KOREAN RED GINSENG - Ginseng has been shown in human studies to have a long-term anti-stress effect and to Improve physical and mental performance, memory, and reaction ginseng Ginseng is well known, yet shrouded in myth. In Asia, ginseng is taken daily by
millions of people, and is widely revered as a superior herbal
medicine. Ginseng is a confusing topic, yet we can make sense out of
ginseng is in the genus Panax, which comes from the Latin word panacea.
The type of ginseng typically used is of the species ginseng. Ginseng
is used to treat a host of conditions, and, when it is taken daily, to
maintain general good health. Because ginseng has such a wide variety
of uses in Asia, it has been viewed with a healthy dose of skepticism
by scientists in the West.
including ginseng, with such broad-spectrum action, are termed
adaptogens. The herbs in this category, also called tonics, are, by
Capable of creating a nonspecific action. They increase resistance to a wide range of stresses.
Normalizing. They bring balance to the body, no matter what the problem.
This ability to bring the body to balance and to support a wide
variety of functions is what makes ginseng so valuable as a remedy for
just about any condition. Adaptogens, including ginseng, work best
after long-term moderate use by regulating biological functions,
including hormone function, to defend us against the destructive
effects of chronic stress.
In the spirit of this wide- ranging action, ginseng has been shown in human studies to:
Have a long-term anti-stress effect
Improve physical and mental performance, memory, and reaction time
Treat Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Relieve hangover symptoms and improve alcohol clearance
Improve congestive heart failure, blood circulation to the heart, and lower cholesterol
Treat anxiety when due to stress
Lessen symptoms of menopause, including vaginal atrophy
Ginseng is used in Asia to support sexual energy in older people,
but the scientific evidence for this use is scanty. From what we know
about adaptogens, it seems reasonable that long-term use would enhance
all the body's functions, and a healthier body is likely to behave
better sexually. Even so, there is some scientific evidence that
ginseng does treat impotence, and clinical trial have shown that it
increases sperm production and sperm motility. Clinicians, though, do
report that ginseng increases sexual desire (libido). The same argument
applies to the purported longevity effects. However, though these
claims have yet to be proven scientifically, ginseng has been used by
millions of people for 5,000 years, and is the most important herb for
men in one of the most well developed and extensively practiced medical
systems in the world.
True ginsengs, in the Panax genus, include Panax ginseng, from
East Asia, the plant we usually think of as "ginseng," and Panax
quinquefolius, or American ginseng.
Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng), comes from many areas in East
Asia, and is often identified by the region of its origin. Like tea,
coffee, or wines, with their varietal classifications, ginseng can be
Korean, Chinese, or Manchurian, for example.
All ginseng roots, when peeled, are white. Asian ginseng can
be processed by steaming, which turns the root red. This process makes
he root more stimulating. So, Asian ginseng is available as red or
white. Thus, we could have "red Chinese ginseng," or "white Manchurian
ginseng." Ginseng is a connoisseur herb, and different aficionados have
their favorite preparations.
American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius), which grows only in
North America, is prized in Asia. Considered to be a little "cooler"
and less stimulating than Asian ginseng, its uses are similar. American
ginseng is not available steamed, so is only "white."
Several other herbs in the Panax genus, relatives of ginseng,
are used as medicine. They have their own characteristic uses. Most are
somewhat stamina enhancing, similar to ginseng, as well:
"Tienchi Ginseng" (San qi)( Panax pseudoginseng)- not used as a general energy tonic, moves blood and reduces pain
"Zhu Ze Ginseng" (Zhujieshen) (Panax japonicus)- a ginseng substitute, also used for digestion and heart disease
Other valuable Asian herbs with similar properties are used along with, or as substitutes for ginseng:
"Prince's Ginseng" (Tai zi shen) (Pseudostellaria
heterophylla)- a root from the carnation family that is botanically
unrelated to ginseng, used as an energy tonic
"False Ginseng" (Dang Shen) (Codonopsis pilosula)- used as a substitute for the more expensive ginseng, milder, less stimulating
"Dong Quai" (Tang Kwei) (Angelica sinensis)- probably the most
widely used herb in the world, taken by about 1 billion women daily in
Asia, the main general tonic for women
Ginseng is generally indicated for daily, consistent use in
moderate doses by men over 40 years of age. It is not used in Asia by
young people, unless there is a clear stamina deficiency. Do not use
ginseng as a short-term stimulant. A dose that will feel temporarily
energizing can cause uneasiness, irritability, headache, and heart
Ginseng is not generally used by premenopausal women in Asia.
This is not an absolute prohibition, but there are better tonics for a
woman's body. Ginseng is a "hot" herb, in the Chinese herbal system,
and considered less suitable for the woman's metabolism. Women in our
culture sometimes receive benefit at menopause, but ginseng will cause
breast tenderness in some, a hint about the wisdom of the Chinese
A typical dose of moderate quality ginseng would be
4,000-6,000mg per day. Remember that the effects are slow and gradual,
and extend over a period of years.
By becoming informed and following a few selected guidelines,
you can unravel the myths and mysteries surrounding this precious herb.
Probably the most respected, and definitely the most researched
long-term tonic herb in the world, ginseng has something to offer just
about everyone. If it's right for you, make it a part of your life.