in hormone secretion, but to direct effects of ginseng, or its ginsenoside components, on the central nervous system and gonadal tissues. A very powerful medicinal herb, it both stimulates and relaxes the nervous system, encourages the secretion of hormones, improves stamina, lowers blood sugar and cholesterol levels and increases resistance to disease. The ginsenosides that produce these effects are very similar to the body’s own natural stress hormones. It is used in the treatment of debility associated with old age or illness, lack of appetite, insomnia, stress, shock and chronic illness. Ginseng also increases immune function, resistance to infection, and supports liver function. The leaf is emetic and expectorant. The root is candied and used as a an edible medicinal kind of candy.Ginseng stimulates and increases endocrine activity in the body. Promotes a mild increase in metabolic activity and relaxes heart and artery movements. Stimulates the medulla centers and relaxes the central nervous system.
Dosage of Ginseng
1000 mg. a day, or les is generally used, just break off a small piece of the dried root (aspirin size) and swallow it with the daily vitamin.
Scientific Version about Ginseng
- Some studies have shown that Asian ginseng may lower blood glucose. Other studies indicate possible beneficial effects on immune function.
- Although Asian ginseng has been widely studied for a variety of uses, research results to date do not conclusively support health claims associated with the herb. Only a few large, high-quality clinical trials have been conducted. Most evidence is preliminary based on laboratory research or small clinical trials.
- NCCAM supports studies to better understand the use of Asian ginseng. Areas of recent NCCAM-funded research include the herb’s potential role in treating insulin resistance, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Side Effects of Ginseng
- Short-term use of ginseng at recommended doses appears to be safe for most people. Some sources suggest that prolonged use might cause side effects.
- The most common side effects are headaches and sleep and gastrointestinal problems.
- Asian ginseng can cause allergic reactions.
- There have been reports of breast tenderness, menstrual irregularities, and high blood pressure associated with Asian ginseng products, but these products’ components were not analyzed, so effects may have been due to another herb or drug in the product.
- Asian ginseng may lower levels of blood sugar; this effect may be seen more in people with diabetes. Therefore, people with diabetes should use extra caution with Asian ginseng, especially if they are using medicines to lower blood sugar or taking other herbs, such as bitter melon and fenugreek that are also thought to lower blood sugar.
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